The Nebuta Festival is a famous summer festival that is held annually in the northern prefecture of Aomori. It is said that the festival has its origins in the lanterns decorated for Tanabata Festival and apparently took place as a part of Tanabata. Over time, its popularity and scale resulted in it being celebrated independently.
In this feature, we talk about our visit to the Nebuta Museum WA RASSE. Located in front of Aomori Station, you can learn more about the grandeur and significance of the Nebuta Festival here.
The Nebuta Museum WA RASSE opened in 2011 by JR Aomori to promote the culture of Aomori Prefecture. Nebuta are enormous, dynamic paper floats with painted images of warriors, samurai, and mythical characters.
Nebuta art is a symbol of Aomori Prefecture, and when you arrive, you will see a black-and-white image of nebuta at the entrance.
There is also a row of small nebuta placed in front of the entrance.
One of the nebuta is a popular anime character.
Now let’s check out what this museum has to offer.
The entrance fee to the museum is 620 yen for adults, 460 yen for high school students, and 260 yen for junior high and elementary students. Groups of more than ten can get a special discounted price.
As soon as you enter, you will be surrounded by images of nebuta, as if you are at the festival.
The origin of nebuta dates back to the Meiji-Taisho period (1868-1925), and in the beginning, nebuta were not very large. It would only take two people to pull these paper floats, but in the 20th year of the Showa era (post 1945), nebuta started getting bigger in size and now, it takes about 10 people to pull them.
Originally, nebuta were made of bamboo and paper with candles lit inside. Today, many nebuta are wire structures with paper and the candle is replaced by fluorescent bulbs or LED.
In the image above, you can clearly see the structure.
One of the other important features of nebuta are the colors used and facial expressions. These techniques to determine how best to color the nebuta to enhance light have been passed down over generations.
Some interactive displays are also available. For instance, you can draw a nebuta face on this screen.
As you walk through, you will see all kinds of shapes recreated using the 3D structure of nebuta.
You can get up close and see all the finer details as the nebuta on display are quite large.
In this image, you can see how the wood, wire and paper come together to create a seamless structure.
For the festival, each one of the enormous nebuta is carefully handcrafted by artisans who are called Nebuta-shi. Each nebuta can weigh about 4 tons and is 9 meters wide, 7 meters long and 5 meters high.
The Nebuta Festival is held annually over six days from August 2 to 7, more than 20 nebuta are paraded through the main street from Aomori Station. Because the floats are made of paper, the festival is postponed in case of rain.
The exhilaration and energy in the air is contagious as the nebuta move to the music of taiko (drums), musicians and dancers during the festival.
If you plan a trip to Aomori and can’t make it during the Nebuta Festival, you can still enjoy the beauty of Nebuta at this museum.
Nebuta Museum WA RASSE
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