Akita Kanto Festival
Akita-shi, Akita Prefecture
Akita Kanto Festival is one of the three great northeast festivals in Japan. It is an important intangible cultural folk tradition and its history dates back more than 260 years.
A number of lanterns known as “Kanto” are attached to the top of long bamboo poles that resemble rice plants. They are used to protect paddy fields and pray for a good harvest.
Young men then prop these poles up and parade them through the streets using only their forehead, waist, or shoulders. Manipulating the poles requires daily training in order to be able to balance them properly. These men use traditional techniques that have been handed down from generation to generation.
The origin of Kanto festival is thought to have originated around the middle of the Edo period. There is a theory that it was an Obon festival called “Neburi Nagashi” which was held to keep tiredness away.
In the past, it was thought that working in the summer heat was tiresome and therefore people became susceptible to disease.
It is believed that the “Kanto Festival” was made to get rid of tiredness.
Enjoy the amazing display of lanterns and admire the age-old techniques of balancing Kanto poles!