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Ojima Neputa Festival 2019 – a Festivity with Giant Neputa Floats in Gunma

Maggie

Writer

Ojima Neputa festival is held on August 14th & 15th every year in Ota city in Gunma. Neputa is a large float with samurai warrior images which you can see during the festival parade. 160,000 people visit this two-day festival. Neputa originated in Aomori first. Then they spread over Kanto area within many years. You can see it at several festivals, but at the Ojima one, Neputa floats are over 7 meters high, so it’s a mega size. The scale of the festival expanded over the years. Now people know it as one of the major summer festivals in Japan. You can see the huge Neputa up close, which is a very unique experience that you can’t have at other Neputa festivals. Also, they have 3-meter-high mega Taiko (Japanese drum) for this occasion. It’s so big that the drummers sit on top of the drum to play.

Festival Breakdown

The festival starts at 10 am on both days and runs with the same schedule each day.

Outdoor market pops up from 10 am on the main street. You will have a chance to taste Aomori food & sweets. Because the festival started in Aomori, they feature the specialty food from Aomori at the festival in Gunma. Aomori is famous for great juicy apples and much more, so this is a great chance to get the Aomori local items while in Gunma.

Throughout the day, Neputas are stationed and exhibited at the festival venue. Up until the Neputa parade at 6 pm, there are many music performances carried by locals including elementary school students and firefighters.

At 6 pm, the Neputa floats will start glowing and parade around the town. Then around 9 pm, a great concert of Neputa Hayashi starts. More than 300 participants including local groups, charities, companies gather and perform the festival music to raise the heat of the festival!

History of Ojima Neputa Festival

Hirosaki Neputa festival in Hirosaki city in Aomori was the origin of Ojima Neputa festival. The beginning of Hirosaki Neputa festival history is unknown, but some sources show that the festival originated around 1593. In the era of the 4th Tsugaru Shinbun, Nomoto Dogen was called from Kyoto. He was intelligent not only in the tea ceremony studies, but also in theology, warfare, and Confucianism. Besides, it has been said that it had a great influence on Hirosaki city. Dogen invited craftworkers from Kyoto to spread dissemination of sericulture industry and silk fabrics in 1700 (Genroku 13) year.

It seems he brought from 80 to 90 Kyoto people in a few years and worked in his studio called Oriza in Konyacho. They made special lanterns called Bontoro, which is a traditional Kyoto craft, and decorated the house gate with it. And since the time to decorate the lantern just overlaps with the timing of the Neputa festival season, it is speculated that these craftworks used Neputa instead of typical lanterns, so people don’t need to carry it around, but still, they get lights outside.

What’s the Reason of Using Neputa

Along with sending lantern floats on rivers for Tanabata festival in summer, there is a thing called Nemuri Nagashi (sleeping shedding) which is held as an event all over Japan. The event is to drive away the invisible demon that attacks you with sleepiness in a busy summer season of agriculture in the severe heat. This was one of the customs which Hirosaki city had been preserving since long ago.
At that time, the torches were also widely in use. People used lanterns in the Edo period and gradually it evolved into large-scale beautiful things like current “Neputa”.

Details and Access

Date/Schedule: August 14th & 15th every year

Place: Ota City Ojima Shopping Street

Address: Ojimacho, Ota, Gunma Prefecture

Official website (Japanese only): http://eclipse.star.gs/lock/ojima/ojima.htm

Access:

The event is accessible via cars and public transportation. If you are taking public transportation, it is about 20-minute walk from the closest train station – Kisaki station on Tobu Isesaki Line. During the festival, between 4:30 pm to 10 pm, there is a free shuttle bus running between the venue and Kisaki station for your convenience.

Closing Remarks

This is the only chance you get to see mega-sized Neputa floats and mega Taiko so close to you! Also, the intensity of the performers and participants at the festival is something outstanding! I highly recommend you checking this festival. However, if you would like to see original Neputa festivals in the north of Honshu, I suggest you see Aomori Nebuta, Hirosaki Neputa, and  Goshogawara Tachineputa Festivals.

If you would like a local guide to take you to this festival, tell you more about the customs and traditions of the neighborhood, please click on the banner below!

The Most Gorgeous Nebuta Festival in Japan

I hope you enjoyed reading this article and it made you want to see and join this festival. Though there are many floating lantern festivals in Japan, the Tohoku region can boast one of the most famous Nebuta festivals. I also recommend you visit an Aomori Nebuta Matsuri in Aomori City in August. This Festival is one of the three most significant festivals in the Tohoku region and is known to be one of the most popular and colorful festivals in Japan! I am sure you will appreciate watching a gigantic handmade Nebutas during this festival. And of course, don’t miss a chance to join the parade and dance with the crowd!

For more information on Aomori Nebuta Matsuri, please check the link below!

URL: https://festivalgo.huber-japan.com/events/1627/

Choose the Most Spectacular Nebuta Matsuri in Japan!

Image courtesy of  Yuya Saito

Nebuta (or Neputa depending on the area) is a huge traditional Japanese paper lantern that can be of various shapes. This is an essential attribute of numerous Nebuta Festivals in Japan and especially in the Tohoku region. It is hard to imagine a Japanese festivity without these colorful lanterns resembling demons from Japanese mythology, brave Samurai, or beautiful Japanese ladies. In addition, the energetic atmosphere during Nebuta festivals will never make you feel bored! The following article picked up 11 most spectacular and unique Nebuta Matsuri in Japan! Please have a look!

URL: https://festivalgo.huber-japan.com/events/events/best-11-nebuta-float-festivals-spectacular-matsuri-japan

Don`t Stay Hungry at the Festival!

Image courtesy of Tomomarusan

The food presented during Matsuri is pretty different from the one you get at the restaurants in Japan. Besides, there is a certain charm in grabbing some snack from a food stall and diving back into the festival crowd. I am sure that you will discover something new about Japanese festival food from the following article!

URL: https://festivalgo.huber-japan.com/events/5504/

More Lantern Festivals

I hope you enjoyed reading this article and it made you want to visit this great festival. Lantern festivals in Japan are very popular, and you can see it in any season. If you would like to know more about other lantern festivals in Japan, enjoy its mystical atmosphere, and admire a glowing night in Japan, please click on the link below and you will find an article on the best 13 lantern festivals in Japan!

URL: https://festivalgo.huber-japan.com/events/5021/

Would You Like to Know How to Enjoy a Japanese Festival Even More?

A lot of people when they get to a Matsuri for the first time feel a bit lost. They confuse about what is happening around. If you are new to Japanese Festivals or want to know an alternative way of how you can enjoy these events, the following article will provide you with a set of helpful tips on how to choose a proper festival and activities you should try there. Please don`t hesitate to take a look at it!

URL: https://festivalgo.huber-japan.com/events/5363/

Did You Know That There is a Festival Every Day Somewhere in Japan?

Japan is a country of festivals indeed. Matsuri is an essential part of traditional Japanese culture. Thus, every day somewhere in Japan a festival takes place. There are traditional and modern festivals, on the sea and on the ground, in summer and winter. Japanese are hardworking people. However, when you attend at least one festival in Japan, you will understand how locals like to party. The article under the link below will introduce you to a celebration on any day of the year. I am sure you will find an event that suits your interests utmost!

URL: https://festivalgo.huber-japan.com/events/6572/

Maggie

Hi! I am Maggie. I love traveling and telling people about cool things happening in Japan. Hope the article helps with your trip to Japan!

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