Casting a spotlight on Takashi Kitamura and his daughter Asako: Artisans carrying on the Nebuta tradition across two generations

Here is an interesting fact about the Nebuta float installed in Fa-So-La AKIHABARA in Narita Airport Terminal 2. It was created by a father-daughter duo Nebuta artist—Takashi Kitamura and Asako Kitamura. The vividly glowing dynamic “moving” art piece is so captivating that it will make you lose your sense of time!

In Aomori, the birthplace of Nebuta, there are artisans called “Nebutashi” who make a living creating Nebuta floats. Nebuta floats they design are evaluated during the Aomori Nebuta Festival during summer where they are showcased, and awards such as “Best Nebuta” and “Best Creator” are given to outstanding floats, and these awards directly affect the reputation and popularity of Nebutashi. In this sense, it is similar to film industry’s Academy Awards.

Among those artists Takashi Kitamura and his daughter Asako are the top-notch professionals who have won many awards individually with their extraordinary skills and talent. Takashi has been making Nebuta floats for over 60 years, winning the Tamuramaro award (its name changed to the Best Nebuta award in 1995) 11 times and the Best Creator award and the Creation award 14 times. In 2012, he was bestowed with the “sixth Nebuta master” title, which is the highest honor for Nebutashi. Asako was trained under the guidance of her father Takashi, the master Nebutashi, and made her debut in 2012 as the first ever female Nebutashi. Since then, not only has she established her distinctive style characterized by the use of motifs that appear ethereal and by the soft and delicate use of colors, lines, etc., she has also won the Best Creator award and the Best Nebuta award.

The moving Nebuta titled “Gods of Sky and the Fight on Disaster”installed in Fa-So-La AKIHABARA in Terminal 2, which was renovated in December 2021, was co-created by these two master Nebutashi. It features three characters, “Fujin (God of Wind)”, “Raijin (God of Thunder)”, and “Disaster”, and the three-dimensional art piece, in conjunction with sounds and images, which symbolizes the guardians of the sky, Fujin and Raijin who are said to protect our day-to-day lives. Shopping before departure is of course a fun part of a trip, but don’t miss this amazing piece of art!

Even if you are unfortunately not using Terminal 2 this time, don’t worry. Terminal 1 and Terminal 3 also have Takashi Kitamura’s uniquely-themed creative Nebuta floats titled “Meka Goemon” (meaning “mechanical Goemon”) and “Kabukimono” respectively that you cannot see anywhere else, so don’t forget to check them out!

“Meka Goemon” in Fa-So-La AKIHABARA in Terminal 1

“Gods of Sky and the Fight on Disaster” in Fa-So-La AKIHABARA in Terminal 2

“Kabukimono” in Fa-So-La AKIHABARA in Terminal 3

(Information as of April 2023)