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Tsugaru Hirosaki

Watch the majestic ‘Neputa’ floats in relaxed comfort as you enjoy a meal of local cuisine served on traditional trays – a feast fit for a ‘Daimyo’ (feudal lord)! ~ 3 hours to quietly but unashamedly soak up a sense of superiority! ~

- Watch around 80 extravagant Neputa floats of varying sizes parade right in front of you!
- Sit back, relax and appreciate the Neputa parade from raised-level seating!
- Reserved seating area includes chairs with backrests on traditional ‘goza’ woven-rush mats!
- Indulge in local cuisine from Hirosaki made with seasonal ingredients and served on traditional ‘Ozen’ trays!
- Toast with local sake and apple cider from the Tsugaru area!
- Take home gifts of locally handcrafted ‘Tsugaru-nuri’ lacquerware chopsticks and a ‘Tsugaru Vidro’ glass sake cup!
- A leisurely 3 hours for dinner!
- You only need to bring yourself – the rest is taken care of!

[’Daimyo’ (feudal lord) Obento menu]
Hirosaki City is located in the "Tsugaru region" of Aomori Prefecture. The climate is harsh, particularly the severely cold winters and heavy snowfall. In contrast, the region enjoys warm temperatures from Spring to Summer creating fertile conditions for local vegetables and wild plants. Autumn brings an abundant rice harvest and a wide variety of wild mushrooms. It has been long-held tradition in the Tsugaru area to preserve the food harvested from Spring to Autumn for eating during the long winter.

At the same time, the Tsugaru region is also blessed with abundant seafood, regardless of the season. Water rich in minerals and nutrients flows from rivers running through the beech-tree forests of Shirakami-Sanchi (a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site) to the Sea of Japan. These fertile waters are the ideal breeding ground for a rich variety of seafood and seaweeds, including tuna, abalone and turban-shells.

The traditional methods of both preparing dishes with abundant ingredients from mountain and ocean, as well preserving them to survive the severe winter, have been handed down as age-old wisdom from generation to generation in the Tsugaru region.
Relish the chance to savor Tsugaru’s culinary wisdom yourself while watching the Neputa festival.

* The following menu was provided in 2018. Please be aware that the ingredients and dishes may vary depending on the year.

>>> Upper row (of obento box)

- Kuraishi beef steak with apple-based sauce and grilled local vegetables
Local black wagyu-beef brand and pride of Aomori Prefecture, ‘Kuraishi beef’ glazed in an apple and soy-sauce based sauce. Served with lightly roasted zucchini and tomatoes cultivated in the natural World Heritage ‘Shirakami-Sanchi’ mountain ranges.

- Turban shell from Fukaura with salted sea urchin
The seafood produced in the Fukaura area, where the nutrients of the Shirakami-Sanchi mountains run into the ocean, is known for its high quality, but the local turban shells are particularly notable for their outstanding size and flavor. Pair it with the salted sea urchin to experience the delicate aroma of the ocean in your mouth. The soup left inside the shell is also a rich umami-filled appetizer in its own right.

- Salted squid
Local Aomori people love squid ‘shiokara’ – squid fermented in enzymes from its insides. The salty seasoning is subdued for a refined taste.

- Grilled scallops from Mutsu bay
Mutsu Bay is a prominent scallop production area. The scallops develop of rich flavor because of the high level of nutrients in the sea. Served grilled with soy sauce.

- Tempura ~ Dakekimi corn, Fukaura monkfish & octopus
Typical summer ingredients from the Tsugaru region served as tempura. The rich, sweet flavor of ‘Dakekimi’ corn is another local favorite. The flavorful octopus will leave a decadent taste lingering in your mouth. The delicious summer Monkfish is also full of rich flavor. Each mouthful will be unforgettable.

- Lake Ogawara wild eel with rice
Lake Ogawara, located on the Pacific side of Aomori Prefecture, is Japan’s most famous area for catching the ‘Nihon-unagi’ brand of wild (not farmed) eels. The delicate fattiness balances well with the rich flavor of the flesh. Served broiled in soy-sauce on a bed of rice.

>>>Lower row

- Black-eyed pea stir-fry
A staple summer home-cooked dish of the Tsugaru region. Thinly sliced black-eyed peas, carrots, fried beans, and vermicelli noodles are fried in a sweet and spicy seasoning. Highlighted with a refreshing sesame aroma.

- Pickled ‘Nagaimo’ (Japanese yam)
Yam broiled in soup stock and pickled with vinegar and salt. Enjoy the unique crisp firmness followed by smooth texture.

