National

Aomori festival won't let 'Star Wars' floats join parade

Kyodo

Organizers of the Aomori Nebuta Matsuri, which gets underway this Sunday, will not allow much-awaited floats based on “Star Wars” characters to parade on the city’s streets, fearing they go against the festival’s cultural tradition and would attract too many visitors, causing turmoil.

Residents who had been hoping the floats would become a good opportunity to promote the city said they were disappointed by the decision.

Organizers announced in July that Nebuta floats depicting characters from the popular “Star Wars” movies would appear in this year’s festival.

Their design was created under the supervision of Lucasfilm Ltd., the producer of the films, as the festival’s first attempt to create floats using movie characters.

The promoter of the film series asked that the floats be pulled down the main streets of the city, but the organizers refused and instead decided to reveal them at an event to be held on the eve of the festival and put them on display during the festival.

“We put priority on preserving the tradition. I don’t regard (“Star Wars” floats) as Nebuta,” said Hidenori Nara, head of the organizing committee.

The latest episode of the film series is expected to be released in December, and Nara said if the festival is seen as a part of film promotion, it could have a negative impact on the event in the future.

Organizers also said there were concerns that the appearance of “Star Wars” floats would lead to a sharp increase in the number of visitors, making it difficult to ensure safety among the crowds.

The people making the floats said they can’t understand the decision, as their inclusion in the parade would help boost the region’s economy.

Noboru Shirakawa, a 68-year-old resident of Aomori, said children and visitors from abroad would have enjoyed looking at “Star Wars” Nebuta on the streets more than the traditional floats.

Aomori was recently ranked the most popular tourist site for festival-goers in a survey by major travel agent JTB Corp. The festival has been designated as an important intangible folk cultural asset.

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