Aomori Nebuta Matsuri (Aomori Prefecture) – At this famous festival, fantastical warrior dolls and beasts are illuminated atop giant, multistory floats as musicians and haneto dancers pack the streets.
Aomori Nebuta Matsuri – According to legend, the colorful burst of drums and dances are intended to rouse people from their summer lethargy.
Aomori Nebuta Matsuri – The magnificent floats are made with painted washi paper sculpted over wire, bamboo or wooden frames.
Morioka Sansa Odori (Iwate Prefecture) – This festival is listed as the world's largest taiko drum ensemble in Guinness World Records.
Morioka Sansa Odori – Half-meter-wide taiko drums are strapped to the front of participants.
Akita Kanto Matsuri (Akita Prefecture) – Paraders skillfully balance these huge, popsicle-shaped tiers of lanterns on their foreheads, shoulders or backs.
Akita Kanto Matsuri – The bamboo columns can be up to 12 meters long and weigh up to 60 kilograms.
Sendai Tanabata Festival (Miyagi Prefecture) – During this festival downtown Sendai's shopping arcades get transformed into a forest of handcrafted, elaborate streamers made out of colorful washi paper and bamboo poles.
Sendai Tanabata Festival – Also known as "the star festival," Tanabata is based on a Chinese legend about two star-crossed lovers.
Sendai Tanabata Festival – Though festivals are held all over Japan in its honor, the one in Sendai, held every year from August 6 to 8, is one of the most famous.
Waraji Matsuri (Fukushima Prefecture) – At this funky festival, oversized waraji (straw sandals), hoisted up by participants, are paraded along the streets of Fukushima.
Yamagata Hanagasa Matsuri (Yamagata Prefecture) – This festival sees costumed women dance while wearing or holding hanagasa hats decorated with artificial safflowers.