Pray for the Prosperity of the Community at the Kiriko Festival
The Noto Kiriko festivals are a spectacular display of culture and tradition that takes place across Ishikawa’s Noto Peninsula. These festivals, held from July through September, bring communities together to celebrate, pray for prosperity, and ward off misfortunes. The festivals feature large, intricately decorated lantern floats, lively parades, and a fiery climax that symbolizes the burning away of troubles. In this article, we will explore the significance of the Kiriko Festival, the traditions associated with it, and how to experience this unique cultural event.
The Significance of the Kiriko Festival:
The Kiriko Festival holds deep cultural and spiritual significance for the communities in Ishikawa’s Noto Peninsula. The first Noto Kiriko festivals were held in the late 17th century, with the aim of warding off epidemics and praying for good harvests. The word “Kiriko” means “sacred lantern,” and these lantern floats are the central focus of the festival.
The Kiriko floats are meticulously crafted and decorated with gold leaf and carvings. They can reach up to 15 meters in height and are carried by young adults during the parades. The lanterns on the floats are painted with Japanese characters and illustrations, and in recent times, some lanterns have even been adorned with pictures of anime characters. Each area of Noto takes pride in its own floats, and towns compete to create the most impressive designs.
Traditions and Customs:
Each Kiriko Festival has its own customs and traditions, making each event unique. The festivals feature lively parades of lanterns and portable shrines, accompanied by chanting, dancing, and merriment. The processions take place from dusk and continue late into the night, creating an electrifying atmosphere.
One of the most enthralling Kiriko festivals is the Abare festival in the town of Ushitsu. This festival kicks off the festival season on the first Friday and Saturday of July. The Abare festival, meaning “fire and violence,” features parades of mikoshi (portable shrines) and kiriko floats. Children sit on the upper decks of the wooden kiriko floats, playing drums and flutes. The highlight of the festival is the second night when teams of half-naked men thrash the mikoshi shrines against the ground, drag them through rivers, and toss them into fires. The festival reaches a feverish finale as the floats are set ablaze, creating a mesmerizing spectacle.
In other areas of Noto, the Kiriko festivals have their own unique traditions. Some festivals feature wild dancing, while others culminate with the floats being carried into the sea as fireworks light up the sky. In some towns, teams of women carry the floats, adding a touch of femininity to the festivities. These diverse traditions showcase the rich cultural heritage of the region.
How to Get There:
The Kiriko festivals are held throughout the Noto Peninsula, with different towns and cities hosting their own events. Kanazawa is the main transport hub in Ishikawa, offering train and bus services to the peninsula. If traveling by rail, you can take the JR Nanao Line from Kanazawa Station to reach the peninsula. The journey to Wakura Onsen takes approximately an hour by express train, and local lines continue from Wakura Onsen as far north as Anamizu. For those heading to Wajima, on the northern tip of the peninsula, the Hokutetsu express bus from Kanazawa is the most convenient option.
If flying into japan, there are direct flights from Tokyo’s Haneda Airport to Noto Airport, located in the center of the peninsula. From Noto Airport, you can rent a car or catch a bus to Wajima or Anamizu. The scenic coastal roads and light traffic in the region make it an ideal driving destination.
If You Can’t Make It to the Festival:
While attending one of the Kiriko festivals in person is the best way to experience the vibrant atmosphere and cultural traditions, there are alternative options for those who cannot attend. You can visit the Wajima Kiriko Hall in Wajima City, close to the Wajima Morning Fish Market. This hall showcases floats that have been spared from a fiery death or watery end, allowing visitors to get an up-close look at the intricate craftsmanship and artistic designs of the Kiriko floats.
The Kiriko Festival is a testament to the rich cultural heritage and community spirit of Ishikawa’s Noto Peninsula. These festivals bring people together to celebrate, pray for prosperity, and ward off misfortunes. The meticulously crafted lantern floats, lively parades, and fiery climax create a mesmerizing experience for both locals and visitors. Whether you attend one of the festivals in person or visit the Wajima Kiriko Hall, the Kiriko Festival offers a unique and unforgettable glimpse into the traditions and customs of the region.
Address And Maps Location:
6-1 Marine Town, Wajima-shi, Ishikawa-ken