Today or tonight is Aomori Nebuta, the main event for this trip. Unfortunately our electrical problem recurs, so we make for Honda in Aomori. Our plans are now disrupted as the car has to stay at Honda for the day. Before we abandon the car, we check the free camping at the ferry port. This is something of a morass so we write that off as an option.
Being reliant on your vehicle for transport and accommodation causes problems if you have mechanical problems. On Nebuta night in Aomori, vacant hotel rooms just do not exist.
In the end we leave the car at Honda as they say it is no problem to park it on their forecourt until after the festival. This is very obliging and a good solution for us. So, we walk into the city centre and check the festival route and have lunch. After lunch we take the train back to Honda, it is near Shin Aomori station, collect the car keys and damage report. Then leaving the car, take the train back to the city. It is only one station but we have discovered it is a very long walk.
Back in the city centre, we have dinner at ‘Ohtoya‘ and seek a spot to watch the parade. This is easier than anticipated. The crowd is larger but perhaps better organized than Hachinohe or maybe the route is longer.
Aomori Nebuta; August 2nd.~7th. (daytime on 7th. Fireworks at night)
The Nebuta themselves are huge and fabulous. Much of muchness it may be said but huge and fabulous nevertheless. There are also large groups of unruly dancers, as anyone, who buys or rents a traditional costume, is welcome to join the fun.
These ungainly, bell jangling caperers are in contrast to the groups of musicians playing drums, flutes and cymbals. These are disciplined and all wearing a more sober, traditional costume than the dancers and each group has its own colour.
There are lots of very small children and low teens and, in contrast to Hachinohe, almost everyone seems to be having fun. We see numerous floats, troops of musicians and groups of freelance crazies. Commercial advertising floats are also very evident as sponsorship is an important part of the festival given the time and cost involved in each floats creation.
After the Parade
As the whole show comes to an abrupt end – the event is time limited – we join the throngs heading back to Aomori Station. A surprising number of people are destined for Shin Aomori station to take the Shinkansen to Tokyo? or wherever? This means we are moving with a large crowd but also that there is a special train to Shin Aomori, from where we can pick up the car from Honda’s forecourt and head out of the city. This means we beat the traffic and have a smooth drive back to michi-no-eki Namioka. This road station is busy when we arrive and continues to fill up as the night progresses.
Aomori Nebuta is a sight to see.
＊michi-no-eki Namioka Apple Hill ; elevation about 30m.
The author is a long term resident of Japan who has and continues to travel the country extensively. Avoiding highways where possible, the author has driven from Kagoshima in Kyushu to Wakanai in Hokkaido covering 20,000 plus kilometres and counting.