Paper Lantern Festival Lights up Northern Japan City of Akita

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Festival partcipants carry poles with hanging lanterns during the Akita Kanto Festival in Akita on Thursday.

AKITA — Lanterns attached to large poles lit up the night sky on the first day of the Akita Kanto Festival in Akita City on Thursday.

Said to date back to about 270 years ago, the Akita festival is taking place without pandemic-related restrictions for the first time in four years.

During the festival, participants carry large lantern-bearing poles symbolizing rice stalks in the hope of a bountiful harvest. This year, 256 poles will be carried, the tallest of which is about 12 meters high and weighs about 50 kilograms.

Record rains in July left thousands of homes in Akita inundated. During the subsequent cleanup, lanterns were dried out in preparation for the festival.

“I was feeling gloomy, but the festival cheered me up,” said a 29-year-old woman whose house in Akita was flooded.

The festival ends Sunday.