Hirosaki Neputa ’18. Inakadate Tambo Art 弘前ねぷた、田舎館田んぼアート
Bandaisan SA to Hirosaki
BanEtsu highway – Tohokudo highway
All day on the highway from Bandai san SA to Hirosaki. Arriving in Hirosaki, we check the Road Station Hirosaki. This has a busy market and although parking is limited in a the front, there is more space available at the rear. The toilets are better than the first impression suggests but we decide to check michi-no-eki Inakadate.
Tambo Art at Inakadate 2018
Inakadate is a much better prospect from a shachuhaku (sleep in a car) point of view. It is large and features not only a kids playground and cycling track but Tambo (rice field) Art. That is, designs in the rice field created by using different strains of rice with different colour foliage. Of course, this sight is strictly seasonal.
This year’s theme is a tribute to Atom’s creator Tezuka Osamu with depictions of his cartoon characters. There are also, less ephemeral, designs picked out in pebbles – a famous Japanese singer, Misora Hibari and, inexplicably, Princess Diana. All this can be appreciated from a viewing tower for 300 yen.
Inakadate RS also has a children’s playground, a restaurant and other attractions. Most importantly, for our purpose, it is close to the Konan Rail Line ‘Tambo Art station’ with trains running into Hirosaki.
We can therefore park the car at the road station, take the train to Hirosaki to watch the Neputa festival.
Unfortunately, the train only stops at the Tambo Art station during daylight hours so, on our return, we will have to get off the train at Inakadate, one station down the line, and walk back. This incurs a 15 to 20 minute walk to the Inakadate road station but the upside is, with no driving involved, a beer or two at the festival is possible.
Only In Japan story
Being unfamiliar with the local trains, when the 2 car 4:26 arrives, we discover the doors only opens at the very front of the front car. (This is to keep the interior reasonably cool). We are waiting at the far end of the second car. The driver leans out and calls us to come to the front door.
As we run down the platform, my camera, banging on my chest, sheds the lens cap which disappears through the gap and down under the train. I stop running and the driver, realizing something is wrong, climbs out of the cab and runs down the platform to us.
My camera’s lens cap has fallen onto the tracks under the train, I explain, – Shikataganai- nothing can be done about it. Not so!, says the noble driver, who runs to the back of the train, jumps down onto the track, crawls under the train and returns, triumphant, with my lens cap!! One of those – only in Japan stories. Back in his cab and us settled inside, the train rattles along very briskly as the driver tries to regain time.
Hirosaki Neputa Festival
Event date (every year)
August 1st ~ 4th 19:00 ~ Dotemachi course.
August 5th ~ 6th 19:00 ~ Ekimae course.
August 7th 10:00 ~ Dotemachi Nanukabi course
We enjoy the Hirosaki Neputa Festival at Hourai Bridge on August 1st. the first day. It is a very local but, nonetheless, impressive affair. There are lots of kindergartens taking part and people greeting friends and relatives on the floats. The floats are, generally, fan shaped and of various sizes but nothing of the scale of other Aomori festivals.
Drums are much in evidence and the huge drum leading the procession especially striking. The drums, illuminated floats, flutes, and chants combining to create an astonishing spectacle.
We have to leave before the end to get the train back to the road station, but we have had enough. It is a long parade.
The night is cool and we sleep well needing blankets.
Inakadate michi no eki is a splendid base from which to view the Hirosaki Neputa. You just have to be prepared to end you evening wia 20 minute walk. Well worth it to avoid the traffic chaos that, I suspect, is the finale of the evening.
Inakadate michi-no-eki ; 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.