Aomori Prefecture’s legendary Nebuta Festival – which takes place in early August every year – has always been one of those big festivals on my Japan bucket list.

Even though the festival is one of the prestigious few festivals to receive the staggeringly long designation of Important Intangible Folk Cultural Property of Japan, we’re willing to bet the festival is largely overlooked by Western visitors. This is, probably, largely due to Aomori’s fairly remote location; it’s a real pain to get to from Tokyo, Osaka or any of the other major cities outside of Sapporo.

But then, what if that wasn’t the biggest reason foreigners aren’t totally aware of this great festival? What if the real reason was the festival’s lack of Star Wars characters?

Luckily, whether or not that’s the real case, that sore lack of Star Wars characters at the Aomori Nebuta Festival is going to change this year.

Disney itself announced today that the 2015 Nebuta Festival would feature not one, not two, but four distinct Star Wars-themed paper “nebuta” lantern floats. Here’s footage of our reaction to the news:

The Nebuta Festival is known primarily for its long procession of the titular nebuta floats, which are constructed from the same type of sturdy paper as traditional Japanese lanterns – except that the nebuta, which are absolutely massive, depict all kinds of badass deities and historical scenes important to Japanese culture in stunning detail. Lit from the inside, by candles in the old days and now mostly by bulbs to reduce the risk of fire, the nebuta give off a distinctive, ethereal glow as they’re carried down the street by dozens of volunteers.

Given the cultural importance of the Nebuta Festival, it’s unsurprising that the characters depicted by the nebuta floats tend to come from old-timey mythology and, while fictional pop cultural characters make occasional appearances, the four Star Wars floats will be the first such to depict characters from a foreign pop culture franchise.

Disney has so far released details about three of four of the floats – with the fourth presumably set for a surprise unveiling at the event itself. Here are the three we know about so far:

The R2D2/C3PO “Droid Nebuta”


The “Jedi Nebuta” featuring Luke Skywalker, Yoda and Obiwan


The “Sith Nebuta” depicting Darth Vader, Darth Maul and Emperor Palpatine


The above pictures are obviously just 2D representations of what the 3D nebuta will eventually look like. Again, no word on what character or characters the fourth nebuta will depict, but, hey, fingers crossed for Jar Jar, amirite guys?

Has the idea of seeing your favorite Star Wars characters as massive lantern floats convinced you to push your Japan travel plans to August, 2015? This year’s festival begins August 1 with a pre-ceremony that will see the Star Wars floats paraded around town, while the festivities proper run from August 2 to 7. There’s some decent information on getting to and from Aomori at the Nebuta Festival’s official English website, but do be aware that the information listed is for the 2014 festival.

Note that after the pre-ceremony, the Star Wars nebuta will be housed at the Wa Rasse Nebuta Building here.

Source and Photos: Disney, “Fisherman” via Wikipedia