Imagine this: a city with streets barricaded off. Melodies of drums and flutes ring throughout the town so loud, they rattle your heart. People of all ages clad in a variety of traditional clothing are singing, dancing and shouting in their local tongue. Then, a line of 9 meter (30 ft) tall lanterns painted with samurai make their way through the streets. Tons of weight is being pushed and pulled along by men. They are not on motors. They seem to be alive.
This is Neputa Matsuri in Horisaki, Aomori. It's held from August 1st to August 7th. This festival has been practiced for over 400 years (except for the break it was forced to take during the years of WWII). The original Neputa "doll" was made in the shape of a warrior and used to decoy enemies; making them vulnerable for attack. Yes, this is a Samurai festival. The atmosphere is fierce, and the art is sometimes barbaric. To be blunt, it's intense--a must see for any foreigner.
I'm Nichole from LA in America. I've lived in Japan (Tokyo, Saitama, Ibaraki, Aomori) for 5 years so far.