The Aomori Nebuta Matsuri Festival: Japan’s Most Important Summer Festival

The Japanese city of Aomori welcomes thousands of visitors every summer for the Nebuta Matsuri Festival. Colorful, hand-painted floats are the main attraction of this annual event. The festival has many legends about its origin. However, it has been suggested that it comes from a Shinto rite, protected in Japanese mythology.

Today, the Nebuta Matsuri Festival is one of the leading centers of summer fun in Japan. This is due to its rich history, bright colors, and the willingness of the people of Aomori to welcome tourists. Find out more in this article.

Aomori Nebuta Matsuri

History and Origins of the Festival

Japanese mythology is rich in stories and legends. This festival is included in them, as its origins are attributed to many fanatical stories related to Japan’s past. One of the myths associated with it is that the festival began because the shogun of the Mutsu province would have called his enemies with the flute, accompanied by great figures called Nebuta.

However, this legend is not historical. That is why the most reliable hypothesis is that the festival was derived from a Shintoist of the Tanabata. The Festival of the Stars or Tanabata commemorates two deities known since the Qin dynasty and has different Shinto manifestations.

When is the Festival Held?

This is a summer festival and is usually held for five days in the first week of August, between the 2nd and 7th. Also, that allows all kinds of tourists to come and see what summer has to offer in Japan and what the holidays are like. The Aomori festival is probably the best deal.

Floats and Shows

The main attraction of the Nebuta Matsuri Festival in Aomori are the floats. These are made of washi paper and are painted with traditional Japanese decorations in bright colors. It is precisely the floats that give an attractive and colorful image to the festival, accompanied by traditional flute music.

Besides the floats, the other great attraction is the dancers. They wear a traditional haneto dress, with white and black prints. Their dance is performed throughout the festival, accompanying the 25 floats that parade each year.

Previously, the festival had a definite beginning and end, creating an unfair competition among the floats. Since 2001, the decision was made that the festival would only have one route to go through Aomori, but without a defined start or finish. This has helped the floats to take on similar importance, and tourists and locals can spread out along the streets, knowing that all the floats will pass by.

Aomori Nebuta Matsuri

Why is This Festival the Most Popular in Japan?

Japan is an icy country, and its people are usually busy all year round with long working days. In the summer, Japanese residents and foreigners come to Aomori to enjoy life, laugh, appreciate the beauty of the festival, and for a change of air.

Along with the Nabuta Matsuri Festival in Aomori, there are 317 other Important Intangible Folk Cultural Properties recognized by the Japanese government. There are other festivals in this northern region of the country, but none as colorful and well organized as the Aomori Festival.