If you want to experience “ real traditional Japanese festival” , I would advise you to go Noto peninsula, Ishikawa prefecture in Japan. There are one of the most exciting and magnificent festival in Japan called 『KIRIKO-MATSURI (Kiriko-festival ) 』is held between the beginning of July and September.
Here in this web site, I would like to share some very important tips about transport, hotel and schedule of the festival to enjoy it more as whole of Ishikawa prefecture is still not an “English-friendly” region yet.
What’s “Kiriko-matsuri “?
“KIRIKO（切籠）” is a cuboid shaped lantern made with Japanese paper and a kind of cypress trees. It has a wide variety of sizes and patterns and especially when it is glowing in the eneving to create a magical atomosphere. “MATSURI ” means festival. The purpose of festivals depending on the region and date.
The most festivals in Japan for worship of a good harvest or ritual of memorial service for spirits of nature or ancestors. For instance, the first festival “Abare- Matsuri “（hold on the 1st and 2nd of July, 2016 ) in Noto peninsula is very unique as it is for getting rid of a plague which spread over the region about 350 years ago. People welcomed a God ” Gozu-tennou （牛頭天王）” from Yasaka shurine in Kyoto then the plague had been gone after that so the festival beggins by showing appreciation for the God..but it is very agressive and thrilling festival as a lot of people are fisherman and also they believe the God likes harsh service like throw God in fire or water..
Anyway, Kiriko is a sub tool for the main tool, ” Mikoshi ( 神輿、御輿 )” which is a kind of vehicle for Shintoistic (Japanese traditional religion =神道) God. People welcome the God from shrine or nature and celebrate them with doing a parade and performances as a part of the Shinto religious services. Generally, Kiriko and Mikoshi are carried by lots of men who are called ”Ujiko (氏子) who believe in the God but there is a unique festival holding in Noto as they carried by brave and young ladies !
There are thousands of festivals is all over Japan though why not, coming an experience in Noto- peninsula as they have over 200 types of Kiriko festival in every Summer. Most of Kiriko is about 4〜5 metres hight but some of them are 15 meters and carried over hundreds men. So basically, you can enjoy different festivals in every weeks in Noto and here are the monthly schedule of the festivals in 2016 which has draws my personal attention 😉
The festival schedule
★the most thrilling and boisterous 『Abare- Matsuri ( あばれ祭り）』
【FEATURE】It is designated an intangible cultural asset ishikawa. The unique points are letting Mikoshi covering sparks of fire or fling it into river and sea. On the first night, they have fire -works and about 40 numbers of Kiriko are making parade in Ushitsu town.
【 DATE 】Fri & Sat. The 1st and 2nd. July. 2016 Start From about 7am until 2 am. The main service starts about 5:30 pm at Sakataru-shrine on the 2nd night.
【 SITE 】Noto-cho, Ushitsu
♦Enjoy the romantic atmosphere『Koijibi-Matsuri （恋路火祭り）』
【FEATURE】 2 Kiriko slopes down a district called “Kannon-zaka” and swim around the sea… for memorize a sad love story of this region. When a trick of fireworks ” Aburamono” fire on, you’ll see the sea changes red color and a little island” Benten jima” in the middle of the sea turns magical atmosphere…
【DATE 】Sun. 17th. July. 2016
start from about 8 pm until 11 pm
【SITE 】Noto- cho , Koiji （恋路海岸）
♦Attract of giant Kiriko『Issaki hou tou -Matsuri ( 石崎奉燈祭）』
【FEATURE】6 of giants Kiriko are here. Over 10 meters hight and carried by hundreds of men moving and dancing around Issaki town, Nanao city.
【DATE 】 Sat. 6th. Aug. 2016
The highlight- giant Kiriko parade starts at 3 pm until midnight.
【SITE】Issaki-cho, Nanao city (七尾市石崎町)
★ Make your wish! specially decolated Kiriko 『 houdatsu Tanabata Kiriko festival (宝立七夕キリコまつり) 』
【FEATURE】The biggest festival in Suzu city (珠洲市). Normally we celebrate Tanabata -Matsuri (七夕祭り) on 7th July every year for making a wish though this Kiriko is a month late celebration. The decoration of the Kiriko is very colourful and beautiful also the highest one is 14m.
【DATE 】7th. Aug. Every year 7th. AUG. Starts from 6pm until 11pm
Fireworks starts 10 pm ~
【SITE】Ukai, Hodatstu cho, Suzu city, 珠洲市宝立町鵜飼（鵜飼川河口）
★Rare to see ladies are carrying ! 『Saikai- Matsuri ( 西海祭り)』
【FEATURE】Traditionally, females are carrying Mikoshi / Kiriko with traditional uniform like red apron and special thong called ”waraji” That looks pretty but also brave too !
