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Festivals of Japan: Akita Kanto Matsuri

Akita Prefecture is famous for its ‘Akita bijin’, who are rumoured to have the fairest complexion in Japan

By 2 min read

The Akita Kanto Matsuri is a visually stunning festival that is one of Japan’s most spectacular summer festivals. The festival is one of Japan’s most famous and is one of the ‘Three Great Festivals of the Tohoku region’ of Japan, called Tohoku Sandai Matsuri in Japanese.

The Akita Kanto Matsuri is held in Akita City, Akita Prefecture which is located in the Tohoku region of Japan. Akita Prefecture is famous for its ‘Akita bijin’ beautiful women of Akita, who are rumoured to have the fairest complexion in Japan.

The Akita Kanto Matsuri is also known as the ‘pole lantern festival’ with kanto meaning the long bamboo poles used in the festival. The origins of the festival lie in Tanabata Star Festival celebrations, and is held in hope of a good harvest as well as to keep away evil summer spirits. The Akita Kanto Matsuri is held every year from August 3 to 6.

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Festival Highlights

The Akita Kanto Matsuri features hundreds of giant bamboo poles with dozens of paper lanterns attached to the end. The giant poles are skilfully balanced by more than 160 men participating in the festival. The kanto poles weigh around 60kg each and are hung with illuminated paper lanterns.

The highlight of the festival is the skill of the performers who somehow manage to balance the giant bamboo poles on their heads, chins, hips and shoulders to the rhythmic beats of taiko drumming groups.

The main event of the festival is the night parade, which is held nightly along Chuo Dori Street in the center of Akita City. The participants carry the spectacular kanto poles showing off their amazing skills for around 90 minutes of hot action in the summer night.

There are also events during the day and these feature taiko drumming, dance and music performances, as well as kanto demonstrations. Most of these events are held at Agora Plaza in front of the Seibu Department Store.

The Akita Kanto Matsuri is one of Japan’s most spectacular summer festivals with its amazing performers and colourful night parades. The hot summer nights of Akita City is the place to be this early-August.

Festival Information:

Location: Akita City, Akita Prefecture
When: August 3 – 6
Time: Night Parade 7:25 pm to 9:00 pm
Cost: FREE (along the Chuo Dori Street route) Reserved seating is also available

The night parade is held along Chuo Dori Street, which is about a 15 minute walk west of Akita Station. From Tokyo take a JR Akita Shinkansen to Akita Station.

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