Neputa Matsuri 佞武多まつり
One of Neputa used in the Neputa matsuri Hirosaki.
Chinese and Japanese legends are shown in the Neputa Neputa matsuri Hirosaki.
Credit: Ben Garney
The Neputa Matsuri of Hirosaki.
Giant paper art
Not to be confused with its big brother Nebuta Matsuri in the nearby city of Aomori, Neputa Matsuri takes place every year between the 1st and 7th of August in Hirosaki. During this period, this small town comes alive with one of the largest festivals in the region.
The parades of Neputa Matsuri are an opportunity to admire huge paper fans decorated with characters from Japanese and Chinese folklore.
In the streets, it feels like the legends of the past have come back to life. Built around a bamboo structure, neputa floats can reach up to twelve meters high! Carried through the streets by pure arm strength alone, floats come in all sizes... even for children. These mobile works of art are impressive enough during the day, but at night from 7 o'clock they are beautifully illuminated. On the 7th of August the parade takes place at 10am.
The celebration of Neputa Matsuri is well established. Also, some neputa items are displayed in Neputa Mura, a village-museum dedicated to the festival. Located near Hirosaki Park, the gallery is devoted to local culture.
The Neputa and Nebuta Matsuri both share the same origins. But nobody knows exactly where they came from. Some say these festivals came from an ancient custom called nemurinagashi, which means to leave the workplace if you experience fatigue or numbness. For others, it goes back to a Japanese version of the Trojan horse myth, where a general used subterfuge to take possession of wanted land.