HIGASHI-MATSUSHIMA, Miyagi Prefecture--Since most evacuees from last year's earthquake and tsunami could not attend the famed Aomori Nebuta Festival, a group of volunteers wondered, why not bring it to them?
So, they built an illuminated float similar to those used in the popular Nebuta Festival in Aomori Prefecture and pulled it through the streets here on Aug. 18 to lift the spirits of evacuees of the Great East Japan Earthquake.
A group of volunteers from Aomori city pulled the float in a summer festival organized by evacuees living in temporary housing facilities in Higashi-Matsushima, Miyagi Prefecture, which was devastated by the March 11, 2011, quake-induced tsunami.
“As those living in the same Tohoku region, we want to support people in devastated areas,” one of the volunteers said.
The group, “Aomori Jawamegi-tai” (Aomori buzz troupe), built the float over two months, which measures about 4.5 meters in length and 3.7 meters in height. The size is about half those carried in the traditional Nebuta Festival held in Aomori Prefecture in early August.
Shortly before 7 p.m. on Aug. 18, the glowing float was lit by lights, and sounds of whistles and drums began to be heard. Then, the volunteers started to pull the float while chanting loudly, “Rassera, rassera.”
More than 2,000 spectators in the festival site shouted for joy and joined in the festivities, as the site was filled with an air of excitement and gaiety. About 1,100 evacuees are living in the temporary housing facility.
Aomori Jawamegi-tai, which also carried a float in Yamada, Iwate Prefecture, and other places last autumn, plans to participate in other festivals in Iwate and Fukushima prefectures in and after September.
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