ITINERARIES Touring Tohoku's Summer Festival Circuit Witness vibrant floats, incredible gravity-defying performances, and streamer-lined streets. Tohoku celebrates summer unlike anywhere else.
Tohoku in Japan's north is home to three of the nation’s most colorful summer celebrations. Held around the same time, all three can be experienced on a single trip.
- The colorful, paper floats of the Aomori Nebuta Festival
- Witnessing lantern pole competitions at Akita Kanto Festival
- Tasting local festival street food at Sendai Tanabata
How to Get There
Aomori City , the northernmost capital city on Honshu, is home to one of the most colorful festivals in all of Japan. The Aomori Nebuta Festival is the area's biggest summer event, with 3 million visitors each year. Held between August 2 to 7, the highlight is the daily parade of enormous, meticulously-crafted, paper lantern floats accompanied by dancers and taiko drummers.
For a comprehensive understating of the festival's cultural importance, pay a visit to Nebuta House Warasse, a museum featuring floats and displays covering every facet of the Aomori Nebuta Festival. Guests can wander between the full-sized floats, and get hands-on by joining in on the regular haneto dancing workshops and taiko drumming displays.
Asamushi Onsen Village is flanked by the ocean on one side, and lush rolling hills on the other, offering plenty of hiking routes and opportunities to relax on the beach. Scattered throughout the area are resort hotels and ryokan (Japanese style inns).
Held along Chuo Dori in Akita City , this well-illuminated celebration is also known as the "pole lantern festival." Running from August 3 to 6, the festival hosts nightly parades featuring skilled performers who balance intimidatingly high, lantern-covered bamboo poles known as kanto on different parts of their bodies.
On the final three days of the event, kanto competitions are held in front of the Akita Museum of Art . Teams perform gravity-defying acts set to music. Located nearby you can also visit the Kanto Museum to learn a little more about this fascinating event.
Beginning on the final day of the Akita Kanto Festival , the Sendai Tanabata Festival runs from August 6 to 8. The streets of downtown Sendai are lined with thousands of streamers and paper decorations, creating a colorful paper forest in the heart of the city. The festival features stage performances, live music, traditional dances, and food stalls. A highlight is the fireworks display that takes place on the Hirosegawa River the night before the event.
Situated less than an hour from Sendai by car, Akiu Onsen is a great place to unwind after a tireless few days of festival hopping. Here you'll find a number of onsen facilities, as well as the impressive Akiu Great Falls, a six-meter wide, 55-meter tall waterfall.