Tachineputa in Goshogawara: The World’s Tallest Paper Sculptures

Culture - Goshogawara-city

A Tachineputa coming out of the “Tachineputa no Yakata.”

Every summer, the world’s tallest paper sculptures, known as Tachineputa, parade through Goshogawara City. The 23-meter high illuminated creations, weighing 19 tons in total, feature legendary samurai war-riors and folk heroes. Following the multicolored giants, locals chant “Yattemare!” (now or never) while dancing to flutes, drums and bells played by traditional Japanese musical performers known as hayashite. With each sculpture taking an entire year to create, Goshogawara City dedicates itself so that the floats can be enjoyed at the festival, which lasts just five days from August 4. The “Tachineputa no Yakata” (Tachineputa Museum), where the sculptures are preserved and displayed, is like an airplane hangar. It also serves as a studio for their creation and is a must-see for visitors. As well as Tachineputa, Goshogawara City and its surroundings offer many attractions, including a century-old manor house built by a rich landowner.

What Is Tachineputa?

Tachineputa or Tachinebuta, is one of the oldest summer festivals in Japan celebrated in many cities across Aomori Prefecture every year. Its framework is built from wood and bamboo bound with wires. Once it is covered over with white washi paper blankets it is then painted in a rainbow of colors becoming the illuminating floats marching through town with hayashite and dancers referred to as haneto tailing from behind. The largest ones are those made in Aomori City but Goshogawara City has the tallest ones of them all. Being one of the most valued festivals, the Goshogawara City removed all power lines and poles and reinstalled them underground for the Tachineputa. In the old days the sculptures used to be so tall that it could be seen from the neighboring cities. However, over the years it was made smaller due to large fires and introduction of power lines and poles. Missing the float’s magnitude and grandness, a city official took action to bring back its glory and formed a union. For the first time in nearly 90 years, the grand-sized Tachineputa was finally brought back in 1998. For this history, there is strong passion shared amongst the people of Goshogawara City, and it is known that the music and dance performed at the festival are far more dramatic and dynamic.

Dancers and musical performers parade the town center during the festival

1. Tachineputa Museum

The 7 story high Tachineputa Museum has an astoundingly high ceiling housing three huge Tachineputa. Even in this spacious area, it already seems packed with all three paper giants illuminated by 1,000 light bulbs standing still and waiting for their once-a-year outing. The museum opened in 2004 and has been the home for creating, displaying and storing Tachineputa. Visitors can enjoy the sculptures up close from all angles after reaching the top floor on the panoramic elevator and climbing down the spiral pathway. On the day the festival begins, one of the massive walls of the building would slide open, unleashing the three Tachineputas into the city. The museum can be reached in 45 minutes by car from Shin-Aomori Station or Aomori Airport.

“Tachineputa no Yakata” and Tachineputa stored and displayed inside

Point of Interest―Tachineputa Workshop

On the 3rd floor of the building, there is the Tachineputa Workshop led by Neputa Meisters where many young people are taking part in creating new Tachineputas all year round. If you want more than just observing, you can get a taste of real Tachineputa making by participating in their washi pasting activities held from late April till mid-June of each year. At the end of the activity, participants can receive a “Cer-tificate of Washi Pasting” for free. By July all neputa parts such as the head and body would have been completed. Then, they would be assembled into one within the building which is also a spectacular event to see.

2. Notes

Tachineputa Museum(Japanese language site)

Address: 506-10, Omachi, Goshogawara City, Aomori Prefecture, 037-0063,
Tel: +81-(0)173-38-3232
Opening times: Apr to Sep 9:00 – 19:00 (closes at 17:00 during the festival), Oct to Mar 9:00 – 17:00
Closed: Jan 1
Admission: JPY 600

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