Noshiro’s Summer Spectacular: Huge Painted Lanterns Light Up the Night

Guide to Japan Travel Culture

Noshiro Tanabata, Tenkū no Fuyajō, is an event held in early August (August 3–4 in 2019) in the city of Noshiro, Akita Prefecture. Tanabata is a traditional festival observed throughout Japan, and Tenkū no Fuyajō refers to the huge, elaborately painted lanterns in the shape of castle towers “where night never comes” that are featured in Noshiro’s summer spectacular. In 2013 the main attraction was a 17.6-meter-high lantern built by local residents and modeled after the main donjon of Nagoya Castle. And in 2014 the city outdid itself by creating Japan’s tallest-ever castle-shaped lantern, rising to a height of 24.1 meters. The bottom parts of the lanterns are decorated with pictures of historical events and local customs, and the tops carry a pair of brightly lit shachihoko, the chimerical creatures that guard the roofs of castle donjons. Each year people pull two massive lanterns and a number of smaller ones along Noshiro’s main thoroughfare to the accompaniment of chants and festival music.

(Originally published in Japanese. Created in cooperation with Cable Networks Akita.)

festival summer Tōhoku Akita