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Nebuta Festival

Cool off in Aomori this summer and dance among giant floats at Japan’s most iconic festival.

The streets of Aomori City come alive in summer with gigantic, vibrantly-colored floats depicting mythical legends and gods during the Nebuta Festival. It’s held annually in Aomori Prefecture‘s capital city Aug. 2 to 7 and is one of the most recognizable festivals in Japan.

The elaborate lantern floats, vividly illuminated from inside, are paraded around each day accompanied by dancers and taiko drums bellowing out thunderous tunes. They leer and sweep over the cheering crowds as teams of volunteers push the floats through the 3-kilometer circuit.

The summer Nebuta festival in Aomori city features giant floats parading through the street at nighttime.

The giant floats of the summer Nebuta Festival light up the night in Aomori City.

The floats’ design and construction can take an entire year to complete, consisting of dyed washi paper meticulously draped over bamboo or wire frames. Reaching up to five meters tall and nine meters wide, they depict dynamic scenes of Japanese deities and famous mythological and historical figures, along with some more modern characters. Hundreds of light bulbs are strung beneath the dyed paper, bringing them to life dramatically.

Haneto dancers follow behind the floats, cheering and throwing bells at eager audience members while performing their backward skipping dance. The sum of these parts is the most infectiously energetic festival atmosphere in the country.

Nebuta Festival's floats procession.

Photo by: Denica Shute It can take local teams a whole year to complete their Nebuta Festival float!

Become a festival dancer

Everyone is invited to jump into the festival. There’s no need to take any dance lessons — just copy your neighbor — but you will need to wear a haneto dancer’s costume. These can be purchased from local shops for about ¥10,000, or rented for the day for about ¥4,000.

After that, walk up to any of the roped-in pods of dancers, duck under the rope, and throw yourself in! Don’t forget to shout rassera, rassera, the rallying chant of the dancers. Learn how to wear the costume here.

Know before you go

Aomori city Nebuta festival giant float

Aomori City Nebuta Festival is really a sight to see!

Staying on the free Summer Camping Grounds (青森ねぶたサマーキャンプ場) is a great way to enjoy the festival excitement. While toilets, trash collection and hand washing stations are provided by the local council, the site is community run by campers so be sure to clean up after yourself and separate your trash.

If you don’t want to camp, make sure to book another accommodation well in advance. Hotels fill up rather quickly due to the festival’s huge popularity.

The nighttime parade runs from Aug. 2 to 6, starting at 7:10 p.m. while the final day includes an afternoon parade  at 1 p.m. and grand finale fireworks at 7:15 p.m. For further details, check out Aomori’s official guide. 

How To Get There


Japan, 〒030-0861 Aomori, Nagashima, 1-chōme−1−1 青森県庁

By train

The parade route is just a five-minute walk from JR Aomori Station. The Hayabusa shinkansen (bullet train) will get you from Tokyo to Shin-Aomori Station in about three to 3.5 hours. If you’re coming from the Kansai area, take the Tokaido shinkansen to Tokyo Station and change there. From Shin-Aomori Station, take the Ou line to JR Aomori Station, which only takes about six minutes. 

By bus

Daytime and overnight highway buses run from Tokyo to Aomori. The one-way journey takes approximately 11 hours and can cost between ¥4,000 to ¥9,000. Konan Bus runs 11-hour daytime and overnight buses from Tokyo Station Yaesu Exit Bus stop No.3, to Aomori station bus stop No. 8.   

By car

A nine-hour drive up the Tohoku Expressway, taking IC Exit 55 to Aomori will get you there.

By plane

There are regular flights between Aomori Airport and Tokyo (Itami), Sapporo, and Osaka (Itami). The airport is approximately 35 minutes from Aomori Station by bus.

Where To Stay

Awayuki no Yu Dormy Inn Aomori
  • 2-5-1 Shimmachi, Aomori-shi, Aomori, 030-0801 Japan
  • ¥12,545 - ¥46,150
  • 0.2 km
Hotel Select Inn Aomori
  • 2-9-1 Furukawa, Aomori-shi, Aomori, 030-0862 Japan
  • ¥5,600 - ¥35,370
  • 3.76/5 (1,542 reviews)
  • 0.3 km
APA Hotel Aomorieki-Kenchodori
  • 2-6-6 Yasukata, Aomori-shi, Aomori, 030-0803 Japan
  • ¥7,100 - ¥39,400
  • 4.1/5 (448 reviews)
  • 0.4 km
Richmond Hotel Aomori
  • Nagashima, Aomori-shi, Aomori, 030-0861 Japan
  • ¥6,935 - ¥64,220
  • 0.4 km
Aomori Center Hotel
  • 1-10-9-1 Furukawa, Aomori-shi, Aomori, 030-0862 Japan
  • ¥5,600 - ¥65,500
  • 0.4 km

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