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Aomori Nebuta Matsuri Aomori Nebuta Matsuri

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 festivals. Held around the same time, all three can be experienced on a single trip.

Begin the journey through Tohoku by visiting the giant paper floats of Aomori Nebuta. Stop by the Akita Kanto Festival to watch heart-stopping feats of balance before wrapping up the journey at Sendai Tanabata, one of the biggest, most popular celebrations in Japan.


    The colorful, paper floats of the Aomori Nebuta Festival
    Witnessing kanto skill competitions at Akita Kanto Festival

How to Get There

From Tokyo: 3 hours 10 minutes

Trains from Tokyo Station on the Tohoku Shinkansen to Shin-Aomori Station depart hourly.

Day 1
Aomori Nebuta Festival Giant, colorful paper floats make the city look like a living work of art

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.

20 minutes

Asamushi Onsen Village A tranquil and traditional onsen town backdropped by the bay

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).

Day 2

3 hours 5 minutes

Take Aoimori Railway to Aomori Station from Asamushi Onsen Station and change to JR Ou Line-Limited Express to Akita Station

Akita Kanto Festival Home to lantern-lined streets and breathtaking performances

Held along Kanto 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.

During the event, kanto skill 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 Akita City Folk Performing Arts Heritage Center (Neburi Nagashi Museum) to learn a little more about this fascinating event.

Day 3

2 hours 22 minutes

Take Akita Shinkansen Komachi from Akita Station to Sendai Station

Sendai Tanabata Festival One of the country's biggest Tanabata celebrations

Photos: ©Sendai Tanabata Festival Support Association

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 many streamers and paper decorations, creating a colorful paper forest in the heart of the city. The festival features stage performances, live music, and traditional dances. A highlight is the fireworks display that takes place on the Hirosegawa River the night before the event.

More to Explore
Akiu Onsen Relax and unwind at this tranquil hidden site

Photo: ©City of Sendai

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.

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