August 2010 Archives

The Hirosaki Neputa Festival

The Hirosaki Neputa Festival, which features enormous, fan-shaped, lantern floats towed by local citizens with musical accompaniment and paraded around the castle town of Hirosaki is one example of the summer festivals in Tsugaru. The fronts of the lantern floats have magnificent drawings of warriors from the Annals of the Three Kingdoms and The Water Margin; the backs have drawings of Tang Dynasty women and sorrowful specters. In January of 1980, the festival was designated as one of the country’s important intangible folk cultural assets.100831neputa1.jpg
There are many theories as to the origins of the Neputa Festival, but it is said that it sprang from the farmer’s events of “Nemuri Nagashi,” which were a means of driving away the sleepiness and laziness that hindered farm work in the busy summer season. It is also said that perhaps the word “Neputa” comes from a linguistic corruption of the phrase “Nemuri Nagashi.” “Nemuri Nagashi” occurs in many parts of Japan, it’s an event that serves to drive away drowsiness that overcomes farm work in the fierce summer season and wash away calamity from villages. 100831neputa2.jpg
Floats are fan-shaped, 3-dimensional figure shaped and come in a variety of sizes, but the average height is approximately 7 meters. The highest ones are over 9 meters. The Neputa Festival music is comprised of cool sounding flutes, strong, reverberating taiko drums and the applause of carved hand bells.100831neputa3.jpg
The marvelous spectacle of the brilliantly lit procession of floats and the plaintive tone of the accompanying music beautifully enlivens the short summer of Northern Tsugaru.
-The harvest of Aomori apples begins along with the opening of the Neputa Festival-

★Important intangible folk cultural assets, such as customs and habits, folk entertainment and folk customs that have been inherited from the everyday lives of people are designated by the country as particularly significant.