Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Akita Kantou Festival 2011 ♥ Part II

To add on to my previous post, here's more information on the Akita Kantou Fesitval Held in the Akita Prefecture, the bamboo poles with lanterns in the shape of bales of rice hanging on them are collectively known as "kantou"; hence the name of the festival. The bigger, heavier kantou are known as oowaka, and the smaller version for kids are called kowaka/youwaka.

Like the brochure says, this year, the festival was held from 3~6 August.

In the entire festival, there are 250 poles and 10,000 lanterns.
It really pretty seeing a sea of yellow-orange lights illuminating the night.

This brochure shows the size of the oowaka and components. Unextended, the oowaka is 12m and weighs around 50kg. To the rhythm of the beating drums and flutes, all 250 lanterns are hoisted up simultaneously, and performers take turns balancing them whilst ensuring that no candle loses its flame. A piece of paper, a Shinto offering known as "gohei" is attached at the top of each oowaka, and also aids in showing the wind direction.

It was really hot and humid that evening, saw this fan on a stand behind us and asked if it was on sale, but it was free. Turned out that the stand behind us was a stand by Japan Post, the postal service of Japan. They were also selling commemorative letter sets, postcards, stamps and other postal-related memorabilia.

This one caught my eye.
A postcard depicting the performances in the festival.
The men balance the whole weight of the huge poles on a tiny area on their bodies.

Also got a limited edition stamp set depicting the festival.

The stamps say "Akita Kantou Matsuri" and show various pictures of performers and parts of the festival.

At points in the performance, the performers add bamboo extensions to make the base longer, extending it beyond the original 12m and making it harder to balance, as in the stamp on the right.

The kind person manning the stall also gave me a free file, red star keychain, packet of tissues and face towel with my purchases^^

As the procession moves along the streets, you'll hear shouts of どっこいしょ! どっこいしょ! (dokkoisho! dokkoisho!)

Having so many poles of lanterns illuminating the night, accompanied by the melody of flutes and rhythm of drums is truly a beautiful experience


  1. Ooh, the postcard looks really cute!! Such an interesting festival, they don't have ones like this where I live!

  2. @Julie ♥
    There were other designs to but I think most of them sold out by the time we discovered the stand (though it was right behind us! ^^) Yeah, I wish my country had festivals like these, it's amaaaazing!

    ♥ Karisa