lapanese culture Akita kanntou festival

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Akita kanntou

What is Akita kanntou

The Akita Kantō (秋田竿燈まつり) is a Japanese festival celebrated from 3–7 August in Akita City, Akita Prefecture in hope for a good harvest. Around two hundred bamboo poles five to twelve metres long, bearing twenty-four or forty-six lanterns, topped with gohei, and weighing up to fifty kilograms, are carried through the streets by night on the palms, foreheads, shoulders, or lower backs of the celebrants. The festival is first referred to in a travel diary of 1789 The Road Where the Snow Falls (雪の降る道). It is one of the main festivals in Tōhoku, along with the Tanabata festival in Sendai, the Aomori Nebuta Matsuri festival, and the Yamagata Hanagasa Festival in Yamagata. The Akita Kantō festival was designated an Important Intangible Folk Cultural Property in 1980.

Japan history

This festival originated from Neburi Nagashi which was held for ridding illness and maliciousness in summer. It already existed in the Horeki Period (1751–1764), in the middle of Edo era. “Yuki no huru michi (The road where it snows)” written by Soan Tsumura in 1789 is regarded as the oldest document which described Neburi Nagashi. It describes that Neburi Nagashi was held on July 6 of the lunar calendar and introduced as the original tradition of Akita. Also, Neburi Nagashi was an annual event to pray for good harvests and artistic progress.

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in the Neburi Nagashi around Akita city, people decorated silk trees and bamboo grasses with strips of paper on which they had written their wishes. Then, they walked around the city with them and floated them downstream. In Neburi Nagashi, people combined candles and lanterns. This instrument for Neburi Nagashi became called Kanto.

Kantō literally means “a pole with lanterns” and is made from bamboo poles and rice paper lanterns, which hang from horizontal bars.
When Kantō was invented, the lantern was hung in the garden. In order to convert it into a portable lantern, the dwarf bamboo that had been used for the lantern legs was replaced by longer bamboo.

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The main bamboo pole of Kantō is called “Oyatake”. All bamboo used for the main poles of Kantō are produced in Japan and are quite thick. Also, the regulations on thickness and the space between joints of the root are very strict.[2] Thus people who pick bamboos must select suitable bamboos to produce Kantō. The combined bamboos with main bamboo are called “Yokotake”. The number of lanterns are suspended from each Yokotake. The bamboo added to lengthen Oyatake to extend the height of Kanto during a performance is called “Tsugidake”.

cited from Wikipedia

Akita Kanto Matsuri – Japanese Pole Balancing Festival 秋田の竿灯