Tsugaru-han Neputa Village


Neputa Q&A

We have compiled a list of answers to the most asked questions that we have had from our visitors.


Why is it called “Neputa”?
One theory is that in the Tsugaru dialect sleepy (nemui) is “nemute” or “nepute” and this evolved into “Neputa”.
For the origin of the “Neputa Festival”, it is said that in olden times, for farmers who are battling their sleepiness due to their busyness during the summer months, they would wash away their “sleepiness” by putting this onto boats and floats and float them away on a river. This was called “Nemuri Nagashi” and it is said that the festival evolved from this event.
What is the difference between “Neputa” and “Nebuta”?
It is very difficult to express the Tsugaru dialect in written word.It is thought that although the origins for “Neputa” and “Nebuta” are the same, the difference is due to accent.In old documents, “Nefuta” and “Nemuta” were also written but it also seems that there was another purpose, which was to show the difference in localities, with Hirosaki City’s being “Neputa” and Aomori City’s being “Nebuta.”
Why is “Neputa” fan shaped?
It is thought that this shape comes from the childhood nickname of the founder of the Tsugaru Clan, Tamenobu, which was “Ogi” (fan). Also “spreading out like an open fan” and “the spreading of prosperity” are the same Chinese characters, and a play on words, and may also be why it is one of the reasons why it is thought that the floats became fan shaped.
At the beginning, it was just plain square lanterns but in the beginning of the Edo Period, doll shaped “Kumi Neputa” were made. In the middle of the Meiji Era, fan shaped Neputa started to be made and now, most of the Neputa floats that participate in the festival are fan shaped.
The frame of the fan shaped Neputa are reused every year, unlike the Aomori Nebuta, costing less and using less labor, which may also be one of the reasons why it became popular.
What is the meaning of the “Kanun” drawn on the bottom of the Neputa?
From the front, it is read “Kanun” but if it is read from the right it is “Unkan”.In China, this means “Milky Way”.In one theory, it is said that the Neputa Festival evolved from the “Tanabata” Festival (Star Festival-where a two deities are separated by the Milky Way and can only meet once a year, at this time) and that is why this is written on the Neputa.
I have seen “Kingyo” (Goldfish) Neputa, why is it a goldfish?
There are no certain theories, but it is said that the Tsugaru lords liked the “Tsugaru Nishiki” goldfish, which were unique to the Tsugaru region, very much, and because of its extremely expensive price, ordinary people were not able to buy them, so they made floats to look like them.It is said that the “Kingyo (goldfish) Neputa” is the origin of the three-dimensional “Kumi Neputa.” Presently, it is mostly held by children and used as lanterns as they walk in the festival.
What is the meaning of the chant “Ya-Ya Do” in the Neputa Festival?
Although the detailed meaning is not known, in old literature there is a “Neputa Poem,” in which, “Neputa wa nagarero (Neputa float away), Mame no ha wa tomare (the bean leaf stills), iyaiyaiyayo” was written. It is thought that the “Iyaiyaiyayo” became the present day “Ya-ya do.”Another theory is that during a time where there were intense “Neputa battles”, although this can no longer be seen, the angry calls of “Ya! Ya!” which echoed on the streets, eventually became “Ya-Ya Do.”
How do you decide on the prize winners?
The Hirosaki Neputa prizes have a prize amount of 30,000 Yen or less. The “Governor’s Prize,” “Mayor’s Prize” and other prizes are awarded.Also, depending on the year there are special awards given.The prizes are decided on August 1st and 2nd during a joint review at Sakura O-dori, by top members of the city, chamber of commerce, tourist association, and Neputa groups.The marking standpoints are “construction,” “painting,” “parade formation,” and “music” with 5 points for each section for a total of 20 points.
What flower is painted on the tray like area around the Neputa?
First of all, the tray like area on the Neputa is called the “hiraki,”the flower that is drawn on all Neputa is the peony.The “Peony flower” is the coat of arms of the feudal lords of the Tsugaru Clan. It is thought that it was drawn there to honor the Tsugaru Clan.