Kanazawa, Noto Peninsula, and Other Cities

Discover secrets on the places in and around Kanazawa City,
where are located on the other side of Japan's east coast!
Jump in a Hokuriku-Shinkansen bullet train at JR Tokyo station, 
or fly from Haneda, Fukuoka, Taipei, or more airports, to get!

The festival of flame, delivered from a legend saying that a holy blue hornet saved the lives of many!

More than 300 years ago, a serious epidemic spread through the fisherman's village of Ushitsu. One of the villagers rose up and brought an object of worship from the Gion Shrine in Kyoto in order to pray to extinguish the outbreak. As soon as they started the ceremonies, a blue hornet appeared and stung the people with the disease, one after another. They started to recover immediately; this hornet must have been an avatar of god itself! In order to express their gratitude, they made Kiriko lanterns and had a parade with them. The epidemic was finally stamped out. This is how this festival started!
Here we are, heading to Noto-cho town in the northern peninsula. Ushitsu District is where we're off to watch the spectacular festival of flames tonight!

By SHIZUO / Published: December 15, 2011

Abarei Matsuri Festival
Place: Ushitsu district, Noto-cho Town
Day-1: The first Friday of July (21:00 - 24:00 or later)
Day-2: The first Saturday of July (21:00 - 24:00 or later)
How to get to Ushitsu District: Take the express bus "Kanazawa - Ushitsu/Mawaki Line," get off at "Notomachi Town Office"! Check the timetable!

The quiet fishing port turns into an aggressive showcase with flames!

Noto-cho Town is a town of 20,500 people, located on the eastern coast of the Noto Peninsula.

We left Kanazawa around 5 pm, arrived in Anamizu Town before 6:30, and stopped for dinner at a family restaurant. Although Noto-cho town is located next to Anamizu, we needed to drive another hour to reach Ushitsu district.

There was a huge parking lot set up by the ocean for the festival. We parked our car and went off to the Noto-cho town office! Before we arrived at the office, the fireworks started up at the wharf. Although I saw people enjoying the blasts behind fishing boats, I couldn't see any Kiriko lanterns at all.
Where are they? For those who have not visited the district, such as myself, it would be difficult to navigate through the neighborhood right away. Well, we just need to follow the sounds of the taiko drums! I walked alongside the Kajikawa river. Ushitsu district is a small fisherman's village which has a population of fewer than two thousand. Although it's usually pretty quiet, it really turns into an aggressive showcase on these two days. There they are! The 7-meter-high Kiriko lanterns are standing in a line.

Needless to say, it's one of the famous festivals of the Noto Peninsula!

People who came from Ushitsu but now work in big cities often return home to join the festival every summer. I've heard stories about the festival saying that only women continued the festival during the war. They are proud of it!
Needless to say, it's one of the famous festivals of the Noto Peninsula!
We could see little kids playing Japanese flutes and high school boys beating taiko drums on the lantern floats, while adults were chatting nearby. It was almost 9 pm. Soon, the floats started one by one. I'm not sure that I could see all of Kiriko on the first day of the festival, it's said that they have 40, making it the largest number in the peninsula.
It's made of plain wood, having its embossed Chinese characters on the light. The Ushitsu people are serious about the cleanness of the unvarnished wood. Once it starts to turn dark, they renovate it immediately. Sometimes people come from other districts to get these used wood parts for their own Kiriko floats. Unfortunately, The wood of Ushitsu is well-known for its heaviness. It's said that it was quite hard for people in the other districts to drag it back home.
The Kiriko floats in Ushitsu used to be taller, like the ones used for the Issaki Hoh-Toh Matsuri. However, they got smaller during the Taisho Era, due to expanding utility poles and electric wires.

Let's get into a spark of fire and get smeared with the holy ash!

As I followed the parade heading to the open space just in front of the town office, I could see huge torches covered in flames. Then, I bumped into one of my friends who worked in Kanazawa as an ALT (Assistant Language Teacher).
He was visiting his friends for the festival, and was telling me about how you really can't see anything like this in the States.
It became crowded, and a police officer warned people not to get too close. Local people, dragging their Kiriko lanterns, entered the open space and showed off their performance while onlookers marveled.
The lantern floats were rapidly moving around the torch. There were even many little kids on the floats, never showing a sign of fear! Oh yes, the children of brave fishermen indeed! The sparks of fire came to us and turned into ash on our faces and clothes.
This is only just the first day! On the second day, two portable shrines show up and people throw them into the Kajikawa River under a torch. Sounds crazy, right? Do you know what Abarei Matsuri literally means? It's actually a violent festival!
Iyasaka Hiroba plaza in Ushitsu district [ Map]

