Two Days in Aomori (Day 2): Hachinohe Emburi Festival

I spent the second day of Aomori trip in Hachinohe city, about 68km from lake Towada. The main reason I wanted to go to Hachinohe was to see the Hachinohe Emburi festival held from the 17th to the 20th of February each year. But before I visited the festival I went to Nijo Castle – just 8 minutes by train from Hachinohe station. Nijo Castle was built in 1334 and used as the center of Hachinohe district for about 300 years until 1627. The castle was designated as a historic site in 1964. It was used as the backdrop for the Hachinohe Emburi Dance photo session. What I found most interesting in this place was the display of the wooden blue horse in the horse stall. I have no idea why they decided to make the horse blue, but it looks cute! LOL.

Photo credit: Theodorus Permana

The Hachinohe Emburi festival is held to welcome the spring and pray for a good harvest after the harsh winter here. The dancers called ‘Tayu’ wear sparkling dresses which mimic the clothes of farmers in the old days. The dance itself also resembles the planting, harvesting, and other farming activities. The dancers scrape the frozen soil, trying to wake up the Gods so they will send good spirits to earth. On the first day of the festival, the priest will say a prayer and make a blessing over the dancers (the special horse headpiece they wear is sacred). You can enjoy the festival from almost anywhere around the city. From the shrine, downtown area, city hall, etc. You can also choose which kind of event you want to enjoy: indoor or outdoor? The dancers were cute, people from a wide range of ages joined the teams. My favorite scene was the little boy acting as a fisherman and also the crazy head movements of the ‘horses’. And after seeing the performance, do not forget to enjoy the food stalls!! Hachinohe City is quite famous for its delicious senbei (rice cracker) snacks, including ‘senbei-jiru’ – rice-crackers in soup!

The dancers (Photo credit: Theodorus Permana)

Food stalls 😀

Actually there are lots of places to enjoy in Hachinohe – too many to fit into one trip!! See you next season, Aomori!

TIP: When planning your trip to Hachinohe, make sure you’re there on a Sunday to experience Japan’s largest morning market!

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