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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 is one of the three great festivals of the Tohoku Region (Tohoku Sandai Matsuri) alongside Akita's Kanto Matsuri and Sendai's Tanabata.

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 during 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, 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, which 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

Admission

Hotels around Aomori

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    • Daiwa Roynet Hotel Aomori
      Luxury
      Featuring 4-star accommodation, Daiwa Roynet Hotel Aomori is set in Aomori, 5.8 km from Sannai-Maruyama site and 43 km from Tsuta Hot Spring. Each accommodation at the 4-star hotel has city views, and guests can enjoy access to a fitness centre and to a restaurant. Free WiFi is available and private parking can be arranged at an extra charge. The hotel will provide guests with air-conditioned rooms with a desk, a kettle, a fridge, a safety deposit box, a flat-screen TV and a private bathroom with a bidet. At Daiwa Roynet Hotel Aomori every room has bed linen and towels. A buffet breakfast is available every morning at the accommodation. A business centre and vending machines with drinks are available on site at Daiwa Roynet Hotel Aomori. Speaking English and Japanese, staff are always on hand to help at the reception. Hirosaki Castle is 42 km from the hotel, while Aomori Station is 500 metres away. The nearest airport is Aomori Airport, 12 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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    • Yadoya Tsubaki
      Budget-friendly
      Situated in Aomori, within 20 km of Sannai-Maruyama site and 15 km of Aomori Station, 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 24-hour front desk and a concierge service. The property is allergy-free and is located 18 km from Aomori Camp Garrison and Defense Hall. The ryokan will provide guests with air-conditioned rooms with a wardrobe, a kettle, a fridge, a microwave, a safety deposit box, a flat-screen TV and a shared bathroom with a bath or shower. At Yadoya Tsubaki rooms include bed linen and towels. The accommodation offers 2-star accommodation with a hot spring bath. Guests at Yadoya Tsubaki will be able to enjoy activities in and around Aomori, like hiking. Shin-Aomori Station is 19 km from the ryokan, while Hakkoda Ski Area is 33 km from the property. The nearest airport is Aomori Airport, 25 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 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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    • Super Hotel Aomori
      Budget-friendly
      Featuring 2-star accommodation, Super Hotel Aomori is situated in Aomori, 7 km from Sannai-Maruyama site and 42 km from Tsuta Hot Spring. This 2-star hotel offers luggage storage space and free WiFi. Aomori Camp Garrison and Defense Hall is 5 km from the hotel and Shin-Aomori Station is 6.1 km away. 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. Hirosaki Castle is 42 km from Super Hotel Aomori, while Aomori Station is 1.7 km from the property. The nearest airport is Aomori Airport, 12 km from the hotel.
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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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    • 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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    • ART HOTEL Aomori
      Luxury
      Featuring views of Hakkoda Mountains and Mutsu Bay, ART HOTEL Aomori is located a 3-minute walk from Shinmachi 2-chome Bus Stop where airport shuttle stops. Aomori Train Station is a 15-minute walk away. It offers a restaurant and modern guest rooms with free WiFi. The lobby features 5 Nebuta traditional floats on display. The air-conditioned rooms are fitted with a TV, a fridge and an electric kettle. The en suite bathroom offers a bathtub, free toiletries and a hairdryer. There is a coin-operated launderette on site. A breakfast buffet featuring local ingredients can be enjoyed in the restaurant. ART HOTEL Aomori is a 5-minute drive from Aomori Bay Bridge.
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    • Hotel Route-Inn Aomori Chuo Inter
      Mid-range
      Conveniently located a 2-minute drive from the Aomori Chuo Interchange (IC), Hotel Route-Inn Aomori Chuo Inter offers rooms with a video-on-demand system on the flat-screen TV. Guests can request in-room massages and enjoy fresh baked bread at the free breakfast buffet. Modern rooms feature air conditioning, a fridge and an en suite bathroom. Green tea can be made using the electric kettle and a safety deposit box is available for storing personal belongings. The hotel is a 15-minute drive from JR Aomori Train Station, the Aomori Museum of Art and Nebuta no Sato Village Museum. Guests can unwind in the spacious public baths. A coin-operated launderette is available. Hanachaya serves a breakfast buffet of Japanese and Western dishes. In the evening, Hana-Hana-Tei offers Japanese food and drinks (closed on weekends and holidays).
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