【DATE 】14th. Aug. 2016
Start from 6 pm until midnight
【SITE 】Shika-machi, ( 志賀町/ 旧富来町at Saikai shrine
♦ Only one festival you can see Kiriko in the morning 『 Okinami- tairyo Matsuri ( 沖波大漁祭り) 』
【FEATURE】This festival for praying for safety of fishing. It is brave and rare to see 5 Kirikos goes into the sea and do the service. It is perfect for tourists who especially one day trip or not enough schedule for Hokuriku region.
【DATE】Sun. 14th and Mon. 15th. Aug
Only the 2nd day, 15th, you can see the Kiriko goes into the sea. It Starts 9 am until about 11 am.
【SITE】Tatedo- kaisui yoku jyo ( 立戸海水浴場）Okinami, Anamizu- machi ( 鳳珠郡穴水町沖波)
♦The best to see ”Wajima-nuri/ lacquer Kiriko ” at 『Wajimataisai (輪島大祭) 』
【FEATURE】You’ll see a gorgeous ” Wajima lacquer Kiriko at this festival. The festival is held for 4 days in Wajima city to welcome 4 Gods in 4 different shrines ( 奥津比咩神社・重蔵神社・住吉神社・輪島前神社)
Especially at ” The Jyu zou shrine” (重蔵神社) You can see ” Sasa Kiriko (笹キリコ) ” it’s the original style of Noto Kiriko.You should check this festival if you want see very cultural and traditional “only Ishikwa‘s Matsuri ” .
【DATE 】the 22th. 23th. 24th. 25th. Aug.2016
22・23th: from about 5pm〜 / Mikoshi dancing in the sea / Sodegahama （袖ヶ浜）
23 th: from about 11pm / the big torch service / marinetown
24th: from about 10:30 pm/ the big torch sevices / the city hall square
25th: from about 10 pm/ the big torch services / Wajimamae-shrine （輪島前神社）
【Site 】Wajima city centere, 輪島市市街地
♦the most gorgeous” gold-leaf and lacquered Kiriko” and Noh farce 『 Tako-jima no aki matsuri -蛸島（たこじま）の秋祭り』
【FEATURE】It is originated in the time of welcoming the imperial will, so this Kiriko is not very tall but it is considered to be the most gorgeous one in Japan as the Kiriko gorgeously painted by gold-leaf and full of lacquered.. Also beares of Mikoshi wear unique make-up and uniform called ” Dotera ”. You won‘t miss “ The Hayafune Noh farce（早船狂言）」on the 2nd night isdesignated an intangible cultural asset ishikawa.
【DATE 】Sat. 10th and Sun. 11th. Sep .2016
the 2nd night Kiriko lined up and the Noh farce start at about 9pm / Takakurahiko-shrine （高倉彦神社）
【SITE】Takojima- machi, Suzu city / 高倉彦神社
♦The tallest Kiriko in Japan is here『 Jike no Kiriko festival -寺家（じけ）のキリコ祭り』
【FEATURE】 It weights 4t, 14 〜16m height, Kiriko are really overwhelming to look but they are not only huge it is painted very gorgeous too… they are owned by a great family called Jike （寺家）who flourished during Ero-period as the enormous cargo ships “Kitamae bune （北前船）” sailed all over the Japan Sea..
【DATE 】Sat. 17th. Sep.
start in the evening until next day about 10 am
【SITE 】Misaki-cho, Jike, Suzu city （ 珠洲市 三崎町寺家・須須神社）
access and some tips
If you can drive, I would reccomend to travel Noto-peninsula by car/rental car as they have a limited public transport services and also you can freely see around diferrent places in the day time. The water in the sea is pretty clear and beautiful especially in Summer. So you should bring swimming suits and towels too 🙂
It is totally depends on the place and date though for example, if you go to Noto-cho （能登町）area, the cheapest and fastest option is bus. It costs 2,480 yen /one way for adult and takes about 2.5 hours. Going by train such an rural area will be way slower and expensive.
Make sure you’ve booked accommodation and carrying some foods as the most highlights of Kiriko festival start in the evening and finish at the midnight also only 2 express buses a day from Kanazawa to Noto-cho area/ the other Northern Noto-peninsula. Especially in the festival season, lots of local people are very busy to join the festival so some restaurants and ryokan/ hotels might be closing.
It should be fine to do camping somewhere in Noto-peninsula but it might be cold/chilly or rainy in the evening however Kanazawa is pretty humid and hot even in the midnight in summer. If you going by car, there are few free public parking spaces so you can sleep in a car is pretty safe and budget. Bike/Bicycle would be nice too if you are well- equipped.
I would like to update more about details of the transport/ access informations later on. So please wait for a moment or feel free to contact me if you have any questions/ requests to know all about Ishikawa. Hope this site helps you to get to know about Kiriko matsuri in Noto.