Travel Japan: Noto Kiriko Festivals Summer to Autumn 2016

With material from a release:

Travel Japan: Noto Kiriko Festivals
Summer to Autumn 2016

Giant lantern floats, decorated portable shrines and cheering crowds lit up by free flowing sake.. Noto Kiriko festivals have been held since the Edo period. From summer to autumn, Kiriko Festivals take place all over parts of the Noto region in the northern part of Ishikawa. The Kiriko lantern floats are paraded through the streets with portable shrines for the deities to ride on. At dusk, the Kiriko are lit up creating a magical ambiance as they come and go.

Each area of Noto holds its own version of the festival. At the Abare Festival in Noto Town, aka "the Fire & Violence Festival," the giant kiroko are set on fire on the pier at the end of the parade to the beat of taiko drums, gongs and flutes. In Anamizu, the the Kiriko are carried out to sea.

The Noto Peninsula
The Noto Peninsula extends into the Japan Sea from the Okunoto Coast in central Honshū, the main island of Japan, and is often called the "treasure box of festivals." Here, the spirit of the festival has been handed down from generation to generation since ancient times in an area that also preserves traditional rural culture.

Noto is often passed over by tourists, yet it is an area of lush green hills and gorgeous coastlines, home to unspoiled fishing villages.
  • Getting there is easy, with two flights to Noto airport from Tokyo daily along with mutiple options for bus or train travel. 
  • Getting around - public transportation is limited so your best bet to explore the Peninsula is a car rental.
Local cuisine is dominated by fresh fish and seafood - naturally - along with game and fine local sake.

Tip: The Noto Peninsula is home to an established glass making industry and you'll find many artisans and gorgeous pieces for sale, along with the Glass Art Museum on Noto-Jimu Island.
Noto Peninsula, Japan
History of the Kiriko Festivals
The date of when the first proper Kiriko Festival started in Noto is unknown. However it has been confirmed that a 4m – 5m tall bamboo Kiriko with a small lamp on top was used at the Sumiyoshi Shrine festival in Wajima in 1647. The success of the Kitamaebune trade ship brought economic prosperity to the port towns in Wajima and the surrounding area (during the 1800s), and with this the Kiriko floats grew in size and were decorated in Wajima lacquer. It is said that the floats were as tall as 10m in height during the 18th Century, however in the 20th Century with the development of telegraph poles, they had to be shortened to 4m – 6m.

At present, there are Kiriko festivals taking places in over 100 regions from early July to mid-October. Unfortunately there has been a decrease in float bearers on festival days and in turn the number of Kiriko used is falling every year. Despite this, inclusive of the preserved floats there are 700 – 800 Kiriko.

• Check out the long list of Noto Kiriko Festivals at the link

Schedule for Main Kiriko Festivals
  • Abare Festival (1st Fri – Sat of the month / Noto Town)
  • Nanao Gion Festival (2nd Sat of the month / Nanao City)
  • Koijihi Festival (Day before Sea Day / Noto Town)
  • Iida-machi Toroyama Festival (20th – 21st July / Suzu City)
  • Noto-jima Koda-no-hi Festival (Last Sat of the month / Anamizu Town)
  • Nafune Taisai Festival (31st July / Wajima City)
  • Yanagida Taisai Festival (16th July / Noto Town)
  • Issaki Hoto Festival (1st Sat of the month / Nanao City)
  • Horyu Tanabata Kiriko Festival (7th August / Suzu City)
  • Saikai Festival (14th August / Shika Town)
  • Okinami Tairyo Festival (14th – 15th August / Anamizu Town)
  • Sosogi Taisai Festival (17th – 18th August / Wajima City)
  • Wajima Taisai Festival (22nd – 25th August / Wajima City)
  • Niwaka Festival (Last Sat of the month / Noto Town)
  • Togi Hassaku Festival (4th Sat – Sun / Shika Town)
  • Jike Kiriko Festival (14th September / Suzu City)
  • Tako-jima Kiriko Festival & Hayafune Kyogen Play (10th – 11th September / Suzu City)
  • Shoin Kiriko Festival (14th – 15th September / Suzu City)
  • Ogisode Kiriko Festival (3rd Sat – Sun of the month / Noto Town)

Kiriko Lantern Museum
Open year round, the Kiriko Lantern Museum in Wajima’s Marine Town has the oldest existing Kiriko lantern floats and models of the Noto Peninsula festivals displayed. There are over 30 floats of various sizes including ones that have been designated as cultural properties by Wajima City. The room is arranged to give the same magical feeling as being in a festival with a summer evening-like lighting paired with the sound of festival music and people being played in the background.