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Nebuta and Neputa are a type of Tanabata related summer festival held in towns around Aomori Prefecture. The largest of these festivals is the Nebuta Matsuri (ねぶた祭) of Aomori City, held every year from August 2 to 7. The highlight of the festival is the daily parade of enormous lantern floats, flanked by large taiko drums, musicians and dancers. The Nebuta Matsuri together with Akita's Kanto Matsuri and Sendai's Tanabata make up the Tohoku Sandai Matsuri (Three Great Festivals of the Tohoku Region).

Local teams build the festival's two dozen floats, which are constructed of painted washi paper over a wire frame and take an entire year to design and construct. They can be up to nine meters wide and five meters tall and often depict gods, historical or mythical figures from both Japanese and Chinese culture, kabuki actors, and characters from the popular NHK Taiga Drama historical TV series.

Every night of the festival the floats are wheeled out onto the streets of downtown Aomori for a parade, except on the last day (August 7), when the parade is held in the afternoon. The floats are pushed along the street by human power, weaving back and forth, and spinning around for the crowd. Each float is accompanied by teams of taiko drummers, flute and hand cymbals players, as well as hundreds of dancers, called haneto in the local dialect, who follow the procession chanting "Rassera, Rassera" while performing a dance that looks a little bit like skipping.

There is lots of free seating on the ground along the nearly three kilometer long parade route, as well as reserved seats which are available from Ticket Pia and convenience stores. Participation in the parade is encouraged, and people come from all around to join in the dancing. The only requirement is that you wear the traditional haneto dancing costume that can be bought at grocery stores and shops around the prefecture for about 7000 yen or rented from rental shops around town for about 4000 yen.

On the first two nights of the festival the parades are somewhat smaller with only about two thirds of the lantern floats participating. However on the nights from August 4 to 6 the parades are in full swing and every float makes an appearance. All the floats are also displayed in the afternoon parade on the last day of the festival, before some of the floats are put onto boats and paraded around the bay in the evening. Finally, a two hour fireworks display along the waterfront closes off the festivities.

Various events are held during the festival at Rassera Land next to the ASPM building along the city's waterfront. The festival floats are stabled at Rassera Land during the day, and visitors are encouraged to check them out up close, take pictures and meet with some of the designers and builders. There are also singing and dance performances held at ASPM as well as vendors selling food and festival related goods.

Getting there and around

The Nebuta Matsuri parade route is a three kilometer loop around central Aomori and is a five minute walk from JR Aomori Station. Rassera Land, where the floats are stabled, is located next to the ASPM building along the waterfront, a ten minute walk from JR Aomori Station.

How to get to and around Aomori

Hours and Fees

Nebuta Parade

Hours

19:10 to 21:00 August 2 to 6
13:00 to 15:00 August 7
19:15 to 21:00 August 7 Bay Parade and Fireworks

Admission

Free (sidewalk seating)
3000 yen (reserved seating in the paid area)
Tickets go on sale about one month before the festival.

