Hanagasa Matsuri, August, Yamagata-shi, Yamagata
Although it was first held as a festival in 1964 so is relatively new, the Yamagata Hanagasa Matsuri attracts more than 1 million spectators over three days and is now considered one of the major festivals of Tohoku (Fukushima, Miyagi, Iwate, Aomori, Yamagata and Akita prefectures). It is commonly included among the four greatest festivals of Tohoku, together with the Sendai Tanabata Matsuri (Sendai City), Aomori Nebuta Matsuri (Aomori City) and Akita Kanto Matsuri (Akita City).
A hanagasa is a hat decorated with artificial flowers. At the Yamagata Hanagasa Matsuri, dancers wearing the same costume per group and holding hanagasa hats adorned with Yamagata Prefecture's unique safflowers parade through the main street of Yamagata City. About 100 groups of a total of 10,000 dancers participate in this dance. The parade is led by gorgeously decorated festival floats. The unique shouts 'Yassho! Makkasho!' and the jovial beat of the hanagasa-daiko drums enhance the merry mood of the festival. The dancing form has gradually changed over the years. Formerly, beautiful group performances with perfectly synchronized movements were sought after. Today however, dance performances come in a wide variety, such as the spectacular twirling of the hanagasa hats and other unique creative performances, which are very popular.