“Kanto Festival at Akita City”, c. 1960.

1960sAmusements & RecreationsArts & CultureOutside Tokyo
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“Kanto Festival at Akita City”, c. 1960. The Akita Kanto (“lantern”) is a festival celebrated every August in Akita City, Akita Prefecture, in hopes for a good harvest. The earliest record of the celebration dates to 1789. Dozens of lanterns are fastened to long bamboo poles, and then accompanied by drums and carried in a procession around the city.

See also:
“Akita Obako”, c. 1930.
Akita dog puppies, c. 1910.
Gion Matsuri (Gion Festival), Kyoto, c. 1930.

“For a moment everything stands still and then, with the signal of echoing sound of the bamboo flutes, 230 kanto [竿燈, ‘lantern’] poles are risen at the same time. The Festival has begun. In the swirl of cheering shouts, musical accompaniment, spectators’ shouts of admiration and encouragement, performers’ attention is concentrated to the Shinto offering of cut paper (gohei) which is placed at the very top of the 15 meters high bamboo pole – the Kanto.

“The true charm of the Kanto festival is the show of the performers – simultaneously checking the slightest move of the gohei that shows the direction of the wind and the tiniest unbalance, and at the same time managing freely the Kanto pole on their foreheads and lower backs. The shape of the whole Kanto can be compared to that of the ear of rice, all together 46 lanterns, imitating the straw bags of rice, swing at the slightest move.

“Furthermore, add to this constitution four to five bamboo extension poles (tsugidake), all with the diameter from only 7 to 8 centimeters, and the total weight of the Kanto, performers are carrying so gracefully, reaches more than that of an ‘ippyou‘ – one straw-bagful of rice, or approximately 50 kilograms.


Dokkoisho, dokkoisho,
Dokkoishosho, dokkoisho,
Oetasa, oetasa,
Nekkotsuida, oetasa


“When the hailing shouts to the bright ‘ears of the rice’ of a prayer for a good harvest become more powerful, the high spirits of the festival well up at a breath.”
Akita Kanto web site

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