Fact of the week
Credit to Research Team: Haziq
The Aomori Nebuta Matsuri is considered to be one of the three biggest festivals in the Tohoku region. Nobody is quite certain how Nebuta Matsuri came about other than mentions of a widely known explanation of a folk tale legend that the Matsuri originated from the shogun Sakanoue no Tamuramaro used flutes and taikos to attract enemy attention in the battle of Mutsu Province which later made him the festivals most popular festival and was later renamed to Nebuta Taisho. However, this explanation is very unlikely, and this festival is the evolution of the traditional Shinto ceremonies such as the Tanabata. Whatever its origins may be the Nebuta Matsuri is one of the most popular festival in Aomori.
The festival is held in Aomori City annually from August 2 to 7 non-stop and features many large lantern floats made primarily of paper for the sculptures. The parade is held at every night during the six day event except for the last day where the event is held in the afternoon. Previous iterations of the floats had many fire hazards such as using candles for the lights which are now fluorescent light bulbs and the bamboo frame were replaced with metal wires.
The construction of the floats which usually take around a year to build are built by teams of around 40 some workers just to build one float as the complex design and the fragile washi paper that is painstaking hand painted and are built to be as big as possible but are usually limited by the surrounding buildings and overpasses that the parade route takes place in, even so the floats can be up to nine meters wide and five meters tall and are usually in the same of gods, historical or mythical figures from Japanese and Chinese culture, kabuki actors as well as characters from NHK’s Taiga Drama.
The floats are not moved by any motors, instead they are hand pushed by 10 to 15 people depending on the size of the float and it will have to be pushed around a three-kilometre route. The floats are pushed and spun around all while being accompanied by teams of taiko drummers, flute and hand cymbals players making that iconic electrifying atmosphere unique to the Nebuta Matsuri. The chanting of “Rassera, Rassera” of the hundreds of people taking part in the procession dancing all while wearing the traditional haneto dancing costume which is needed in order to dance along and participate in the float parade. Without one that doesn’t mean that you cannot enjoy the festival. The event has free seating on the ground all along the three-kilometre-long route.