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Tohoku Rokkonsai Festival Support for the Recovery and Future of the Tohoku Region
— Great East Japan Earthquake and
Tohoku Rokkonsai

Tohoku Rokkonsai

Tohoku Rokkonsai Festival

The six prefectures comprising Japan's Tohoku region suffered extensive damage when the Great East Japan Earthquake hit on March 11, 2011. In addition to numerous fatalities, missing persons and injured, at one point more than 450,000 people had to be evacuated. Amid vigorous recovery efforts consisting mainly of material support from throughout Japan and overseas, the intention was to continue holding early August summer festivals having a long history in each prefecture to dispel the sense of loss that spread across the affected prefectures. However, there was great anxiety over whether tourists would attend these festivals.

With the assistance of the Tohoku region prefectural government offices and chambers of commerce and industry located in the cities of Sendai, Morioka, Fukushima, Yamagata, Akita and Aomori, the decision was made to conduct a festival in Sendai called "Beacon of Recovery" (Fukko no Noroshi) representing the festivals in each of these six cities as an event drawing people to the main summer festivals, which are: the Sendai Tanabata Festival, the Morioka Sansa Odori Festival, the Fukushima Waraji Festival, the Yamagata Hanagasa Festival, the Akita Kanto Festival and the Aomori Nebuta Festival.

Dentsu Group Initiatives

Sensing these needs early on and recognizing their social significance, the Dentsu Group sought company sponsors mainly in Tokyo and made the decision to support the planning, implementation and management of this large-scale event. Specifically, we proactively promoted cooperation with local governments to create implementation plan proposals, negotiate with local municipalities, develop event naming and logos, produce TV-CFs, conduct sponsorship sales and engage in event management. Also, on this project, collaboration with newspapers, TV and radio stations in each prefecture were essential for PR and management of the event itself. We developed sponsor packages and created programs for PR and newspaper-related projects.

Tohoku Rokkonsai

Sendai: Tanabata Festival

Tohoku Rokkonsai

Sendai: Suzume Odori Festival

Tohoku Rokkonsai

Morioka: Sansa Odori Festival

The festival, titled "Tohoku Rokkonsai" to inspire victims of the disaster and call for nationwide support, was conducted for the first time in July 2011 in the city of Sendai, where nearly 360,000 people gathered to watch the Tohoku Rokkonsai Parade, which combined the festivals of all six cities and presented traditional Tohoku performance arts on a specially constructed stage. Over 60 companies sponsored this event, which had a ¥10.0 billion ripple effect on the local economy and was covered over 128 times in the media. All this combined to significantly increase the number of people attending festivals in each city.

Tohoku Rokkonsai

Fukushima: Waraji Festival

Tohoku Rokkonsai

Yamagata: Hanagasa Festival

Around the Six Tohoku Cities

Since then, the Tohoku Rokkonsai Festival has been held annually in Morioka, Fukushima, Yamagata and Akita. In June 2016, it was held in Aomori, completing a circuit through all six Tohoku cities. The Tohoku Rokkonsai Festival name is well-known as a big event able to attract around 250,000 people and create a significant ripple effect throughout a city's economy.

The Dentsu Group has supported Tohoku Rokkonsai Festival operations for the six years since 2011 as one of its Great East Japan Earthquake disaster relief activities. Dentsu has worked with these six Tohoku cities to facilitate the cooperation of over 360 sponsoring companies and numerous media companies, attracting more than 1.65 million people to the Tohoku region over the past six years. We believe the strong bonds forged when people are brought together in this way are the driving force propelling the further recovery of the Tohoku region.

Tohoku Rokkonsai

Akita: Kanto Festival

Tohoku Rokkonsai

Aomori: Nebuta Festival

Tohoku Rokkonsai

Dancers wearing multicolored festival costumes

Tohoku Rokkonsai

Finale photograph featuring mayors of all six cities and festival participants

The Future of the Tohoku Region

Now that the Tohoku Rokkonsai Festival has been held in all six Tohoku cities, there are already movements aimed at expanding new inbound visitors to the Tohoku region. The rich blessings of nature, delicious foods, warm interactions with kind people and other special aspects of Tohoku tourism cannot be effectively promoted through separate efforts in each prefecture. Thus, under the concept "Tohoku is One," the content power gained from the Tohoku Rokkonsai Festival is being actively used by the public and private sectors to increase the number of tourists, which had recovered to 1 million stays in 2016, to 1.5 million stays (total number of stays for all six prefectures) by 2020.


Project member

Masahiko Sato

Masahiko Sato

Director, Business Promotion Department
Regional Revitalization Office
Regional Innovation Center
Dentsu Inc.

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