“Akita Kanto Festival” Glittering Rice Plants in the Night Sky
Akita prefecture is located in northeast Japan alongside the Japan Sea,
known for its unique peninsula shaped like a nose.
The “Akita Kanto Festival ” hosted in Akita prefecture is one of the three biggest festivals in the northeast region of Japan
and is also known as the festival of glittering rice plants in the night sky.
There are 46 poles with chochins, called “sao-to” lanterns, representing rice plants
and they also weigh 50kg, and go up to being 12m high.
Requiring 40% strength and 60% technique, it requires a very particular balance,
and the performers called “sashi-te” will balance these lanterns on the palms of their hands, forehead, shoulder, hip, showing all sorts of tricks to the audience. Theses performers are said to have been perfecting their balancing skills on a daily basis since kindergarten.
During the day, there is an area in the venue where one can experience a child-size sao-to.
Also during the day, there is a ” Sao-to Myo Gikai” an assembly where sao-to experts compete against eachother
showing off their skills for sao-to and also accompanying music. Please stop by to enjoy these expert skills.
When the sun goes down and all becomes dark, it marks the start of the Kanto festival.
Along with the beautiful melody of music,
and the calling of “Dokkoisho-, Dokkoisho-“,
250 of the glimmering lanterns rise into the sky, dying the summer night into a golden color.
With prayers for another year of plentiful cereal crop and also for the city and people to prosper.
The history of Kanto has been passed down for 300 years with that very prayer.
The venue for the Kanto at night is about 800m long and the glittering cho-chin lanterns add up to ten thousand, and 250 sao-to of all sizes both big and small
design the night skies once again this year.
Image Provided by Akita Kanto Executive Committee
Akita Kanto Festival