Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Noren in Tohoku

Noren in Tohoku

Tohoku (東北) is the name for northeast Japan. The region consists of the following prefectures - Akita, Aomori, Fukushima, Iwate, Miyagi, and Yamagata.

Noren from Tohoku
Noren from Tohoku

Sendai, the largest city, on the Tohoku Shinkansen from Tokyo and Ueno stations is regarded as the main gateway to the region.

Tohoku is known for its apples in Aomori, rice and sake in Akita, fine food, craft beer (hops are grown here), beautiful women, and largely impenetrable accents.

Tohoku curtains
Noren in Tohoku showing a family crest or mon

The noren curtains you will see outside shops and businesses in the area reflect Tohoku's distinctive culture and its many festivals. In particular, Tanabata in Sendai, Neputa in Hirosaki, and Nebuta in Aomori city are major annual festivals. All draw thousands of visitors in a normal year.

The goldfish nebuta lanterns seen in the first and last photograph are believed to ward off bad luck. The lantern floats of the Nebuta festival itself are a common motif as are dragonflies and the mon (crests) of the one-time feudal lords (daimyo) of the region.

Tohoku noren curtains
Tohoku noren curtains

Noren curtains hung outside a shop or restaurant indicate whether it is open or not. They also define a transition from a public to a more private and intimate space.

Goldfish noren
Goldfish nebuta lanterns ward off bad luck

© GoodsFromJapan.com

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