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Akita Kanto, the ‘Pole Lantern Festival’

  • Aug 12, 2015
  • by Alina

Tourism Tohoku

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photo by gtknj


Along with the Tanabata festival (Sendai), the Aomori Nebula Matsuri festival (Aomori), and the Hanagasa Matsuri festival (Yamagata), Akita Kanto is one of the main festivals in Tohoku. Praying for good harvests and for keeping away evil summer spirits, the festival is being celebrated from 3-7 August. It has been expressing the culture and customs of the local people of Akita for about 250 years.






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photo by gtknj


During the festival, approximately 200 bamboo poles are carried through the streets at night.
A kanto or ‘Oowaka of Kanto’, is a bamboo pole eight meters high, decorated with 46 paper lanterns shaped like rice parcels and weighing around 50kg. Smaller versions of the ‘oowaka’ are called ‘chu-waka’, ‘ko-waka’ and ‘yo-waka’.

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photo by gtknj


About 3,000 people participate in the festival, including performers who demonstrate wonderful skills by shifting and balancing the Kanto on their hips, lower backs, shoulders and foreheads without using their hands. During daytime, skillful performers teach children how to carry small Kanto called ‘kowaka’ and ‘youwaka’. Visitors are also allowed to try handling the bamboo poles.

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On the final day of the festival a competition is held where competitors perform their skills with Kanto as tall as 18 m.
Around 1,300,000 people, including foreigners, visit Akita every year during the festival. Since locals do not speak much english, phone services in English, Chinese and Korean are provided for the duration of the festival.
For more information, visit: http://www.kantou.gr.jp/english/

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