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Senboku City , Akita
(Nishiki Mura)
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Paper Balloon Festival in Kamihinokinai    



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Entire story: 21 minutes
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"Paper Balloon Festival" is a traditional winter event in Kamihinokinai district in Nishiki town located in the eastern part of Akita Prefecture. Nishiki area is a district with a population of approximately 6,000 people, and is a heavy snowfall area where snow falls for 100 days in the winter. As an event held during these long winters, the people in Kamihinokinai launch paper balloons so that their prayers for bountiful harvests, family well-being, safe driving, and prosperity in business will reach heaven. The paper balloons are actually hot air balloons in which cloth balls soaked with oil are attached to openings in the bottoms of the balloons and ignited to heat the air within the balloons and create lift. It is said that these hot air balloons were introduced to the local people by Hiraga Gennai, who visited the copper mine in the district to provide technical guidance in the Edo period. The making of paper balloons commences in December every year in eight local districts. The paper balloons are created by gluing paper together, drawing rough designs, and coloring. They are then completed by attaching bamboo rings in time for the event which is held on February 10 every year. All people in the district, men and women and children, from young to old attend the event to launch paper balloons together with their prayers.

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