Hirosaki -Neputa Festival

The Hirosaki Neputa Festival is a vibrant summer celebration held in the historic castle town of Hirosaki that showcases approximately 80 neputa. These elaborate fan-shaped floats adorned with grand depictions of warriors and fantastical scenes, parade through the streets to traditional music. Designated as an Important Intangible Folk Cultural Property of Japan in 1980, this festival is primarily organised by the citizens of Hirosaki. Each year, neighbourhood associations and citizen groups collaborate to craft intricate neputa, characterised by the striking contrast between the bold kagamie (front image) and the graceful miokuri (back image). Accompanied by the melodic tunes of flutes and the rhythmic beats of taiko drums, these neputa make their way through the town during the annual festival, which spans from August 1st to 7th. 

The tradition of neputa is believed to have its roots in Nemuri Nagashi. This ritual aimed to dispel the tiredness induced by the summer heat, evolving over time to incorporate lanterns and lights. Over time this ritual culminated in the creation of the neputa floats. A highlight of the Hirosaki Neputa Festival is the odaiko, a large traditional drum that resonates with such depth that its vibrations are felt to the core by spectators. Among the three odaikos in Hirosaki, the “Tsugaru Joppari Odaiko” stands out, recreated in 1970 based on the legend of Nobuyoshi, the 3rd lord of the Tsugaru clan. Weighing 2 tons and measuring 3.3 metres in diameter, this odaiko is constructed using uncut cowhide for its drumheads and natural cedar from Akita for its body, embodying the steadfast spirit of the Tsugaru people.