Misawa in Aomori Prefecture kicked off their summer festival on Thursday the 18th of August which it does every year with a float display which begins at 6:00 p.m. including the “Ohayashi” (chant), and the “Matsuri Bayashi”, the drum, and flute competition. This event has taken place at the Miss Veedol Dome across the street from the 100 Yen shop near McDonald's (and yes Misawa has a McDonald's and it’s delicious, they actually grill the burgers) in town and is seeking a new venue closer to activities on main street temporarily at the train park. If you are planning to go from 2016 onward please check the schedules for where this event will be located as information will be obtainable here for your future reference.
The colorful float parade starts at 6:00 p.m. sharp on Friday starting near the east entrance of the Misawa train station and travels to City Hall towards the Misawa Air Force Base Main Gate and up Main street. This parade also is mirrored on Sunday during the day at 1:30 p.m., rain or shine. The floats are hand made by the community and scaled to just make the turns of the small streets and overhanging wires of electric, phone and cable by handlers of all ages pulling the ropes and maneuvering these gigantic floats.
Food stalls are assembled and remain serving for the entire four days. Okonomiyaki, candied strawberries, Takoyaki, various meat on a stick, grilled corn on the cobb, cotton candy, Jerk Chicken, Yakisoba, and the list goes on. Beer is also generously flowing to aide in quenching your thirst with the hot summer temperatures or washing down your favorite food.
The fascinating interest in these floats are that although they are wooden in structure and weigh in the tons, they are fully animated. They actually move up and down and fan themselves outward. When the float arrives at an overhang whether it be a stoplight, road sign or wires it literally will reduce itself in size, height and width. The float will then cross the obstruction and raise itself back to its original size. An amazing site to see!
Saturdays festivities began at 3:00 p.m. with a Costume Parade which begins at City Hall and passes the intersection at 30 meter road to the True Value supermarket intersection turning right onto Main Street and ends at Sky Plaza, the only mini mall in Misawa and the hub of all events.
Following the Costume Parade around 4:30 p.m. is the “Nagashi”, a traditional Obon Japanese Dance Parade which begins at Max Value end of Main Street which also ends at Sky Plaza. However they begin this parade at the Max Value end of Main Street and follow the costume parade and they end at Sky Plaza.
At 5:30 p.m. comes the “Mikoshi” , Portable Shrine Festival Parade begins. They also begin at the top of Main Street and end up at Sky Plaza.
Entertainment is abundant between the main events as this celebration seems endless with so much to experience. Scheduling a plan ahead of time is essential so you don’t miss the highlights of what you would like to see and do.
Traditional dancers, local bands from the prefecture, Chinese interpretations, bellydancers, flute playing, drumming, food, games and the list goes on. Misawa Summer Festival has it all. A party atmosphere but family oriented just the same. I highly recommend this festival for anyone traveling to the northern region of Japan in August. This is Misawa’s annual main event of the year and one festival not to miss!
When: August 18th through 21st, annually.
Where: Misawa shi, Aomori.