Hotels around Aomori

Top rated in Aomori
Budget:
    • Daiwa Roynet Hotel Aomori
      Luxury
      Set in Aomori, 5 km from Sannai-Maruyama site, Daiwa Roynet Hotel Aomori offers accommodation with a restaurant, private parking and a fitness centre. Among the facilities at this property are a 24-hour front desk and a business centre, along with free WiFi throughout the property. Ajigasawa-k? is 49 km from the hotel. The units come with air conditioning, a flat-screen TV with satellite channels, a fridge, a kettle, a bidet, a hairdryer and a desk. Featuring a private bathroom with a shower and free toiletries, rooms at the hotel also provide guests with a city view. Guest rooms feature a wardrobe. Guests at Daiwa Roynet Hotel Aomori can enjoy a buffet breakfast. Hakkoda Ski Area is 22 km from the accommodation, while Sukayu Onsen is 28 km away. The nearest airport is Aomori Airport, 11 km from Daiwa Roynet Hotel Aomori.
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    • Iroha Ryokan
      Budget-friendly
      Only a 2-minute walk from JR Aomori Train Station, Iroha Ryokan offers simple Japanese-style rooms with a flat-screen TV. Japanese Yukata robes are provided for all guests and free parking is available. Guests sleep on tatami (woven-straw) floors and Japanese futon bedding in each air-conditioned room. Bathrooms and toilets are shared. A free-use washing machines is provided and luggage storage is available at the front desk. A Japanese set-menu is served for breakfast and dinner. Dinner is served at the guests’ room and guests can choose to have breakfast in their rooms or at the shared dining room. Guests who want to eat dinner must make a reservation upon booking. Ryokan Iroha is a 15-minute drive from Sannai Maruyama Site and a 20-minute drive from Showa Daibutsu Buddha Statue. Aomori Museum of Art is a 15-minute drive away.
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    • Kaisenkaku
      Mid-range
      Located in the Asamushi Onsen district of Aomori, Kaisenkaku is 19 km from Sannai-Maruyama site and 2 km from Asamushi Aquarium. The property is set 33 km from Hakkoda Ski Area, 38 km from Sukayu Onsen and 22 km from Moya Hills. The accommodation provides a 24-hour front desk as well as free WiFi. At the ryokan, rooms come with a wardrobe, a flat-screen TV and a private bathroom. Rooms are equipped with a shared bathroom, while some feature a sea view. All rooms will provide guests with a fridge. A buffet, American or Asian breakfast can be enjoyed at the property. The restaurant at Kaisenkaku specialises in Japanese cuisine. The property has a hot spring bath. Cycling is among the activities that guests can enjoy near the accommodation. The nearest airport is Aomori Airport, 27 km from the property.
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    • Yadoya Tsubaki
      Budget-friendly
      Situated in Aomori, within 19 km of Sannai-Maruyama site and 33 km of Hakkoda Ski Area, Yadoya Tsubaki features accommodation with a terrace and free WiFi as well as free private parking for guests who drive. This 2-star ryokan offers a concierge service and luggage storage space. The ryokan has a hot spring bath and a 24-hour front desk. The rooms are fitted with air conditioning, a microwave, a fridge, a kettle, a bath or shower, a hairdryer and a wardrobe. At the ryokan, rooms include a shared bathroom with free toiletries. Guests at Yadoya Tsubaki will be able to enjoy activities in and around Aomori, like hiking. Sukayu Onsen is 38 km from the accommodation. The nearest airport is Aomori Airport, 22 km from Yadoya Tsubaki.
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    • Richmond Hotel Aomori
      Luxury
      A 15-minute walk from JR Aomori Train Station, Richmond Hotel Aomori features rooms with VOD channels and free Wi-Fi. Guests can request relaxing massages for an extra cost and use the on-site coin launderette. Rooms come with air conditioning/heating facilities, a flat-screen TV and a seating area. Featuring a shower, private bathrooms also come with a bath and free toiletries. A fridge and an electric kettle with green tea bags are included in each as room as well. An air purifier and humidifier is provided in each room. The 24-hour front desk offers luggage storage, photocopying services and concierge services. Drinks vending machines are on site and guests can use the shared microwave. The property offers children's amenities including slippers and toothbrushes. A Japanese and Western-style breakfast buffet including local specialities is served at Sky Dining Brillianterrace. Aomori Richmond Hotel is a 15-minute drive from Sannai Maruyama Site and Aomori Museum of Art. Aomori Airport is a 20-minute drive away.
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    • Hotel JAL City Aomori
      Luxury
      Located a 6-minute walk away from JR Aomori Train Station, Hotel Jal City Aomori offers stylish rooms. Free WiFi is accessible throughout the property. Air-conditioned rooms feature a flat-screen TV with foreign language satellite broadcasting and and an en suite bathroom with free toiletries, a hairdryer and a bath. Each is fitted with a desk, an electric kettle and a refrigerator. At Aomori Jal City Hotel, guests can get a massage or use the laundry service. A luggage storage service and a designated smoking area are also available on site. La Sera serves a buffet-style breakfast as well as a la carte lunch items. Aspumu, a shopping site for local products is a 3-minute walk away, Nebuta house Warasse is a 5-minute walk and Aomorigyosai Centre where guests can enjoy Nokkedon is a 10-minute walk away. Mt. Hakkoda is a 55-minute drive from the property. The Sannai-Maruyama Site can be accessed within a 15-minute drive. Aomori Airport is a 25-minute bus ride away from the property.
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    • HOTEL MYSTAYS Aomori Station
      Mid-range
      HOTEL MYSTAYS Aomori Station is a 3-minute walk from Aomori Train Station. Guests can enjoy their meals and a drink at the on-site caf? and restaurant. With free WiFi, the air-conditioned rooms all come with a flat-screen TV and an electric kettle. Each has a private bathroom equipped with free toiletries and a hairdryer. The restaurant serves local specialities. A Japanese and continental breakfast is offered daily. Sannai-Maruyama site is a 10-minute drive from HOTEL MYSTAYS Aomori Station. Aomori Airport is 15 km away.
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    • Hotel Aomori
      Mid-range
      Set a 6-minute drive from JR Aomori Station and Nebuta House Warasse, Hotel Aomori features a restaurant and free WiFi throughout the property. Guests can enjoy the on-site bar. The hotel is 30 minutes by car from Sannai-Maruyama site. There is free shuttle service, a 24-hour front desk, room service and shops at the property. The hotel also offers bike hire. JR Shin-Aomori Station is 20 minutes by car. The nearest airport is Aomori Airport, a 30-minute drive km from the property.
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    • Super Hotel Aomori
      Budget-friendly
      Situated in Aomori, within 6 km of Sannai-Maruyama site and 21 km of Hakkoda Ski Area, Super Hotel Aomori features free WiFi throughout the property. This 2-star hotel offers luggage storage space. All guest rooms in the hotel are fitted with a flat-screen TV. The rooms at Super Hotel Aomori have air conditioning and a desk. A buffet breakfast is available each morning at the accommodation. Sukayu Onsen is 27 km from Super Hotel Aomori, while Ajigasawa-k? is 49 km from the property. The nearest airport is Aomori Airport, 11 km from the hotel.
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    • Hotel Sunroute Aomori
      Mid-range
      Situated a 4-minute walk from Aomori Station, Hotel Sunroute Aomori boasts free WiFi throughout the property. Paid private parking is available on site. A convenience store is available within a minute's walk, while a department store and Augashinsen Market is within 5 minutes walk away. All air-conditioned rooms are fitted with a flat-screen TV. Certain units have a seating area where you can relax. You will find an electric kettle in the room. Rooms come with a private bathroom. For your comfort, you will find slippers and free toiletries. There is a 24-hour front desk at the property offering luggage storage service. A 24-hour coin-operated launderette is available on site for guest's convenience. The business centre features PCs and fax/photocopying machines. Bicycle racks are available on site. Guests will find an on-site restaurant featuring ocean views.
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