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The Kamihinokinai Paper Balloon Festival of Akita Prefecture: Video Introduction

This video, titled "[Aerial Footage] Paper Balloon Festival Kamihinokinai Night Flight Filming" (【空撮】2017冬祭り上桧木内の紙風船上げ Paper Balloon Festival Kamihinokinai Night Flight Shooting) was uploaded by "DIRECT Kaneko."
The Kamihinokinai Paper Balloon Festival is a winter festival in Nishiki, and the one shown in the video was held on February 10, 2017 in Semboku, Akita, in Japan's Tohoku region.
During the day, you can see the unique scenery of Japan's snow country, and at night, when the moon comes out, you can see the exciting aerial footage taken via drone. Please enjoy the collaboration of paper balloons and fireworks soaring high into the night sky!
[Video] 1:27 - Paper Balloons and Fireworks in the Night Sky

Kamihinokinai Paper Balloon Festival – The Characteristics and History of the Festival

The Kamihinokinai Paper Balloon Festival is a winter festival held in the Kamihinokinai district of Nishiki, Semboku, Akita on February 10 in the middle of winter. The festival features around 100 large paper balloons with paintings of warriors and beautiful women rising into the winter night sky like hot air balloons. It's a winter tradition in the Kamihinokinai area and attracts many visitors every year.

The Kamihinokinai Paper Balloon Festival is an event that has been handed down as a winter festival in one of Japan's higher snowfall areas. It has been handed down along with "mushiyaki" (虫焼き, an event where rice straw is piled up in a rice field and burned) to pray for a bountiful harvest and the safety of one's family. According to legends, the origin of the Kamihinokinai Paper Balloon Festival is said to come from Hiraga Gennai, a scientist from Edo period Japan who passed on the principles of hot air balloons.

Highlights of the Kamihinokinai Paper Balloon Festival

Image of paper balloons
Photo:Paper balloons

The Kamihinokinai Paper Balloon Festival is an Intangible Folk Cultural Property designated as such by the city of Semboku, Akita. Lit paper balloons soar one after another into the cold winter night sky. Roughly 100 paper balloons of various sizes are said to be made by residents of the Kamihinokinai area.

The highlight of the festival is the giant paper balloons. In recent years, the paper balloons are getting bigger and bigger. They are made of commercial Japanese paper about 1 meter wide and 3 to 12 meters long, pasted together.
The sight of the giant paper balloons rising into the night sky as the fire inside them rages on is quite the spectacle. Be sure to bring a camera as well, because the lit paper balloons rising up into the night sky surrounded by the beautiful snowy landscape of Akita are sure to be popular on Instagram.
[Video] 1:20 - Paper Balloons Soaring Up Through the Snow

What are the dates for the 2024 "Paper Balloon Raising in Kami-Hinokouchi"?

The Kamihinokinai Paper Balloon Festival is held every year from 6:00 p.m. on February 10th at the Nishiki Paper Balloon Square (紙風船館広場, Kami Fusen-kan Hiroba).
In 2022, the event was canceled to prevent the spread of the coronavirus infection, but a small-scale paper balloon event was held by locals to carry on the culture.
No official announcement has been made at this time (December 2023) regarding the 2024 event; if you would like to attend the 2024 event, please check the event information before you go.

Rice Paddy Art – Summer in Kamihinokinai!

Image of rice paddy art
Photo:Rice paddy art

Rice field art can be seen from late June to early September along the Akita Nairiku Line, which connects Takanosu Station in Kitaakita and Kakunodate Station in Semboku, Akita. There are works that can be viewed from the platform of Kamihinokinai Station as well.

Akita Inland Area Public Transportation Association and Kita-Akita Regional Development Bureau are recruiting design proposals for rice field art.Four 2024 designs have been decided out of 101 entries, and rice planting will take place around late May 2024, based on the design proposal.

Among the selected works are cute works drawn by elementary school students with colored pencils.The design requirement of the Uehiki area is that it expresses the characteristics of paper balloon hoisting in Uehiki.The 2024 film also features a dog along with paper balloons flying into the night sky.It may be an Akita dog.

It will be interesting to see how it looks as rice paddy art!

Sightseeing in Kamihinokinai

Image of Dogtooth Violet Colony, Akita Prefecture
Photo:Dogtooth Violet Colony, Akita Prefecture

Kamihinokinai, in Semboku, Akita, where the Kamihinokinai Paper Balloon Festival is held, is located to the northeast of Lake Tazawa, the deepest lake in Japan, and is a peaceful area surrounded by rich vegetation. Below is a list of some sightseeing spots in the area.

● Dogtooth Violet Colony (かたくり群生の郷, Katakuri Gunsei no Sato)
Katakuri (dogtooth violet) is a bulbous plant of the lily family. At the Dogtooth Violet Colony, the largest colony of dogtooth violet in Japan, visitors can walk along a carpet of pretty flowers blooming at the foot of the mountain in spring. Check the Katakuri-kan (かたくり館) website for information regarding the blooming of the flowers and the opening of the facility.

● Semboku City Paper Baloon Museum (紙風船館, Kamifusenkan)
This is a facility that displays the paper balloons used in the Kamihinokinai Paper Balloon Festival

● Lake Tazawa (田沢湖, Tazawako)
Lake Tazawa, home to the legend of Princess Tatsuko, is a beautiful blue lake where visitors can enjoy various views from season to season. In addition to historic sites, there are plenty of leisure spots to enjoy here.

Kamihinokinai Paper Balloon Festival Summary

The Kamihinokinai Paper Balloon Festival is a winter festival in one of Japan's heavy snowfall areas.
It's a lovely festival where paper balloons made by the locals soar in to the night sky.
If you're traveling to Akita in winter, consider visiting to see the fantastic balloons rising into the night sky. Don't forget to warm up in the hot spring village around Lake Tazawa as well!

Written By
Last Updated : Jan. 17, 2023
たまいゆき子(Yukiko Tamai)
Sometimes I suddenly feel the urge to try something new. Right now I'm trying my hand at being a wri
The Kamihinokinai Paper Balloon Festival – Paper Balloons & Fireworks in the Winter Night Sky in Semboku, Akita
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