Nebuta Artisans Spend a Year Creating Nebuta Floats

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Prof. Toru Anami, left, talks about the works of nebuta artisans.

This time’s theme is nebuta artisan who makes nebuta floats. Toru Anami, a professor of folklore at Edogawa University, will teach us about them.

Yui Yokoyama: Is nebuta crafting a profession?

Anami: That’s right. In the case of the Aomori Nebuta Festival, there are currently 14 artisans working on nebuta floats. The nebuta artisans lead a team to make a framework with wire, stick paper, and draw pictures. I think of them as artists.

Yokoyama: How long does it take them to complete it?

Anami: It takes a whole year from conception to completion, but they don’t actually start building it until winter. The first step is to make the parts for the hands and feet. For the Aomori Nebuta Festival, the nebuta hut will be built in May, and the parts are put together there to complete it.

Yokoyama: I have been there. I was allowed to put paper on it. I pasted the paper and cut off the leftover parts, but my hands were shaking because I was afraid I would cut the rest of the paper. The white nebuta before the painting was also very impressive.

Anami That must have been a wonderful experience.

Yokoyama: What do the nebuta artisans do with the ones they worked so hard on after the festival?

Anami: Most of them will be dismantled.

Yokoyama: What!?

Anami: It is said that the origin of the festival was Nemuri Nagashi, in which lanterns are floated into rivers and the sea. Some of the nebuta floats that have won awards are displayed at the Nebuta Museum Wa Rasse in Aomori City, but after a year, they are destroyed.

Yokoyama: Is that so ……