【2024】When will the Aomori Nebuta Festival and Sendai Tanabata Festival be held? Introducing all the "Summer Festivals in Tohoku" that you can't miss when traveling in Tohoku

The Tohoku region is an area that boasts natural beauty and rich traditional culture. The traditional festivals held in each area are where you can feel its charm the most. Festivals in Tohoku, including the Aomori Nebuta Festival and Sendai Tanabata Festival, are grand events woven with history and passion, providing unforgettable experiences not only for locals but also for tourists. In this article, we will introduce the major festivals in Tohoku in detail and tell you about their highlights and how to enjoy them.

※Purchasing or reserving the products introduced in the article may result in a portion of the sales being returned to FUN! JAPAN. 

What is the summer festival in Tohoku? Introducing the must-see six festivals in Tohoku 

Sendai Tanabata Festival
Image provided by: Sendai Tanabata Festival Association 

In the Tohoku region, it is characteristic to hold many festivals in the summer. Especially in early August, there are many festivals that overlap in their holding period, so if you travel around Tohoku during this time, you can enjoy multiple festivals. Festivals that reflect the traditional culture and unique customs of Tohoku attract attention from all over Japan and attract many tourists. Why not participate in the festivals that color the summer of Tohoku and fully enjoy the culture and charm unique to the region? 

List of Summer Festivals in Tohoku

①Aomori Prefecture | Aomori Nebuta Festival

Aomori Nebuta Festival
Aomori Nebuta Festival

The Aomori Nebuta Festival is one of the popular festivals in the Tohoku region, held in Aomori City in early August. The biggest attraction of the Nebuta Festival is the parade of giant Nebuta (lantern floats) that color the night sky. These Nebuta are intricately made using wire and Japanese paper, and are colored with vibrant colors. In the past, bamboo was used to make the framework, but now wire is used. The design of the Nebuta is based on Japanese legends, myths, and characters from Kabuki, and their grand appearance overwhelms the audience.

Another highlight is the sight of the Haneto dancers dancing to a lively rhythm with the shout of "Rassera, Rassera". Tourists can also participate in this dance if they prepare costumes in advance. At the finale of the festival, a fireworks display is held over the sea of Aomori, coloring the summer night sky gorgeously.

  • Location: Inside Aomori City, Aomori Prefecture
  • Duration: August 2nd (Fri) - August 7th (Wed), 2024

※Aomori Fireworks Festival (Nebuta Sea Parade) on August 7th

  • Access: 5-30 minutes walk from JR Aomori Station (varies depending on location)
  • Official Website:https://www.nebuta.jp/ 

👉Aomori Nebuta Festival Aug5 night/Aug7 daytime Seat Ticket

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👉Recommended Experiences, Activities, and Sightseeing Information in Aomori 

②Akita Prefecture - Akita Kanto Festival

Akita Kanto Festival
Image provided by: Akita City
Akita Kanto Festival
Image provided by: Akita City 

The history of the Akita Kanto Festival dates back to the mid-18th century. It originally started as a Neburi Nagashi event to ward off summer diseases and evil spirits. Over the years, the scale of the festival has expanded, and it has now become a large-scale festival that attracts tourists from all over the country. The star of the Kanto Festival is a giant lantern called "Kanto" (竿燈 - Pole Lantern). The Kanto is a long bamboo pole with many lanterns hanging from it, weighing over 50 kilograms in total and reaching a height of 12 meters. The lanterns are decorated with ornaments that resemble ears of rice, praying for a good harvest.

The highlight of the Kanto Festival is the skills shown by the experienced handlers. The handlers balance the Kanto on their palms, foreheads, shoulders, and hips, manipulating it freely. This performance is called "Myogi", and a number of impressive skills that overwhelm the audience are demonstrated. The beauty of the Kanto floating in the night sky is breathtaking. The swaying lights create a fantastical atmosphere.

  • Location: Kanto Avenue, Akita City, Akita Prefecture
  • Duration: August 3 (Saturday) to August 6 (Tuesday), 2024
  • Access: 15-minute walk from JR Akita Station (Kanto Avenue)
  • Official Website: https://www.kantou.gr.jp/

👉3 Days Summer Festival "Aomori Neputa" & "Akita Kanto" Tour Fm Tokyo

👉Recommended activities, play, and sightseeing information in Akita 

③Iwate Prefecture・Morioka Sansa Odori

Morioka Sansa Dance
Morioka Sansa Dance

The Morioka Sansa Odori is a traditional summer festival held every year from August 1st to 4th in Morioka City, Iwate Prefecture. The festival is known for its powerful parade featuring 1,000 drums, making it the largest drum parade in Japan. The Morioka Sansa Odori was recognized by the Guinness World Records in 2014 for the "Largest Taiko Drum Ensemble". At the main event, over 30,000 dancers perform vibrant choreography to the rhythm of the drums, accompanied by energetic shouts. The costumes are also colorful, with eye-catching yukatas and accessories.

