It is summer, is not it? If the weather sounds crazy now because of the heat outside then I am sorry to inform you that reading about Aomori Nebuta Matsuri (Festival) may not be a good idea. Heat is everywhere, who wants to go out! No offense though as in Japan summer is seen to be the season of firework and of course for other festivals. Among them Aomori Nebuta Matsuri is the most popular one which is held every year from August 2nd to 7th in Aomori city, Tohoku. There are three great festivals held in Tohoku region and among them Aomori Nebuta certainly is one of them. This is a week-long summer matsuri bringing you a lot of entertainments.

Massive Illuminated Floats, Aomori Nebuta Matsuri. Photo Credit: Rosino at Flickr.

The main feature of this festival is the daily parade of over twenty distinctive massive illuminated nebutas (floats) based on kabuki play or mythical tales, dancers which includes tourists, taiko drums, and musicians. Everything sounds very colorful from the date it starts till it concludes by a spectacular firework display. I could write so many memories of mine on this delightful summer festival. It is unique and it is better not to compare it with rest of the festival we celebrate throughout the year in all over Japan.

Insight into Aomori Nebuta Festival

A giant float is being pushed by the local people. Photo Credit: Rosino at Flickr.

Prior to the festival, those massive illuminated floats/lanterns were constructed by the local processional groups. They are quite skilled in this sort of artwork. In fact, they work hard to build the best one as an award awaits for them to receive. However, they take it as a challenge. After all, they don’t want to disappoint the millions visitors who visit the festival each year. The floats are made with bamboo and wooden frame covered with paper illustrated with historic figures, famous characters from kabuki plays and pictures of samurai warriors. To be honest with you, I can’t tell you the origin of this festival correctly though it is said that it has originated from the Tanabata festival. In the past many things had happened regarding on this fire festival such as during Edo period and Meiji period it was often banned by the government due to fire hazard. And during the World War II, it was completely banned by the authority.

A total masterpiece! Photo Credit: Aomori Travel Times.

The show begins every day at 19:10 and ends exactly at 21:00 from August 2nd to 6th. I would surly let you know the time of the last day parade later. Massive illuminated floats are pulled through the processional route of streets by local residences. They wear various colorful costumes which make them feel like “yeah time has arrived to have fun”. The floats are pushed as takio drummers, flutists, haneto (dancers) follow the procession shouting “Rassera, Rassera” over and over again while performing their own acts. The entire route is about 3 kilometer long. This means you are going get tired after all we are human, right?

On the last day of the ceremony, unlike rest of the days during the fest festival it usually begins at 13:00 and finishes around 15:00. That’s not the end of the journey though; you have got to wait for last day’s main event which I mean the firework display. On the night of 7th, from 19:15 to 21:00, an amazing fireworks display is to be held around the Aomori Bay as the three best floats judged to be the best are taken to the sea and placed onto boats and floated out to sea. It is just amazing to look at the night skies, how charming!  In addition, various events are held during the festival Rassera land. This is where the giant floats are displayed or stabled for visitors to check them out up close.

Want to be a Haneto/Dancer?

Haneto – the Dancers. Photo Credit: Aomori Travel Times.

Being a Haneto and then participate in the parade is something you would always be thinking rest of your life. You even can make a great story telling your experiences of being a dancer on Aomori Nebuta Festival to your grandchild. There is nothing much to do, just buy a Haneto dress then join in the dancing parade. Either you could rent it or buy it from nearby shops around the prefecture, everything is fine. Though, I would recommend you to buy one because your Haneto costume would help you to memorize your happy moments. You can buy one just spending 5000 yen. I think it is affordable to you.

Important things to know

Place & Address: Central part of Aomori-shi
Festival Period: August 2 – 7, 2016
Admission Fees: Free (sidewalk seating), 2600 Yen (Reserved seating), 6600 Yen (reserved seating for both the parade and the fireworks on the last day)
Time: 19:10 to 21:00 August 2 to 6
13:00 to 15:00 August 7
19:15 to 21:00 August 7 Bay Parade and Fireworks
Tel: Aomori Tourism and Convention Association 017-723-7211, 017-723-7215
Official website:

How to get there: Five minute walk from JR Aomori Station. If you are coming from Tokyo then take a Hayabusa train on the JR Tohoku Shinkansen from Tokyo to Shin-Aomori and then transfer to local trains to JR Aomori Station.

Welcome to Aomori Nebuta Festival 2016

You can experience this sort of giant floats. Photo Credit: tsuda at Flickr.

The festival is quite popular in the land of the rising sun as well as in other parts of Japan. In 1980, it has been designated as an Important Intangible Folk Cultural Property of Japan. Every year, many tourists from around the globe visit this summer festival. You are welcome here! Please come if you have a time to relax and enjoy at the same time here in Aomori. In fact, most of the major cities in Aomori celebrate their own Nebuta matsuri. You can experience Hirosaki Neputa Matsuri in Hirosaki city along with this festival.

Summer weather in Aomori is not that much crazier like Tokyo. It provides a great atmosphere to roam around the city and visit other sightseeing attractions. Summer without festival is beyond my imagination. It is really hard to pass summertime without viewing eye-catching fireworks display out there at night and participation on a fire festival like this is a bonus for me. Hopefully, you would be interested coming here in Aomori and enjoy the Nebuta festival with us. Who knows we may meet each other during the festival.

Copyright 2016 @ takkhis