- Ika-sushi (boiled squid stuffed with lightly pickled cabbage)
A squid stuffed with lightly pickled cabbage and carrots. A refreshing flavor created by a fresh acidity and a light salty taste. Whilst there is no rice, the acidic sourness from the pickling earns its ‘sushi’ name.

- Fermented pacific herring
Another Tsugaru staple dish – herring pickled in ‘Koji’ malt.
The rich salty taste is an excellent match with sake. Also pairs well with a dry cider.

- Chrysanthemum and summer veggies ~ eggplant & cucumber ~ with Konbu seaweed
Summer vegetables like eggplant and cucumbers are finely diced and mixed with salted ‘naratake’ mushrooms and kelp harvested the previous year. The bright yellow of chrysanthemum petals is a treat for the eyes, and the crisp texture and exhilarating scent of the cucumber accents the otherwise sticky texture. The Tsugaru locals know that summer has arrived when this dish is served.

- Scallop dressed in miso
A great snack with sake made from scallops cultivated in Mutsu Bay, Aomori’s largest scallop production area. A light miso flavor accented with the lavish aroma of green onions. Garnishes of red salmon roe and yellow chrysanthemum petals are a treat for the eyes, too!

- Marinated Kazunoko (herring roe) with konbu seaweed
Kazunoko, kelp, pickled radish and squid. Enjoy the texture of each in this local Tsugaru delicacy. Flavored with a sweet soy-sauce.

- Pickled Mizu (wild vegetable)
Mizu, also known by its real name ‘Uwabamiso’, is a wild vegetable grown in the northeastern mountains of Tohoku from early summer to early autumn. In the Tsugaru region it is generally enjoyed lightly boiled and soaked in stock. The dish has a unique slimy texture following a crisp first bite described as ‘Tsurumeki-aru’ by Tsugaru locals. This dish goes well with beer or sake.

- Shiso-wrapped eggplant
This is another typical Tsugaru summer dish, featuring eggplant and miso wrapped in red perilla (shiso) leaves and baked in oil. The aroma of the perilla and sweetness of the miso are absorbed into the thick flesh of the eggplant, uniting to create a flavor sensation both fun and delicious.

- Fuji apple white-wine compote
A compote that plays on the natural acidity of the apples while bringing out their sweetness. A palate cleanser.

* The contents of the dish are subject to change. Please note.

Address Hirosaki City, Aomori Prefecture (Neputa festival reserved seating)

Number Of Participants 2-8 persons

Start Time 18:00-21:00

Run Term From Aug.01 2020 To Aug.04 2020


Why not discover ‘behind the scenes’ of Aomori at an event only seen during the first week of August? Every year from August 1 to 7, the people of Aomori Prefecture focus everything on one event – the ‘Neputa’ (or Nebuta) festival! Those from Aomori City typically call it ‘Nebuta’ and those from Hirosaki call it ‘Neputa’. By the way, ‘Neputa’ is a convenient word that refers to both the majestic floats of the festival as well as the festival as a whole – it’s a little complicated, isn’t it?



* Features of the Hirosaki Neputa
There are two main types of floats, fan-shaped and figure-shaped. In Hirosaki City, the majority of floats are fan-shaped. On the front side of the big fan you will find a colorful painting of a brave warrior scene from "Sangokushi, Three Kingdoms" or "Suikoden, The Water Margin" folktales, while the other side is often drawn with a bewitching beauty. The contrast of the two scenes is one of the main attractions of Hirosaki Neputa. Another unique feature of the Hirosaki Neputa is the call of ‘Ya-ya-dou’ that is cried out by the participants as they pull the floats slowly along.

* Features of the Hirosaki Neputa

* Features of the Hirosaki Neputa

* Origin of the NEPUTA festival
There are various theories about the origin of "Neputa", but it was originally an event held by Aomori farmers. It is believed that the "Neputa" festival serves the function of resting the body and opening the mind after the hard farm labor of Spring, in preparation for the coming Autumn harvest.
It might be a foreign concept for many, but in countryside Japan it is said that lazy habits and drowsiness of summer are evils that would hinder the Autumn harvest. To keep them at bay, this event has been held during the Tanabata festival in rural areas since ancient times. In the local Tsugaru dialect, "I want to sleep" is pronounced "Nepute", but overtime this word changed to "Neputa", and became the name of the event itself. Unlike many other Japanese festivals, "Neputa" is not a festival or ritual associated with a shrine or temple, but an event occurring among the common people. Prayers for a bountiful harvest and protection from catastrophes and disease are entrusted to the Neputa instead of praying to God. This annual event is an important source of energy and encouragement for the people of Aomori.

