6 festivals held in Tohoku are well known and many tourists come. Each of festival is significantly different from others, but all of them are exciting.
A lot festivals are held especially in summer in Japan. Among those, festivals held in Tohoku, the northernmost area of Honshu Island consists of 6 prefectures, are remarkable. The 6 festivals including the Aomori Nebuta Festival, the Akita Kanto Festival, the Morioka Sansa Odori Festival, the Yamagata Hanagasa Festival, the Sendai Tanabata Festival, and the Fukushima Waraji Festival are well known and many tourists come.
No.6 FUKUSHIMA WARAJI FESTIVAL – FUKUSHIMA
“Waraji (わらじ)” is straw-sandals in Japanese. In Fukushima Waraji Festival, you will see the biggest Waraji.
Participants walk along streets with carrying 12-meter long Waraji weighs about 2 tons on their shoulders, dance with traditional Waraji Festival song and samba and other genres of music.
Fukushima Waraji Festival Period: August 5th and August 6th Venue: 17-2 Hon-cho, Fukushima, Fukushima Access: 5 miniutes walk from JR Fukushima Station Website: Fukushima Waraji Festival Hotel: Booking here!!
No.5 YAMAGATA HANAGASA FESTIVAL – YAMAGATA
Every year, more than 1 million visitors come to Yamagata Hanagasa Festival. Dancers wearing beautiful costumes similar to kimono and bamboo hats with flowers dance after parade floats called “Dashi (山車)” with the sounds of drums while shouting “Yassho, Makasho.”
Members of a group wear same costume and it is amazing that they perform same dance perfectly. You can join the parade in the rear of a line if you would like to challenge dancing.
Yamagata Hanagasa Festival Period: August 5th – August 7th Venue: 4 Toka-machi, Yamagata, Yamagata (Starting point) Access: 10 minutes walk from JR Yamagata Station Website: Yamagata Hanagasa Festival Hotel: Booking here!!
No.4 MORIOKA SANSA ODORI FESTIVAL – IWATE
Morioka Sansa Odori is a traditional dance with music of drums and fifes and the parade about 35,000 people participate are really magnificent as simultaneous performance of Japanese drums of the festival is listed in Guinness World Record. As well as the music of the festival, performance of dancers will never get you bored because costumes and dances are different depends on region.
After the parade, “Wa-Odori (輪踊り)” is held at some spots that anyone can freely without charge, costumes and knowledge. You will be given simple lecture and can dance easily.
Morioka Sansa Odori Festival Period: August 1st – August 4th Venue: 1-2-2 Uchimaru, Morioka, Iwate Access: 3 minutes walk from JR Morioka Station Website: Morioka Sansa Odori Festival Hotel: Booking here!!
No.3 SENDAI TANABATA FESTIVAL – MIYAGI
7 kinds of ornaments made of papers and bamboos beautifully decorate streets during the period of Sendai Tanabata Festival. Each ornament has meaning and people decorate the ornaments while praying for improving academic ability, avoiding bad luck, keeping safety and health of family, prospering to business, and so on.
Colorful ornaments will make you excite. In addition, it is recommended to come to the festival early because Fireworks are set off on the day before the festival, August 5th.
Sendai Tanabata Festival Period: August 6th – August 8th Venue: 1 Chuo-ku, Aoba-ku, Sendai, Miyagi Access: 5 minutes walk from JR Sendai Station Website: Sendai Tanabata Festival Hotel: Booking here!!
No.2 AKITA KANTO FESTIVAL – AKITA
Akita Kanto Festival is a mystic festival because of warm illuminations of Japanese traditional lanterns.
Participants put about 50kg bamboos hanging many lanterns on their forehead, back and shoulders, walk along streets with music of drums and fifes while shouting “Dokkoisho, Dokkoisho.” The lights of about 10,000 lanterns are so fantastic.
Akita Kanto Festival Period: August 3rd – August 6th Venue: 2 Daimachi, Akita, Akita Access: 15 minutes walk from JR Akita Station Admission Fee: 2,100 ~ 20,000 yen for special seats Website: Akita Kanto Festival Hotel: Booking here!!
No.1 AOMORI NEBUTA FESTIVAL – AOMORI
Aomori Nebuta Festival is one of the biggest and exciting festivals that over 3 million people come. Some participants of the parade pull huge paper dolls on parade floats called “Dashi (山車)” and others called “Haneto (跳人)” jump and dance around Dashi with shouting “Rassera!”
Three-dimensional Dashi is colorful and dynamic as if it is about to come out. You can enjoy watching the parade, but you will have more fun if you join the parade. If only you wear Haneto’s costume that can be rent for about 4,000 yen or buy for about 10,000 yen, you can join the parade without participation fee.
Aomori Nebuta Festival Period: August 2nd – August 7th Venue: 1-4-1 Yanagawa, Aomori, Aomori Access: 10 minutes walk from JR Aomori Station Admission Fee: 2,600 ~ 6,600 yen for special seats Website: Aomori Nebuta Festival Hotel: Booking here!!
All of those festivals are crowded with many tourists as well as local citizens. It is expected that accommodations will be fully booked soon, so it is recommended you to make travel plans after booking a hotel if you would like to come to see or participate a festival.