What I love the most during summer in Tohoku is the abundance of colorful and lively matsuri (festivals). You get to see a lot of people showcase their talents and their skills when it comes to arts and dancing. The festivals of the Tohoku region take pride in bringing a lot of people together, not just for exciting ‘hanabi’ (fireworks) displays, but also to showcase local talent in the form of dance parades and catchy music.
Although it is not yet summer, you can still experience summer in Aomori prefecture, at the ‘Nebuta Museum Wa Rasse’ – just a few minutes away from Aomori station. The museum keeps the Nebuta festival alive all year round by displaying the best of the festival floats and teaching visitors about the history and origins of the festival. Upon entering the museum you can see right away illustrations portraying the festival events. The entrance of the main hall is a tunnel full of Nebuta’s glorious history. The tunnel was designed with pictures from the past and also some ornaments that you can see in the designs of the Nebuta floats. The main attraction of the museum are the award-winning floats, well lighted in order for us visitors to awe at the beauty of these ginormous creations! In some parts of the museum you can see how the design of each float is bought to life with a wire frame Japanese rice-paper exterior. The design of the floats is usually based on scenes from traditional Japanese or sometimes Chinese folklore. Each Nebuta master (creator of floats) has their own flare when it comes to the facial expressions of the characters in the float. You can see the difference in their styles if you are keen enough to compare the massive lanterns with the faces of characters posted around the walls of the museum. If my memory serves me right there are 1 or 2 ladies who have made it to nebuta master status, so yay! Go girl power! We are happy to know that gender diversity is also being practiced in this kind of traditional art!
While we were enjoying taking pictures of the festival floats, a group of performers suddenly arrived in the hall. We were lucky enough to see performances from Hayashi (festival dancers) groups! We were entertained with music played during the festival and they also taught us the haneto dance steps. It was actually quite easy to follow to due to the rhythmic beats of the drums and other organic instruments.
I would love to see these floats come to life and being paraded through the busy streets of Aomori City! I wonder how many guys will carry such a big float and how they transport these floats to the sea? It must be an incredible sight to behold! Every year it is expected that an estimate of 3 million spectators come from all over the world and Japan just to relish the Nebuta experience! But for now Nebuta Wa Rasse museum will do! Thanks city of Aomori for creating this place and educating us about one of Tohoku’s amazing festivals!
For more information about Nebuta and Nebuta Warasse Museum kindly click on this link: