TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – A giant Taiwanese lantern was included in the Aomori Nebuta Matsuri, an annual festival in northeastern Japan, from Aug. 2 to 7 to promote tourism to Taiwan, the Central News Agency (CNA) reports.
During the Aomori Nebuta Matsuri, giant warrior-shaped lanterns, known as "Nebuta" (ねぶた) in the Aomori dialect, are carried around Aomori City in a parade of dancers chanting “rassera” (ラッセラー), which serves as an invitation for those passing by to join them. The festival attracts approximately 2.8 million visitors annually and has been designated as an important intangible folk cultural property.
Giant "Nebuta" lantern (Source: Wikimedia Commons)
Coincidentally, Taiwan also has its own culture of giant lanterns, which blend well into the atmosphere of the festival. The Tourism Bureau of Taiwan thus cooperated with the local government and built one to participate in the event as well as to promote tourism.
The Taiwanese lantern, named “Marshal Tianpong - the flaming boar warrior” (火焰戰豬 - 天蓬元帥), was five meters tall, the standard height for Nebuta lanterns, and caught the attention of both tourists and locals, who were surprised to learn that they shared such a tradition with Taiwan. The lantern was based on the fictional character of Zhu Bajie (豬八戒), from the classical Chinese novel “Journey to the West,” who is portrayed as half-human and half-swine and is well-known in both Taiwan and Japan.
The Governor of Aomori Prefecture, Shingo Mimura (三村申吾), told the press that he was very honored to cooperate with Taiwan’s Tourism Bureau to promote bilateral tourism. He also announced that direct flights from Taoyuan to Aomori will increase in January 2020 from two per week to five.