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Moving the Neputa floats into position.Held during Aug. 1-7, the Hirosaki Neputa Matsuri is without the rowdiness of the Aomori Nebuta Matsuri. Instead of the haneto, there are many children pulling the floats with ropes. The main floats are fan-shaped and more two-dimensional and lantern-like. As with the Nebuta floats, the Neputa floats are handpainted and illuminated from the inside. There are two parade routes which are followed alternately on different nights. On the 7th, there is only a daytime parade from 10:00 a.m. If it rains on any day, the parade may be canceled.
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There are three types of floats: the large fan-shaped Neputa, Nebuta-type figures, and the children's small Neputa.I got to Hirosaki early enough before the parade to see the floats lined up at the starting point. Hirosaki is a 30-min. train ride from Aomori, and best known for Hirosaki Castle during cherry blossom season.
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Lunch break
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Fan-shaped Neputa float.The painted picture on the front of the Neputa depicts mostly warriors and on the back are beautiful courtesans.
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The floats were jerked left and right and spun around.At 7:00 p.m., the taiko drum-beating started and the floats left the starting point one by one. The beat of the taiko drums was the same as that in the Nebuta Matsuri. A few men stood on the top of the large Neputa and collapsed the hinged, top portion to clear overhead power lines. The floats were jerked left and right and spun around.
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Nebuta-type float with a paper sculpture of a figure.
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Neputa float. All the floats are on wheels so these people are not actually carrying the floats.
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Closeup of a Neputa float.Theories concerning the origin of the Neputa are identical to those of the Nebuta. However, in the 1880's, the Neputa gradually changed from human figures into a fan shape. The floats have come a long way since then. Candles have been replaced by generator-powered lights and the washi paper has been replaced by washi paper blended with nylon. The festival is designated as an Important Intangible Folk Culture Asset.
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People pull the float along.
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And sometimes they have to stop it.
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Float pullers at Hirosaki Neputa Matsuri
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The beat was the same as at the Nebuta Festival.There were also many giant taiko drums with female taiko drummers.
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The long, slender drum sticks make a very penetrating, slapping sound.The drum sticks are long, slender, and slightly elastic. They make a very penetrating, slapping sound. It's a real treat to watch these vivacious women beating these huge drums in unison.
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Drumming at sunset.The Neputa Festival is not as big as the Nebuta Festival and has smaller floats, but it has its own, unique attractions. Hirosaki is a highly recommended side trip from Aomori.
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Festival during the day.
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Nice during the day, but more dramatic at night.
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Taiko drummer
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