Besides reading scary stories in the summer (it makes you sweat), Japanese like to parade huge floats on a number of occasions.
Two August festivals light up the night with their giant papier mache floats.
It's already Friday in Tokyo as I am writing this and Spirit Parties (Metropolis, July 31) highlights a number of Summer festivals taking place around the country.
They start with Nebuta Matsuri (ねぶた祭り in Japanese) which runs from August 2 to August 7 in Aomori.
Here's Metropolis introduction to the event:
The Nebuta Matsuri was originally part of Tanabata, the festival of star-crossed lovers that’s now marked on July 7. It’s best known for its spectacular floats, which bear enormous papier-mâché lanterns depicting samurai warriors and characters from kabuki plays. After being paraded around the city for a few days, these floats are judged and the winners placed aboard a ship for a valedictory tour of the harbor. A similar event is held in nearby Hirosaki from August 1-7-though,confusingly, they change the name from "Nebuta" to "Neputa."
The Neputa in question is Tachi Neputa.
The difference between the 2 festivals, besides the location according to Frank La Riviere is "particularly in the size. The Neputa are roughly 20 meters high! they are build and stored to be reused in contrast to the Nebuta that are rebuild every year."
Check some of the giant creations captured by Evon Pike for Japan Daily Photo (added in February 2008)
You can learn more about Nebuta Matsuri from the Official Aomori Nebuta Site (whose illustration I borrowed).
Floating above ground for Tokyo Thursdays # 98