Neputa lantern lift apparatus kills festival participant

Kyodo

A man in his 40s who was participating in the Hirosaki Neputa Matsuri Festival in Hirosaki, Aomori Prefecture, was found apparently crushed to death Tuesday evening while getting a huge Neputa lantern ready for the parade, it was reported.

The man was from the city of Hirosaki, according to the Hirosaki District Fire Department.

Hirosaki police said the man was working inside the Neputa, a huge fan-shaped lantern set on a carriage, at around 8:30 p.m. and got his head caught in elevator equipment used to adjust the height of the lantern, which is more than 5 meters tall. Large lanterns have such equipment installed inside them so their height can be lowered when they pass under traffic lights.

The festival, designated as one of the National Important Intangible Folk Cultural Assets, attracts some 1.6 million people every year. It began on Aug. 1 and was scheduled to run through Thursday, but after the accident, the organizers canceled Tuesday’s parade, which was halfway through. They were expected to decide Wednesday whether to hold the parade Wednesday and Thursday.