The Nebuta Matsuri in Aomori is a festival where giant floats, called “Nebuta,” carrying larger-than-life figures of warriors and demons, march down the streets.
One of the three great Japanese festivals of the Tohoku region, the Nebuta Matsuri draws crowds of 2.5 million people every year, painting the summer nights with vibrant colors. Just catching the parade is an enjoyable activity in and of itself, but learning about its roots, and jumping in to take part in the festival will make for a once-in-a-lifetime experience!
Here, we’ll share ways to get there for first-timers and how best to enjoy the Aomori Nebuta Matsuri.

What is Aomori Nebuta Matsuri?

The Aomori Nebuta Matsuri is one of the leading and most traditional summer festivals in Japan, taking place every August.
The “Nebuta” are giant lanterns, which can be as large as five meters in height and nine meters in length, and the lanterns, on floats, make their way around the city area, near JR Aomori Station.
Visitors from not just within Japan, but from Asia, America, Europe, and all around the world gather here to see these amazing sights.

The Nebuta going down the street. (Photo credit: Aomori Tourism Convention Association)

During the festival, the streets around Aomori Station (Shinmachi Dōri, Heiwa-Kōen Dōri, National Route 4, and Hakko Dōri, amongst others) are closed, and the Nebuta will be brought out to run down the center of these streets, in a 3.1-kilometer-long parade. Beer and other street snack stores line the sides of the roads, making for an exciting experience as you walk down the street.

The streets start to fill out during the afternoon, and by nightfall, numerous stores have set up shop too. (Photo credit: Vassamon Anansukkasem,

Though the origins of the Aomori Nebuta Matsuri are not exactly clear, it is believed to have originated from the Nara period from 710 to 794, when the tradition of floating lanterns down streams during Tanabata, or the Star Festival, arrived from China and was altered.
To ward off the drowsiness that interferes with agriculture and farm work, lanterns and bamboo were floated down the rivers and oceans.
In Japanese, the word for “sleepy” is “nemutai”, and the word eventually evolved into “nebuta”, the name of the festival.

The tradition of floating lanterns down rivers is observed all throughout Japan.

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When is Nebuta Matsuri 2022? Ways to celebrate Aomori’s Giant Festival

The Aomori Nebuta Matsuri is held for six days from August 2-7 every year. Everything from Nebuta lanterns made by local children to giant Nebuta make their debut here.
The route that the floats take changes every day, and though you can see the floats no matter which day you head down to the festival, the 6th is especially recommended. In particular, there are performances by famous artists and a prize presentation for the creators of the floats, and on the 6th, you can …

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