Japanese junior high school artist prepares for Neputa festival

A junior high school student in Aomori Prefecture, northeastern Japan, has been busy painting a large float that will parade through the city of Hirosaki in a famed Neputa festival to be held in early August.

The Hirosaki Neputa Festival is one of Japan's major summer festivals. Fan-shaped floats with pictures depicting historical figures, such as warriors and beauties, parade the streets, accompanied by music played on traditional Japanese instruments.

First-year junior high school student, Kikuchi Kotaro, is a member of one of the citizen groups taking part in the festival. Kikuchi has been tapped to design the illustration that adorns his group's float.

He has been receiving guidance from his mentor, Neputa master Yamaya Juka, since June. On Sunday, he was drawing in a workplace in Aomori City.

Kikuchi's painting is based on China's Three Kingdoms period. He has sketched warriors fighting in a war on fan-shaped Japanese washi paper, measuring 2.5 meters long and 3.5 meters wide.

He was coloring with red and yellow colorants the warriors' armor and limbs with utmost care, following his mentor's instructions.

Kikuchi said he is happy, as it is his dream to come out with a float for the festival. He added that he hopes to create a float that will leave an impression on spectators.