In the Tohoku region of northeastern Japan, festivals are often occasions for communities to come together and pray for bright futures. More recently, they have also served as symbols of recovery after the Great East Japan Earthquake and subsequent tsunami hit the region on March 11, 2011.
Unfortunately, major summer events such as the Nebuta Festival in Aomori Prefecture and Sendai Tanabata Festival in Miyagi Prefecture, will be canceled this year to help curb the spread of COVID-19.
The cancellations will likely do great harm to artisans who specialize in traditional crafts and local specialties. Without the festivals, the number of opportunities to sell their wares have dwindled.
Since April 27, however, the organizer of Tohoku Standard Market, a website that promotes the region’s culture by selling goods online, has given consumers access to various regional products using the hashtag #tohokuru (https://tohoku.theshop.jp/categories/2277285), for an online fair that will be held until May 10.
So, even without the spectacles that the festivals offer, you can still have a private festival at home and enjoy traditional crafts such as unglazed clay dolls from Iwate Prefecture and lacquered chopsticks made in Fukushima Prefecture, while helping to support Tohoku’s artisans. Don’t forget, food is an important component of the celebrations as well, so make sure to check out the buckwheat pasta from Yamagata Prefecture and olive oil-packed iburigakko (smoked pickles) from Akita Prefecture, among other tasty culinary delights. (Yuki Yamauchi)