Tradition/Culture

Nishiki
Nishiki

City designated intangible folk cultural property

Raising paper balloons in the upper tree

上桧木内の紙風船上げ

It is an annual event in which huge paper balloons with pictures of warriors and beautiful women are drawn and lit up in the midwinter night sky like glittering stars.

Nothing has written down the beginning of this event. Legend has it that Hiraga Gennai, a scientist from the Edo period, told him as a play that applied the principle of hot air balloons when he visited the technical guidance of a copper mine.

Previously, it was performed at the same time as "insect grilling" (which is made by stacking rice straw in a rice field and igniting it, also called "donto-yaki" or "tenburi") to pray for a good harvest and family safety, and it is regarded as a legacy of national beliefs. This event, which was temporarily suspended due to the war, was revived in Miyata in 1974 by the enthusiastic efforts of local volunteers in Kami-Hinokinai, and became a winter tradition that represents Akita Prefecture.

Structure of paper balloon

Literally, paper balloons are made of paper. In the past, we used calligraphy calligraphy, but in recent years, when it has become huge, we have started to use Japanese paper with a width of about 1 meter. Laminate this paper together to make a cylinder 3 to 8 meters long (12 meters for larger ones). The upper mouth is sealed with paper that matches the size so that hot air does not escape, and a bamboo ring with a diameter of 1 to 3 meters is attached to the lower mouth.

A tampo (a cloth ball soaked with oil), which is the lift source for paper balloons, is fixed to this ring to complete the process. Production of paper balloons begins about two months before the launch (usually December). In the eight villages of Kami-Hinokinai, when the time comes, men and women of all ages gather at each village hall to work together on a series of tasks, from cutting paper to selecting patterns and drawing.

In the Kaminoki area, which is surrounded by mountains on all sides, rice cultivation and mountain work have been industries for a long time, so in the past, we often prayed for "five grain abundance" and "no illness", but recently, " I have come to pray for "family safety," "prosperity of business," "traffic safety," and "pray for success." Paper balloons are launched in the midwinter night sky so that each person can entrust their thoughts and wishes for the year and reach the heavens.

Detailed Information

Street address
Ochida, Kamihinoki, Nishiki-cho, Semboku City, Akita Prefecture (Paper Balloon Square)
Street address(Japanese)
秋田県仙北市西木町上桧木内字大地田(紙風船広場)
Street address Ochida, Kamihinoki, Nishiki-cho, Semboku City, Akita Prefecture (Paper Balloon Square)
Street address(Japanese) 秋田県仙北市西木町上桧木内字大地田(紙風船広場)