Akita Kantō Matsuri: Daytime Displays of Balancing Skills
JapanIn videoGuide to Japan Culture
The Akita Kantō Matsuri (August 3–6) features parades in which carriers called sashite hold up kantō—long bamboo poles top-heavy with racks of lanterns—that brighten the summer night. In addition, daytime competitions are held among participants showing off their special skills in handling the lantern-laden poles. The biggest are 12 meters long and can weigh as much as 50 kilograms. The sashite balance the long poles on a point on their body, such as their forehead, a shoulder or their lower back. And they pass the kantō among themselves while continuing to keep the pole upright. The carriers participate in teams representing neighborhoods, local universities, and workplaces. There are also individual events in which participants are rated on their skills playing the traditional music for the festival on flutes and drums. The skills on display at this matsuri (festival) have been passed down from generation to generation, and elementary and junior high school students participate in some of the events.
(Originally published in Japanese. Created in cooperation with Cable Networks Akita.)