photos by Iwan Baan
Iwan Baan was recently in Aomori photographing the Nebuta House during the Winter Nebuta Festival (冬ねぶた). The festival is the first to be held during the winter and marks the launch of the new Tōhoku Shinkansen terminal at Shin-Aomori Station and the opening of the Nebuta House. Iwan Baan has photographed buildings by Herzog & de Meuron, Toyo Ito and S A N A A, among others, and is known for his dynamic style that sees each building as a backdrop for people and elements of everyday life. Much of the surrounding cityscape on Aomori’s waterfront is made up of uniform box-like buildings. Dispersed within this uniform texture are urban objects like power lines and vending machines. In this context, the Nebuta House appears as a red curtain at the end of the street activating the streetscape and transforming everyday experience into theatre.
With the streets closed off to traffic and almost 10 inches of snow, tourists milled about, buying special oden, milk curry or fried apples from street vendors in the glow of handmade snow lanterns, lit with flickering candles. Friday was the first day of the three-day event and the Nebuta House was crowded with locals and tourists alike.