It is wonderful seeing performers at Japanese festivals, but how about becoming one for a day? At Neburi-Nagashi Hall, also known as the Akita City Folk Traditions Hall, you can learn about unique festivals and dances of the region. If you are brave enough, you can even participate! For the traveler in Japan, it can be difficult to match your schedule to each of the festival dates in each region or country. Although I highly recommend stopping by Akita in early August to see the Kanto Festival, you can rest assure knowing you can experience a small part of the festival along with some local history year-round at this museum.
Empty some pocket change to pay your 100 yen at the museum entrance and let the fun begin. The first room has a ceiling over three stories high—and for good reason. This is the Kanto Festival practice center. Here you can do as Kanto performers do: lifting and trying to balance various sizes of large poles with hanging lanterns. Don’t worry—these ones are not lit! This is incredibly challenging because strength is just as important as balance. Sometimes there are locals here to give you tips or show off their moves. The largest of bamboo poles stretch all the way to the ceiling, just short of giving it a kiss. Also in the room are some displays and a video (in Japanese) about the festival. In the corner are rows upon rows of beautifully designed lanterns.
Take a break from your performing and tread upstairs to see some more cultural displays. Artifacts and models recreate the folk history of Akita. Perhaps more exciting is there are windows from upper floors to look down upon the practicing Kanto superstars. On another floor is a taiko practice room. Taiko are Japanese drums. If you have some energy left, it is fun to hear the different sounds the varying sizes can make.
The last part of your trip, and included with the admission, is an old merchant house connected to the museum. Inside you’ll see what an actual store looked like in old Akita. The architecture, music, and models really set the scene. With such a convenient location and being close to other attractions like Senshu Park, the Neburi-Higashi Museum should be written on your itinerary for things to do in Akita.