The Akita Kanto Festival is one of the three great festivals of Tohoku along with the Aomori Nebuta Matsuri and the Sendai Tanabata Matsuri. It is a traditional festival in which strong people called Sashite march while firmly holding up long bamboo poles known as Kanto that have paper lanterns hanging from them. Using the entire Kanto and the lanterns to resemble an ear of rice and rice bales respectively, they are used to pray for abundant harvests.
The Kanto Festival is composed of two events, the Hiru Kanto during the daytime and the Yoru Kanto during the night. At the Kanto Myogi-kai during the day, which is also known as the Hiru Kanto, there are competitions among groups and individuals to determine who are the Kanto experts. The main night event is when the Kanto are lined along one side of Kanto-odori Street, and the participants raise them and shout “Dokkoisho Dokkoisho” to boost the festival mood. The Sashite participants place the massive, heavy Kanto in or on their palms, foreheads, shoulders, or lower back and manipulate them freely while keeping their balance.