This is the first recording I made in Japan long before I started the organized journal entries. Thanks to my digital camera logging information like date and time I can add this entry under the correct date from the photos I took on the day.
Nebuta is one of the biggest annual festivals in Japan. It is held in August each year in Aomori City which is the capitol of the Amori Prefecture. People in Aomori spend weeks practicing for the festival and building beautiful floats out of paper in the lead up to the festival each year. They have to build new floats for each festival because the end of the festival involves setting all the floats out to sea where they set them on fire. This is a beautiful and tragic event as it is sad to see such amazing constructions destroyed each time. The4 festival runs for several days and has a gigantic street parade at night. There are over 2 million people who attend Nebuta every year.
I had not been in Japan for very long when my girlfriend (now wife) suggested we go along. I was still a little culture shocked from the huge difference between Australia and Japan, and I was actually reluctant to go along to things like this as I felt uncomfortable with there being so many people. To her credit Anna did convince me to go and I am so happy she did as it was truly amazing. We dressed up in the traditional yukata costumes and participated in the parade itself. Cheering and chanting and jumping up and down, there was so much energy it was incredible. Each person in the parade had dozens of little bells attached to their costumes to add to the noise, as we proceeded around the town we would detach the bells and throw them to people in the audience who were very keen to catch them as they were seen as very lucky.
The music itself consisted of a fairly basic drum and flute pattern and some chanting, but when that simple drum pattern is played by literally dozens of drums on giant trailers the result is incredible. The floats themselves had lights inside them to make them glow and they were carried by teams of people who made them charge and sway back and forth. Japan is full of festivals especially in Spring and summer, by comparison Nebuta is quite a late festival coming at the end of summer.
Stephan Schütze has been recording sounds for over twenty years. This journal logs his thoughts and experiences