Nebuta Festival AaaaaaaaRastaRaaaaaaa

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Nebuta Float
So my first week in Aomori I arrived bang into the Nebuta festival. The people of Aomori city and prefecture come out of winter hibernation early summer to prepare for this amazing event. The city buzz’s for weeks in anticipation, they are joined by people from all over Japan and the world who travel to experience this wonderful week of parades, dancing, jumping and drinking! And oh my they jump like no other jumpers I have ever met. Every night for a solid week, huge paper lantern floats are pushed, pulled and dragged down the streets of Aomori followed by a sea of flutes, drums and symbols, which are then followed by hundreds of jumping maniacs! There are tons of floats so therefor tons of musicians and crazy jumpers. All ages participate in the parade, both young and old, local and foreign, once you are dressed in your best Yukata (summer Kimono) you have a free entry! It was kind of like a late night, very loud St.Patricks day parade with jumpers! I was lucky enough to borrow a Yukata from Chrsity’s friend and participated in the parade, jumping like a mad bean, on the Thursday night. I brought it to school the day of the festival and two teachers dressed me up. It very very tricky to put it on so I stripped down, they twirled me back and forth and before I knew it I was all kitted out!
It was quite the experience, for a solid 2hours the parade travels around the city and you literally jump the entire time! The cycle home that night was quite a struggle but the night was well worth the insane body pain I felt the next day. The atmosphere is so electric you get lost in this world with the drums ringing in your ears and the colours flashing in your eye. Along with jumping you also chant, so a leader will say something which I think is ah-rasta-ra ah-rasta-ra and the crowd respond, I picked up ah-rasta-rasta-rsta-raa as the response and stuck with that. It is a special sort of jump which takes a few seconds to master. Basicly you jump on each leg twice and you can spice it up by lifting your knees higher or with more enthusiasm. Having the festival at night means the floats look alive and also means you can head for well needed beers afterwards which is ideal. I’ll never forget my first Nebuta festival and I hope it is the first of many….
Nebuta Dancers jumping on Shin Machi street
Drummers awaiting the signals
The beat
                          Kids playing the symbols
The Calm after the Storm
Nebutta float
Tachi Nebuta Festival

Nebuta takes two….just as you think it’s all done (which is very sad) you get a bonus trip to the next town, which is very happy, to check out another Nebuta festival! So there was a huge firworks display to end Aomori’s Nebuta which was amazing as we got in on a great spot to view all the sparkly bangs. People lay out huge sheets of plastic (tarp) which you sit on, some go down at about 10pm the previous night to book the spots and check it 2 or 3times during the night! Thankfully we just knew someone who had done this tedious job, her name is Rumiko and she’s great!



Anways back to Tachi Nebuta, so it’s the same idea but the floats are huge in height instead of width, seriously tall floats! The roads are actually built for the floats so no electricity wires are ever built over the road ways. The town literally works aroud the Nebuta festival. They are far crazier people in this festival parade, crazy as in more drunk and they wear far less clothing! Their hair I could not get over, it was extremely impressive, sculptured up high with feathers and bows everywhere, you should see the height some of them managed to get to. Ate lots of Edamame (green beans), had some lovely beer whilst sitting on the road side with the sunset waiting for the parade to start!

The Famous Hair
Pulling the float

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