Japan 2013

Festival season in Tohoku

My ferry this morning was cancelled due to an engine failure. This was one of the best things to happen to me on this trip.

My initial plan was to skip Aomori all together and cycle straight to my next goal of Lake Towadako as soon as I got off the ferry. It was only 70km away and I could make it before dark if I got the early ferry. Now, I wasn’t sure what I would.

Things seem to have a way of working out it seems. While waiting in the terminal for the next boat to lead at 12 I got talking (more gesturing and pointing, really) to a Japanese couple who told me there was a summer campground set up in Aomori in anticipation of a big festival in the city.

I left Hokkaido now feeling confident about my plan to tackle Northern Honshu.



The campground was right beside the ferry terminal. It was packed. There was a real sense of anticipation in the air for the upcoming festival. I had only briefly read about the festival in my guidebook. Now I was really looking forward to seeing it.


At the campground I met an American expat of 30 years calls Albert who told me a bit more about the festival. There was going to be huge floats, hundreds of dancers and musicians and drummers. The whole thing sounded amazing. Albert also informed of other, similar festivals he planned to visit in nearby towns over the next few days, and let me join him on his tour. An impromptu change of plan, the best change of plan. Also ran into Callum, a young English guy who had been living in Japan for a year and was now hitchhiking around the county before going home.

The festival, the Aomori Nebuta was unbelievable. Huge, colourful paper floats, brightly costumed dancers and a constant primal drumming and piping. I can’t really describe it well but I took a video which I will upload when I get the chance. Here are also some photos.







The whole thing was crazy, and tomorrow we will go to another town and do it all again.


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