* NEPUTA is the soul of the AOMORI people!
This event brings together the local people in their shared hope for a bountiful Autumn to overcome the long, cold winter. For the Aomori people, "Neputa" is not only their soul and spirit, but it is maybe even Aomori itself. Oh, it is also a unique characteristic of Neputa that visitors can join-in the action! Why not take this rare chance to discover ‘behind the scenes’of Aomori – something you usually wouldn’t even catch a glimpse of?

Outline * What’s Included
- Obento style set meal
- 1 bottle of sake (720ml)
- 1 bottle of cider (375ml)
- 1 bottle of beer (350ml)
- 1 bottle of mineral water (500ml)
- 1 towel
- Traditional craft gift: 1 set of Tsugaru-nuri lacquerware chopsticks *You can take home
- Traditional craft gift: 1 ‘Tsugaru Vidro’ glass sake cup *You can take it home
- Reserved seat in raised seating area, on ‘goza’ woven-rush mats (900 mm x 600 mm space / 1 person)
- Seating: a legless chair with cushions and backrest
- Set-up & catering service
- Private English-speaking guide

* Not included
- Transport
- any hotel accommodation
- Rain gear
Any additional meals and drinks
Anything not included in the above 'included' list

Meeting place Aomori Bank Memorial Hall
* Please gather 10 minutes before the specified time

Cancellation Policy More than 30 days: Deposit
15 days - 29 days prior: 30%
6 – 14 days prior: 70%
No show – 5 days prior: 100%

Notice * Clothing
- Casual clothes are preferred
- We ask that you remove your shoes before the meal

* Seat
- Seats do have backrests but do not have legs.

* Meal
- For health and safety reasons, you cannot take home left-over food.

* In case of rain
We will contact a representative from each group of guests by phone by 17:00 on the day.
If the event is cancelled, the equivalent seating price will be refunded at a later date.
No refund will be provided if the event goes ahead and guests do not participate at their own will.

* If the minimum number of participants is not met the event will be cancelled.

Hirosaki Neputa Festival

Neputa VR movie

We have prepared special reserved seating from where you can appreciate the Neputa parade up close. Sit back and enjoy an ‘Obento’ style set meal of local cuisine while watching the parade of 80 Neputa floats of different sizes.

50,000 JPY per person (approx. $455)
Not Reservable

Popular Festivals


Experience 'behind the scenes' of a festival! Witness the Hirosaki Neputa floats come to life!

The giant fan-shaped "Neputa" floats can reach close to 10m in height! It takes local festival organizations around a month to construct a "Neputa" float and this experience program will let you participate in the ritual when the floats are bought to life! The Hirosaki Neputa Festival takes place over 6 days. One the eve before the first day, experience the rituals of the lighting ceremony, as locals pray for safety during the festival and perform Matoi dances for protection from fire etc. When the signal is given and the giant floats are lit-up, it really feels as if a giant creature has come alive – it will give you chills! After the ceremony, participate in a “Naorai” after party, drinking the ceremonial sake with the locals! Oh, and if you’re lucky, this is the only time during the festival where you might have the chance to participate in taiko drumming practice for the festival music - don't miss your chance!

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Watch the majestic ‘Neputa’ floats in relaxed comfort as you enjoy a meal of local cuisine served on traditional trays – a feast fit for a ‘Daimyo’ (feudal lord)! ~ 3 hours to quietly but unashamedly soak up a sense of superiority! ~

We have prepared special reserved seating from where you can appreciate the Neputa parade up close. Sit back and enjoy an ‘Obento’ style set meal of local cuisine while watching the parade of 80 Neputa floats of different sizes.

50,000 JPY per person


Dive into the Neputa festival in Hirosaki! Rare chance to be a main participant in the parade!

Participate in the magnificent and brilliant Hirosaki Neputa Festival parade with a local festival team! Wearing the same festival costume as the locals and shouting the festival chants at the top of your lungs, being part of the parade of giant Neputa floats parade the streets is no doubt as exciting as an outdoor concert or lively club! After the parade, celebrate together with the other team members over a cold beer!

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Experience 'behind the scenes' of a festival! Neputa float dismantling experience…take a piece of Neputa home!

The giant fan-shaped "Neputa" floats can reach close to 10m in height! It takes local festival organizations around a month to construct a "Neputa" float, which is then paraded around the streets of Hirosaki for seven days before being dismantled after the final day of the festival period. This experience program will allow you to join the ‘hagasu’ element of the dismantling, when the painted washi rice-paper that covers the floats is carefully cut and peeled off. Gradually peel away the pictures of brave warriors, the bewitching beauty and even decorative clouds and lotus flowers, part-by-part. What’s more! You can even take home the picture of clouds and lotus that you cut off the Neputa yourself. Keeping a part of a real Neputa float that was actually paraded in the festival for seven days will surely make for a lasting memory!

6,000 JPY per person