A lot festivals are held especially in summer in Japan. Among those, festivals held in Tohoku, the northernmost area of Honshu Island consists of 6 prefectures, are remarkable. The 6 festivals including the Aomori Nebuta Festival, the Akita Kanto Festival, the Morioka Sansa Odori Festival, the Yamagata Hanagasa Festival, the Sendai Tanabata Festival, and the Fukushima Waraji Festival are well known and many tourists come.
#1. Aomori Nebuta Festival – Aomori
Aomori Nebuta Festival is one of the biggest and exciting festivals that over 3 million people come. Some participants of the parade pull huge paper dolls on parade floats called “Dashi (山車)” and others called “Haneto (跳人)” jump and dance around Dashi with shouting “Rassera!”
Three-dimensional Dashi is colorful and dynamic as if it is about to come out. You can enjoy watching the parade, but you will have more fun if you join the parade. If only you wear Haneto’s costume that can be rent for about 4,000 yen or buy for about 10,000 yen, you can join the parade without participation fee.
[map lat=”40.823397″ lng=”140.750775″][/map]
Aomori Nebuta Festival
Period: August 2nd – August 7th
Venue: 1-4-1 Yanagawa, Aomori, Aomori
Access: 10 minutes walk from JR Aomori Station
Website: Aomori Nebuta Festival
#2. Akita Kanto Festival – Akita
Photo Credit: kantou.gr.jp
Akita Kanto Festival is a mystic festival because of warm illuminations of Japanese traditional lanterns.
Photo Credit: firstname.lastname@example.org
Participants put about 50kg bamboos hanging many lanterns on their forehead, back and shoulders, walk along streets with music of drums and fifes while shouting “Dokkoisho, Dokkoisho.” The lights of about 10,000 lanterns are so fantastic.
[map lat=”39.719330″ lng=”140.108265″][/map]
Akita Kanto Festival
Period: August 3rd – August 6th
Venue: 2 Daimachi, Akita, Akita
Access: 15 minutes walk from JR Akita Station
Website: Akita Kanto Festival
#3. Sendai Tanabata Festival – Miyagi
7 kinds of ornaments made of papers and bamboos beautifully decorate streets during the period of Sendai Tanabata Festival. Each ornament has meaning and people decorate the ornaments while praying for improving academic ability, avoiding bad luck, keeping safety and health of family, prospering to business, and so on.
Photo Credit: hanabi.walkerplus
Colorful ornaments will make you excite. In addition, it is recommended to come to the festival early because Fireworks are set off on the day before the festival, August 5th.
[map lat=”38.260143″ lng=”140.875033″][/map]
Sendai Tanabata Festival
Period: August 6th – August 8th
Venue: 1 Chuo-ku, Aoba-ku, Sendai, Miyagi
Access: 5 minutes walk from JR Sendai Station
Website: Sendai Tanabata Festival
#4. Morioka Sansa Odori Festival – Iwate
Photo Credit: asakusaomatsuri.com
Morioka Sansa Odori is a traditional dance with music of drums and fifes and the parade about 35,000 people participate are really magnificent as simultaneous performance of Japanese drums of the festival is listed in Guinness World Record. As well as the music of the festival, performance of dancers will never get you bored because costumes and dances are different depends on region.
Photo Credit: odette.or.jp
After the parade, “Wa-Odori (輪踊り)” is held at some spots that anyone can freely without charge, costumes and knowledge. You will be given simple lecture and can dance easily.
[map lat=”39.703828″ lng=”141.145154″][/map]
Morioka Sansa Odori Festival
Period: August 1st – August 4th
Venue: 1-2-2 Uchimaru, Morioka, Iwate
Access: 3 minutes walk from JR Morioka Station
Website: Morioka Sansa Odori Festival
#5. Yamagata Hanagasa Festival – Yamagata
Photo Credit: tabisuke-hirosaki.jp
Every year, more than 1 million visitors come to Yamagata Hanagasa Festival. Dancers wearing beautiful costumes similar to kimono and bamboo hats with flowers dance after parade floats called “Dashi (山車)” with the sounds of drums while shouting “Yassho, Makasho.”
Photo Credit: s-yamagata.net
Members of a group wear same costume and it is amazing that they perform same dance perfectly. You can join the parade in the rear of a line if you would like to challenge dancing.
[map lat=”38.245900″ lng=”140.335023″][/map]
Yamagata Hanagasa Festival
Period: August 5th – August 7th
Venue: 4 Toka-machi, Yamagata, Yamagata (Starting point)
Access: 10 minutes walk from JR Yamagata Station
Website: Yamagata Hanagasa Festival
#6. Fukushima Waraji Festival – Fukushima
Photo Credit: fmcnet.co.jp
“Waraji (わらじ)” is straw-sandals in Japanese. In Fukushima Waraji Festival, you will see the biggest Waraji.
Photo Credit: fmcnet.co.jp
Participants walk along streets with carrying 12-meter long Waraji weighs about 2 tons on their shoulders, dance with traditional Waraji Festival song and samba and other genres of music.
[map lat=”37.757246″ lng=”140.463953″][/map]
Fukushima Waraji Festival
Period: August 5th and August 6th
Venue: 17-2 Hon-cho, Fukushima, Fukushima
Access: 5 miniutes walk from JR Fukushima Station
Website: Fukushima Waraji Festival
All of those festivals are crowded with many tourists as well as local citizens. It is expected that accommodations will be fully booked soon, so it is recommended you to make travel plans after booking a hotel if you would like to come to see or participate a festival.