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A classic Japanese summer festival featuring a parade of sky-high floats

This festival takes place in August every year and features huge, colorful nebuta floats. Like the Aomori Nebuta and Hirosaki Neputa festivals, the Goshogawara Tachineputa Festival features a parade of nebuta, but with a vital difference: Goshogawara Tachineputa Festival's "standing" nebuta are 23 meters (75 feet) tall, about the same size as a five-story building.

Don't Miss

  • The parade of colossal 23-meter floats
  • Tachineputa Hall, where you can help build the floats
  • The outstanding views from the sixth-floor lounge of Tachineputa Hall

How to Get There

Goshogawara is best accessed by train or car from either Aomori City or Hirosaki City .

Goshogawara is on the western side of Aomori Prefecture. The city of Goshogawara is inland and closer to Hirosaki than Aomori, but accessible from either.

Take the JR Ou Line train to Kawabe and change to the Gono Line to Goshogawara. It takes about two hours. From Hirosaki, the Ou Line will take you to Goshogawara Station via Kawabe in around 90 minutes. By car, it is roughly 50 minutes from either Aomori or Hirosaki.

Three-dimensional monsters looming above

The huge tachineputa of Goshogawara's festival are impressive—at 23 meters tall—even if you have already been to the Aomori or Hirosaki nebuta festivals. The Tachineputa are giant, with intricate, 3D designs of samurai, beasts, and mythical characters.

The word "tachineputa" is made up of two parts. The first, "tachi", means "standing," while "neputa" refers to the style of float. The floats do "stand", but it is how they are moved that is most impressive.

Each float weighs around 19 tons and the men who move the floats do so by pulling them with ropes and changing direction by pivoting the float carriages carefully through Goshogawara's narrow streets.

Lively music and dancing

Because the town of Goshogawara is much smaller than Aomori and Hirosaki , the music and taiko drums that accompany the parade seem to be louder and more lively. The calls of "yatte-mare, yatte-mare!" between the participants add to the raucous atmosphere.

The calls mean, roughly, "Go get 'em," and originated at a time when the floats competed against each other, and fights would break out between the men pulling each float.

Small-town benefits

This is one of the more accessible festivals. There are huge crowds, but pretty much everyone can find a seat. Once the party starts at 7 p.m., people stand, dance and join in on the revelry. Despite this, the relatively small scale of the festival means you won't have to jostle around to find a spot to see the parade.

A long and colorful history

The Goshogawara Tachineputa Festival dates back over 100 years. At that time, wealthy landowners competed to build the tallest neputa. However, a series of fires destroyed the original float blueprints and overhead electric wires were installed in the 1920s, limiting the height of the floats.

Until 1998, the tallest neputa were less than five meters tall. The festival was restored to its original form in 1999, when many of the town's electrical wires were moved underground.

Things to do around the festival

While you're there, it's worth a visit to the Tachineputa Hall. The hall is in town, a five-minute walk from Goshogawara Station. If you're in town in the weeks or months before the festival, you can even participate in the making of the floats.

The lounge on the sixth floor of the hall has panoramic views of the area. On a clear day, you can see both Mt. Iwaki and the Hakkoda Mountains.

Fans of the writer Osamu Dazai can visit his childhood home and museum while in Goshogawara. Take the Tsugaru Tetsudo Line from Tsugaru Goshogawara Station for around 30 minutes and alight at Kanagi Station. The museum is a five-minute walk from Kanagi Station. By car, it is a 20-minute drive from Goshogawara to the museum.

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