Akita prefecture, located in the Tohoku region, has not been a popular tourist destination for foreigners, but in fact it is full of charm with lots of fun festivals!
Akita Kanto Matsuri (Pole Lantern Festival)
The Akita Kanto Matsuri, held every August in Akita City, imitating long bamboo poles with arrays of paper lanterns as the ear of rice.
The largest kanto pole has 12m in length and a weight of about 50kg, performers show their technique freely balancing the pole with their hands, shoulders and foreheads as spectators chant “dokkoisho”
In 2017, about 10,000 lanterns lit up the night sky.
We hightly recommend that you visit the nearby “Akarenga-kan” and the “New Akita Museum of Art” until night time when the festival is the most exciting.
Yokote no Yuki Matsuri (Yokote Snow Festival)
At the “Yokote no Yuki Matsuri, held every year on February in the city of Yokote, you can experience “Kamakura” (dome-shaped house made of snow). The inside of the Kamakura is warmer than the outside, visitors are invited into the Kamakura and offered rice wine (zero or very low alcohol content) and rice cakes.
In addition, Yokote castle is lit up at night, making it a fantastic atmosphere.
You can also see about 2000 mini snow dome(Kamakura) illuminated by candles at the nearby elementary school yard. “Kamakura” are built at various locations across the city, so dress warmly and take a tour around the city.
Namahage Sedo Festival
The Namahage Sedo Festival held in February in Oga city, can be seen at Shinzan Shrine.
Namahage is an “Oni” (demon-like creature/supernatural ogre) and a traditional event to ward off bad luck, played by men in demonic masks with fake knives and hand pails going door to door, yelling “Nakuko wa ineega?” (Are there any whiny kids around?), “Waruiko wa ineega?” (Any naughty kids around?).
You can visit the Namahage-kan (Namahage Museum) at any time of the year to learn the history of Namahage.
Honba Odate Kiritanpo Festival
At the festival held in Odate City in October, you can enjoy genuine ”Kiritanpo”, their local cuisine made with new rice. In addition, various events are held as the birthplace of “Kiritanpo”.
“Kiritanpo” is a unique dish particularly in Akita, mashed rice wrapped around a bamboo stick.
Akita is famous for its rice production, why don’t you try rice while visiting Akita.
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