Imagine juggling 50kg lantern poles! This prominent summer festival from Akita has its roots in a farming ritual to ward off sleepiness during the all-important harvest period.

There are several prominent summer festivals throughout Japan, but the Aomori Nebuta FestivalAkita Kanto Festival, and Sendai Tanabata Festival of the Tohoku region are huge in scale and popularity, and make up the three great festivals of Tohoku. Because the three great festivals of Tohoku are held at nearly the same time, they can all be enjoyed together in one trip. Why not visit Tohoku in the height of the summer while watching these summer festivals?

A "kanto" is a pole with lanterns attached to it, resembling a stalk of rice. In Akita’s Kanto Matsuri it is carried with body parts including the face, waist, and shoulders while praying for a good harvest. The festivals consist of 230 poles with 10,000 lanterns in total. It is an incredible sight to see the kantos, which weigh 50-60 kilograms each, being passed on with the faces, shoulders, and waists of the carriers along with valiant music, sounds, and shouts of "Dokkoisho!" 

The festival started around 250 years ago with the original purpose, held before harvesting was started, to ward off sleepiness lest it interfered with the work.  At the Akita festival nowdays, the huge kantos are paraded through the streets of the city by young men balancing them on their shoulders, hips or hands. To the sound of flutes and drums, and cheered on by the distinctive traditional shouts, the performers thrill and impress the spectators as they shift and balance the kanto on their foreheads, shoulders and lower backs.


3rd-6th August

Dates and functions are subject to change without notice. Be sure to check the latest information in advance.