Kantō [竿燈(かんとう)]

Kantō[竿燈(かんとう)] or Akita Kantō Matsuri[秋田竿燈(あきたかんとう)まつり] is a summer event held in Akita City, Akita Prefecture from August 3rd to 6th.

That is one of the Three Greatest Festivals in Tōhoku Region[東北三大祭り(とうほくさんだいまつり)] with Aomori Nebuta Matsuri[青森ねぶた祭](Aomori City, Aomori Pref.) and Sendai Tanabata Matsuri[仙台七夕(せんだいたなばた)まつり](Sendai City, Miyagi Pref.).

Kantō has been designated as Important Intangible Folk Cultural Property.

Akita Kantō Matsuri

Kantō also refers to a decoration used in the event. That is a long bamboo pole tied crosswise to other poles from which several dozen Chōchin[提灯(ちょうちん)](lantern) are hung.

Each performer walks while putting Kantō on the palm, shoulder, back and head like an acrobat. There are four size Kantō and tallest 12m Kantō, which has 46 Chōchins, is as much as 50kg.


Kantō originated from Neburi-nagashi[ねぶり流し] which is a ceremony of Tanabata[七夕(たなばた)]. People wrote wishes on strips of paper called "Tanzaku[短冊(たんざく)]" and hang them on the branches of Sasa[笹(ささ)](bamboo grass) and floated them on water for the purpose of warding off evil and plague. That was held on July 6th on the lunar calendar.

Neburi-nagashi and decoration like Kantō was introduced in "Yuki no furu Michi[雪の降る道(ゆきのふるみち)]" written by Sōan Tsumura[津村淙庵(つむらそうあん)] in 1789.


In the daytime, contests of Kantō are held and performers compete their techniques. Night is the best time to see Kantō. Soft lights of Chōchins illuminate the street while musicians play Taiko[太鼓(たいこ)](drum) and Fue[笛(ふえ)](flute). The sight is so fantastic and beautiful.

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