Kanazawa Area
Kenroku-En Garden
Seisonkaku Villa
Kanazawa-Jo Castle
Hishi-Yagura/<br>Gojikken-Nagaya/<br>Hashizume-Mon Tsuzuki-Yagura Museum
Chaya-Gai<br>Geisha Districts
Nagamachi Buke-Yashiki-Ato (Previous Samurai District)
21st Century Museum of<br> Contemporary Art, <br>Kanazawa
Nomura-Ke<br>Samurai House
Yuwaku Onsen-Kyo Spa Village
Kanazawa Yuwaku Edo-Mura Museum
Following Matsuo Bashô’s steps in Ishikawa - 1/6 [Introduction]
Following Matsuo Bashô’s steps in Ishikawa - 2/6 [Kanazawa]
Light-Up Bus

Noto Area
Rokkosaki Cape
Mitsukejima Island
Day Trip from Kanazawa #01-Wakura-Onsen Spa Town Nanao City
Day Trip from Kanazawa #01-Ipponsugi Dohri Street Nanao City
Noto-Jima Glass Art Museum
Wajima Asaichi Morning Market
Sohjiji Soin Temple

Kaga Area
Komatsu Experience
Shirayama Hime-Jinja Shrine
Daishoji District
Kaga-Hashidate District
Higashitani Mountainous Area
Following Matsuo Bashô’s steps in Ishikawa - 3/6 [Komatsu City]
Following Matsuo Bashô’s steps in Ishikawa - 4/6 [Natadera Temple]
Following Matsuo Bashô’s steps in Ishikawa - 5/6 [Yamanaka Onsen Town]
Following Matsuo Bashô’s steps in Ishikawa - 6/6 [Daishoji District]
Rosanjin in Yamashiro Onsen Town

Hakusanroku Gibier: Local cuisine utilized wild game from the mountain area
Noto no Shio: Salt extracted from the sea
Jizake: Local sake in Hokuriku region
Buri: Yellowtail
Kaga-ryori:<br>The Traditional Local Food
Kanou-gani & Kobako snow crabs
Kaga Yasai:<br>Traditional Vegetables
Komatsu Udon Noodle

Enyukai: Geisha Party
Geisha Performance with Dinner
Sunday Zazen Session


Arts and Crafts
Yamanaka Shikki: <br>Lacquer Ware made in Yamanaka
Wajima Nuri<br>Lacquerware
Wagasa<br>(Traditional Umbrella)
Kaga Temari<br>(Traditional Handball)
Kaga-Yubinuki<br>(Traditional Thimble)
Aochibu Blue Dot(br)Kutani Artist - Kingyoku Nakata
Kaga Hachiman Okiagari<br> Paper Doll
Kaga Kebari<br>Feather Bait
Stroll Kanazawa in Rental Kimono - 1/2 [Renting kimono]
Stroll Kanazawa in Rental Kimono - 2/2 [Strolling in Kimono]

Dezomeshiki<br>Firefighters' Ceremony
Enyukai: Geisha Party

Setsubun-Sai Festival
Yukidaruma Matsuri<br>

Enyukai: Geisha Party
Sakura Viewing

Seihakusai Festival
Kutani Chawan Matsuri
(Outdoor Market)
Otabi Matsuri Festival
Okaeri Matsuri Festival

Hyakumangoku Matsuri<br>Festival

Enyukai: Geisha Party
Abarei Matsuri Festival
Yamashiro Daidengaku Dance Festival

Issaki Hoh-toh Matsuri Festival
Niwaka Matsuri Festival

Kanou-gani & Kobako snow crabs
Enyukai: Geisha Party

Enyukai: Geisha Party

All Year Round
Wajima Asaichi Morning Market
Sunday Zazen Session
Light-Up Bus

Stroll Kanazawa in Rental Kimono - 1/2 [Renting kimono]
Stroll Kanazawa in Rental Kimono - 2/2 [Strolling in Kimono]
Sunday Zazen-Session


Kanazawa Smoking<br>Etiquette Guide
Special Interview<br>after the Tohoku Earthquake
Tourist Centers
About Ishikawa Prefecture
How to Get to Kanazawa
Access from Tokyo
Access from Osaka
Access from Nagoya
Access from Takayama
How to Get to the Noto Peninsula
About Us