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10 Must-See Tohoku Festivals: Experience Epic ‘Matsuri’ in Northern Japan and Discover a World of Tradition

Discover a world of tradition and immerse yourself in the vibrant culture of Japan’s Tohoku region. From the dazzling Nebuta Matsuri in Aomori to the captivating Kanto Matsuri in Akita, these festivals showcase the region’s rich cultural heritage.

In this article, we’ll take you on a journey through ten must-see Tohoku festivals. Each festival offers a unique experience, representing the distinctive traits and traditions of the different regions throughout the seasons. Brace yourself for stunning performances, vivid colors, and an electrifying atmosphere that will captivate your senses.

A Festival Extravaganza: Tohoku’s Year-Round Celebration

The Tohoku Region is renowned for its multitude of festivals, particularly during the summer season. In early August, a delightful convergence of festivals takes place, offering visitors the opportunity to experience multiple Tohoku events simultaneously.

However, the festivities don’t end with summer. Throughout the year, a diverse array of festivals awaits. For instance, the Sendai Aoba Festival awaits in late May, when verdant greenery is at its peak, while the Yokote Snow Festival enchants visitors in mid-February with its enchanting snowy landscapes.

Given the popularity of these festivals, it’s essential to plan ahead and secure accommodations in advance. Hotels, ryokan, and other inns tend to fill up quickly during these vibrant celebrations. So, make your reservations ahead of time to ensure a seamless and memorable festival experience.

1. Aomori Nebuta Festival (August 2-7 every year)

photo: Aomori Tourism and Convention Association

The Aomori Nebuta Festival showcases magnificent floats known as “Nebuta,” which are colossal warrior dolls embodying traditional Japanese mythology.

The festival’s origins have sparked various theories, but it is widely believed to be a fusion of the Tanabata Festival, originating from China, and local customs involving the dispatch of spirits and the transfer of ailments into dolls.

This fusion gave birth to the enchanting Nebuta Nagashi, a ritual where lanterns are crafted and set afloat on flowing rivers. To this day, on the festival’s final day, Nebuta floats are ceremoniously released into the sea from Aomori Port.

The main event features a grand parade along Aomori City’s main street, showcasing approximately 20 majestic Nebuta floats. These floats mesmerize spectators with their dynamic movements, including spins and close interactions with the audience.

The festival’s highlight is the spirited “Haneto” dance, performed with gusto while chanti…

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