Kayano Plateau 萱野高原
Leaving michi-no-eki Namioka, we make for Sukayu. We have to be back at Honda in Aomori city by one to have a new part fitted and plan to picnic lunch at the Kayano Plateau. As we reach Sukayu, the weather is closing in and we are driving in misty rain. As we drive around the ring of Mt. Hakkoda the Aomori side is experiencing a bright, sunny though blustery day. The Kayano Plateau is on the west side so in sunshine. We walk a little on the grassy plain and have lunch before heading to Honda.
The part is fitted before we have finished our complementary coffee. Our next destination is michi-no-eki Tsuruta on route 339 where we plan to stay after the Goshogawara Neputa Festival. The RS is fine. We had hoped to catch a train from here into Goshogawara but the limited frequency of the trains means this is not really feasible. So no beer and takoyaki for me, I will have to drive.
Tsuru no Mai Bridge 鶴の舞橋
As there is still much of the afternoon left before festival time, we decide to take a look at Tsuru no Mai hashi (bridge). This is a large wooden footbridge spanning the Tsuruga Fujimi Lake. Its construction is traditional but it is not very old. It appears to have no real function other than as a tourist draw. Having said that, it is an elegant structure and makes a beautiful sight with the lake and Mount Iwaki in the background. Apparently, the bridge resembles a crane in flight over the lake with the mountain backdrop but, I admit, I failed to notice and only read about that aspect later. There is a large free car park and no charge for the pleasant stroll over the bridge and back. Not a bad way to spend some time.
Goshogawara Tachi-Neputa 五所川原立佞武多
Goshogawara Tachi-Neputa ; August 4th ~ 8th every year
D. has done her homework, and we find a car park near the station which is very close to the start of the festival route but luckily free from traffic restrictions. We should be able to make a quick getaway and no get clogged in traffic. in the event this all works out splendidly and we are clear of the town after the festival before most people have got back to their cars.
For a small town the Goshogawra Tachi-Neputa is very impressive indeed. There are perhaps five really tall Nebuta like structures. These are not as long or wide as the Aomori floats but spectacularly tall. In a small town’s streets they are overwhelming.
Our chosen spot is some distance from the start of the parade; we could hear the flutes and drums and see the tops of the structures looming over the tops of the buildings as they approached, like a scene from Godzilla. This was all too much for a small child near us who burst into tears and had to be removed by parents sad to miss the show. All the various groups drumming, dancing, fluting, cymboling and chanting were exuberant, energetic, good natured and clearly having fun.
The whole parade is much shorter than Hachinohe or Aomori and, perhaps,more manageable for a spectator. A smaller, more easily accessible, local event, but no less spectacular. We are back at michi-no-eki Tsuruta before 9pm. but well satisfied with the experience.
I would recommend a trip to see the festival, possibly, above the others.
＊michi-no-eki Tsuruta elevation ; about 10m.
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.