  • Location: Chuo-dori, Morioka City, Iwate Prefecture
  • Date: August 1 (Thursday) to August 4 (Sunday), 2024
  • Access: 18-minute walk from JR Morioka Station
  • Official Website: https://sansaodori.jp/

👉Recommended activities, play, and sightseeing information in Iwate

④Yamagata Prefecture・Yamagata Hanagasa Festival

Yamagata Hanagasa Festival
Yamagata Hanagasa Festival

The Yamagata Hanagasa Festival features many dancers parading down the city's main streets, dancing to the Hanagasa Ondo song, accompanied by the brave Hanagasa drum and the shout of "Yassho, Makasho". As the name "Hanagasa" suggests, the dancers' essential item is a hat decorated with flowers of "Safflower", the prefecture's flower. When a large group in gorgeous costumes dances all at once, the Hanagasa dynamically undulates, stirring up the excitement of the audience. The Yamagata Hanagasa Festival, which started in 1963, is a relatively new festival, but its roots lie in the "Hanagasa Ondo", which has been passed down in the Yamagata region for a long time. Hanagasa Ondo is one of the folk songs of Yamagata Prefecture, originally sung during breaks in agricultural work. The "Hanagasa Dance", which is danced to this Hanagasa Ondo, is at the heart of the festival.

  • Location: Straight course in the center of Yamagata City
  • Duration: August 5th (Mon) - August 7th (Wed), 2024
  • Access: About 10 minutes on foot from the east exit of JR Yamagata Station
  • Official Website: https://www.hanagasa.jp/

👉Recommended activities, play, and sightseeing information in Yamagata 

⑤Miyagi Prefecture・Sendai Tanabata Festival

Sendai Tanabata Festival
Image provided by: Sendai Tanabata Festival Association 
Sendai Tanabata Festival
Image provided by: Sendai Tanabata Festival Association 

The origin of the Sendai Tanabata Festival dates back to the Edo period. In Sendai, the Tanabata Festival was called "Tanabata-san". A characteristic of the Sendai Tanabata Festival is the luxurious Tanabata decorations that color the city. They are handmade using colorful Japanese paper and can reach several meters in height. The Tanabata decorations are displayed in shopping streets and arcades, overwhelming with their beauty and power.

There are several types of decorations for the Sendai Tanabata Festival. "Fukinagashi" symbolizing Orihime's weaving thread, "Tanzaku" with written wishes, origami "Tsuru" (cranes) praying for peace and longevity, "Kinchaku" symbolizing business prosperity, each with its own meaning. While looking at the colorful decorations, you can feel the history and culture of the festival.

  • Venue: Central Sendai City and surrounding local shopping streets in Miyagi Prefecture
  • Held on: August 6th (Tue) to August 8th (Thu), 2024
  • Access: About 5 minutes walk from JR Sendai Station
  • Official Website: https://www.sendaitanabata.com/

👉Recommended activities, play, and sightseeing information in Miyagi 

⑥Fukushima Prefecture・Fukushima Waraji Festival

Fukushima Waraji Festival
Image provided by: Fukushima Waraji Festival Executive Committee 
Fukushima Waraji Festival
Image provided by: Fukushima Waraji Festival Executive Committee 

The Fukushima Waraji Festival is known for its unique event where a giant straw sandal is dedicated and paraded around the city. It is held every year on the first Friday and Saturday of August. The sandal, called "Owaraji," boasts the largest size in Japan, with a length of 12 meters and a weight of 2 tons. During the festival, events such as the "Waraji Dance," where people dance vibrantly along the course to the "Waraji Ondo," and the "Waraji Race," where straw sandal-shaped carts and floats are pulled and competed, are held. On the last day of the festival, the "Owaraji" is dedicated to the Shinobuyama Haguro Shrine, a symbol of Fukushima City.

  • Location: Inside Fukushima City, Fukushima Prefecture
  • Duration: The main festival is on August 2nd (Fri) and 3rd (Sat), 2024, and the Owaraji dedication is on the 4th (Sun)
  • Access: About a 5-minute walk from JR Fukushima Station
  • Official Website:https://www.waraji.co.jp/

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Summer festivals in the Tohoku region attract many tourists from both inside and outside the country, so it is recommended to make reservations for transportation and accommodation in advance. By experiencing the unique traditions and attractions of each region, you will have a valuable opportunity to touch the local culture. Please join us and fully enjoy the charm of Tohoku. 


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