Tohoku "Kizuna" Festival in Fukushima draws 300,000 visitors, Yamagata named next year's host city

3 June 2019

The Tohoku "Kizuna" (unity) Festival 2019 closed its two-day run in the city of Fukushima on June 2, successfully bringing together six festivals from around Japan's northeastern Tohoku region.

On the final day, some 147,000 people visited the event, taking the total number of visitors to about 308,000, according to organizers. The two-day turnout was more than the 300,000 anticipated by the executive committee. At the event's closing ceremony, Fukushima Mayor Hiroshi Kohata, chairman of the committee, announced that next year's festival will be held in the city of Yamagata on May 30-31.

As its main event, a parade was led off by performers of the "Fukushima Waraji (straw sandal) Festival" from the host city, as was done the previous day, followed by those from the "Yamagata Hanagasa (flower hat) Festival," the "Morioka Sansa Odori (dance) Festival," the "Sendai Tanabata (star) Festival" and the "Aomori Nebuta (paper lantern float) Festival." They walked a loop of some 1.1 kilometers mainly on Route 4, while performers of the "Akita Kanto (pole of lanterns) Festival" pulled off stunning performances in several places along the course, hoisting a total of 16 long bamboo poles with paper lanterns attached. Festival performers acted with all their heart in a show of gratitude toward support for reconstruction from the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and ensuing tsunami that devastated the Pacific coastal region of Tohoku.

Highlighting the parade's finale on their way back, all of the approximately 1,200 participants performed in unison to the Aomori Nebuta Festival music. They waved to and shook hands with roadside spectators, smiling and sharing their joy and enthusiasm with the crowd.

In addition to the parade, a main venue and four subsidiary venues were set up to allow participants to promote products and tourist attractions within various parts of Fukushima and five other prefectures in the Tohoku region.

The Tohoku Kizuna Festival is organized annually by an executive committee. It is a follow-up event to the "Tohoku Rokkon (six spirits) Festival" launched in July 2011 on the theme of recovery from the quake and subsequent nuclear accident at Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s Fukushima Daiichi plant and the repose of victims' souls. The kizuna event was first held in 2017 in Sendai city, Miyagi Prefecture, followed by one in 2018 in Morioka city, Iwate Prefecture.

【Photo】 Performers of six Tohoku festivals dance together in the finale of a Tohoku Kizuna Festival parade on Route 4 in the city of Fukushima on the afternoon of June 2, bringing together spirits of Tohoku’s six prefectures.

(Translated by Kyodo News)