Gigantic illuminated floats take to the streets of Aomori every August.
The sleepy northern city of Aomori comes to life at the Nebuta Matsuri (festival), a week-long celebration in early August, one of Japan’s most famous festivals. As night falls, huge illuminated floats are dragged through the streets by the armies of the local population. Crafted from colored rice paper, huge images of demons, warriors, and horses pounce on the crowds below as the floats sway, twist, and race through the city. Hundreds of dancers follow the floats, to a cacophony of bells, flutes and drums. On the last night of the festival, floats are loaded onto boats and float out to sea against the backdrop of a spectacular fireworks finale.
When to go: The festival takes place annually from August 2-7. The main days are from 2 to 6, when the nighttime illuminations provide a spectacular backdrop for the festivities. On the 7th there are daytime celebrations, all topped off with an incredible fireworks display over the harbor at night.
Be sure to book in advance if you want to attend this incredible event. Accommodation is very expensive and it is almost impossible to get to the moment.