Nebuta: Floats of Dreams

Father vs. daughter for the top spot in paper artistry

The Aomori Nebuta Festival brightens up the short summer of northern Japan, enchanting 2.5 million spectators every year. At the heart of the 300-year-old tradition are Nebuta, huge illuminated paper floats featuring legendary heroes and historical figures. We spent a year following two Nebuta artists, a father and daughter, as they compete with each other for the year's top prize. Asako Kitamura, the first female Nebuta artist, chooses an innovative color scheme for her float. Her father, Takashi, rises to the occasion by raising his game, portraying five protagonists instead of the usual two, all while wrestling with advancing age.