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Various opinions about the beginnings ando original form of the Kanto
Kanto Festival is held to drive away diseases and malice of the midsummer, an annual event to "wash away" sleepiness, the prototype of which can be found as long ago as in the Horeki Period (1751-1764).
The oldest literature concerning Kanto dates back to 1789 (Kansei Gannen). It is the travel diary of Tsumura Soan "Yuki no Furu Michi" ("The Road Where the Snow Falls"), where he is introducing the Neburi-Nagashi event that took part on the 6th day of the 7th month of the lunar calendar. By that time, the event was introduced to be the original tradition of Akita.
Long bamboo poles were structured in a shape of the cross, to which many lanterns were fastened; then accompanied with the drum sound this construction would be carried in a procession around the town. It is said that the lamplight would be seen as far away as two to three blocks.
Originally, before the Satake Clan arrived to rule in the region, in the surroundings of Akita already was the tradition of the Neburi-Nagashi festival ("Wash away sleepiness"), during which the bamboo and silk tree poles were decorated with the strips of paper with the wishes written on them. The processions carrying these poles would proceed through the town and, at last, the decorated poles would be set adrift in the river.
In Horeki Period (1751-1764), the candles became more popular, and high garden lanterns were placed in front of each and every gate during Obon festival; it is also considered that assembling these lanterns and other decorations might have further developed in the famous and original festival.
Neburi-Nagashi Festival was the event to pray for the rich harvest and the success for arts and crafts, and together with the Tanabata festival, which was held on the next day, respectively, July 7, these festivals were welcome the following Obon festival, held on July 15 (the lunar calendar). Meant to drive away all the evil spirits, to purify the minds of people and to pray for the rich harvests, these festivals created the basis on which the Kanto gradually developed to the form we know now.