Gigantic hand-crafted papier-mache dolls mounted on floats illuminate the Tohoku night with brilliant colors in this ancient festival of unknown origins.

Traditionally held on July 7th according to the lunar calendar, the greatest attraction of the Aomori Nebuta Festival is undoubtedly the enormous brightly coloured illuminated papier-mache dolls (nebuta) mounted on floats which are paraded through the city by festival participants as the main event of the festival.

To make the nebuta figures, bamboo and wooden frames are covered with paper and shaped into historic figures such as samurai warriors and kabuki actors as well as animals and mythical creatures such as tigers, horses and demons. These are then illuminated from inside and set up on yatai floats which form the main part of the Aomori Nebuta parade.

There are several versions of the origins of the festival. One popular explanation is that it originates in the custom of neburi-nagashi, a ritual for casting away into the rivers and the sea bad habits of laziness and drowsiness which were a tremendous hindrance in rice farming in the olden days.

Another legend tells of how a warlord who was sent by the Imperial Court to subdue the rebellious people of the north of Japan had his soldiers hide inside gigantic dolls as a lure to his enemies - much like the Trojan horse tactic of ancient Greece. Today the soldiers are replaced by festival participants called haneto, who march and dance wildly and merrily to the sounds of drums and festival music.

The Aomori Nebuta festival is extremely well known, attracting tourists from abroad as well as all over Japan. It is ranked among the four largest festivals of the Tohoku region, making it a must-visit for any tourists who are in the area at the time.


August 2nd-7th

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