Aomori prefecture is located in the northern part of the Japanese archipelago. Although the Aomori Nebuta Festival held in that area has been said to be originated as a variation of "toronagashi" ceremony where Toro, the paper lanterns, are floated down a river at the Tanabata star festival, or originated from mimicking the Nebuta Festival held in Hirosaki, where people carried around lanterns and danced at around 1716 to 1735 in Edo era, the origin is not determined.
Toro lanterns are originally the baskets to place the lights, toro used for Aomori Nebuta Festival, however, can be as big as 9m-wide, 5m-tall, and 8m-depth. They were pasting the washi papers on the frames made of bamboo (wires are used nowadays), and squared logs, and the pictures of the characters from the historical plays were drawn on them. they are painted with colorful paints, and they are lit from inside (candles were used in the past, but light bulbs are used nowadays.) Each lantern is then lifted and carried by 40 to 50 people to march around the city.
The theme for Nebuta lanterns can be historical characters from Japan and China, as well as the local legends and heroes, and even when the same themes are used in the following year, they create the new Nebuta lanterns as the layouts are changed.
The festival is held from August 2nd to 7th annually, and the city receives as much as 3 million tourists. Since the summer in Tohoku area is cooler than that of Kanto and Kansai regions that some visit the city as a summer resort to get away from the heat of their cities, while others come visit the city to experience the grandeur scale of the festival. The festival is known as one of the largest festivals in Japan, and was designated as a significant intangible folk cultural asset of the country.
Image Provided by Aomori Tourism and Convention Association
Aomori Nebuta Festival
Tel: 81-17-723-7211 Fax: 81-17-723-721
Official Website (Japanese)