Welcome to Akita Kanto Festival!
More and more tourists from overseas seem to come here in Akita city to enjoy our traditional summer festival, “Akita Kanto Festival”. I feel happy because not only us, or local people, but visitors from all over the world experience this beautiful summer festival in Akita! If you are still thinking about coming to Japan, this must be one of the things to do in Japan!
It’s one of the three biggest summer festivals in Tohoku (the northern area of Japan); Aomori Nebuta Festival in Aomori, Sendai Tanabata Festival in Miyagi, and this Akita Kanto Festival in Akita city, Akita.
Akita Kanto Festival has about 270 years of history (*See official website; http://www.kantou.gr.jp/english/index.htm ).
It has been admitted as an Important Intangible Cultural Asset of Japan as well as “Nishimonai Bon Odori” in Ugo of the southern Akita. Please check the attractive Bon dance festival, too!
According to the official website, origin of Akita Kanto Festival is said to be around 1751 and 1764. It was originally called as Neburi Nagashi Festival to wash away sleepiness and evils. This is a local matsuri, or “festival” in Japanese, which has such a long history.
It is held from August 3rd to 6th every year. So, during July, I can hear the local people practicing Ohayashi (Kanto band) almost every day. They practice the traditional music and Kanto performance outside. I love this season! This is my favorite things to do in Akita in summer!
On the festival day, about 280 Kanto poles are raised by performers of each Kanto team at night. It’s really beautiful!
Akita is famous for delicious rice and Sake. At the festival, these Kanto poles are raised to pray for a good harvest of the year. Can you find that a Kanto pole looks like an ear of rice?
There are several types of Kanto; “Owaka” (Length 12m, Weight 50kg, 46 lanterns per pole), “Chuwaka” (Length 9m, Weight 30kg, 46 lanterns per pole), “Kowaka” (Length 7m, Weight 15kg, 24 lanterns per pole) and “Yowaka” (Length 5m, Weight 5kg, 24 lanterns per pole). Yowaka is for kids and Owaka is for adult. Local performers have done Kanto since they were little. When they grew up, they succeed it to their kids. Each Kanto team has their own mark as drawn on the lanterns. So cool!
Traditionally, only men can raise Kanto. Women can’t do it, but they can perform as Kanto band called “Ohayashi”. Traditional instruments as a drum and bamboo flute create vigorous Kanto music.
Plus, people’s cheering voices “Dokkoisho, dokkoisho” are added to the performance! This makes us feel like, we are all ONE! I love this moment!
Kanto performances include “Nagashi” (the handing over), “Hirate” (the palm), “Hitai” (the forehead), “Kata” (the shoulder) and “Koshi” (the lower back). When I asked one of the performers, he told me that the most difficult one is “Koshi”. Even such a high-level performance, well-experienced Kanto players can do it with extra work using a Japanese fan!
Now, let me tell you another places to visit when you come to see Akita Kanto Festival!
Actually, you can try Kanto performance at Akita City Folklore and Performing Arts Center, whose nickname is “Neburi Nagashi Kan”. The facility is near the Kanto Odori (street), like about 5 minutes only on foot. Please enjoy being a Kanto performer! As your request, some staff may show you the Kanto performance individually. There are also information or history about local festivals in Akita city. (*Price: Adult 100yen / Free entry for children below high school age)
*See official website; https://www.akita-yulala.jp/see/693
You can book seats in advance from the official website; http://www.kantou.gr.jp/index.htm
The price is from 2,100 yen (*As of August, 2019).
We can see more foreign tourists in Akita these days. I hope this Kanto will become as popular as Akita dog in the world! Let’s have fun together!
Oh! Here’s one more place to visit! There are many food stands at the site. YAY!!
I become excited whenever I see them! You can enjoy various kinds of foods, and also, shopping, gold fish scooping, etc. There may be special food festival, too. So much fun!!
Summer in Akita is short. Let’s have fun with these Japanese festivals!
~~~ Information ~~~
Akita Kanto Festival
At Kanto Odori (street), Akita city
Official Website: http://www.kantou.gr.jp/english/index.htm
【Daytime performance】At Area Nakaichi (Nigiwai Hiroba)
＊August 4th～5th (9:00～15:40), August 6th (9:20～15:00)
【Nighttime performance】At Kanto Odori (street)
＊August 3rd～6th (19:25～20:35 *Kanto entry from 18:50)
※Please refer to the Official Website (http://www.kantou.gr.jp/index.htm) for reservation and more details.
＊About 10 minutes by car/ taxi / bus (or 15 minutes on foot) from Akita station (West Exit)
＊About 35 minutes by Limousine Bus or taxi from Akita airport to Akita station → About 10 minutes by car/ taxi / bus (or 15 minutes on foot) from Akita station (West Exit)
＊About 15 minutes by car from Akita Chuo IC (highway)
~~~ Related Facility ~~~
Akita City Folklore and Performing Arts Center (Neburi Nagashi Kan)
1-3-30 Omachi, Akita city, Akita, Japan
Closed： December 29th ～ January 3rd
【Price】Adult 100yen (*Free entry for children below high school age)
【Access】About 5 minutes on foot from Kanto Odori (street)
Written by Naomi in Ugo
*As of August, 2019.