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Abare Festival あばれ祭り

Bonfires and violence at this raucous festival featuring kiriko

The Abare Festival, held every summer in the Ushitsu area of the Noto Peninsula, is also known as the “Rampage Festival” or the “Fire and Violence Festival.” The festival, which takes place on the first Friday and Saturday of each July, is a violent and boisterous celebration of the eradication of a contagious disease from the area in the mid-1600s. It is the first festival of the year featuring towering lantern floats called kiriko that are a hallmark of summer events in Noto.

On Friday evening, fireworks signal over 40 kiriko to be carried from Ushitsu Pier to the main city square. Once in the town, they are paraded amidst five flaming pillars and showering sparks. On Saturday night, two mikoshi portable shrines are thrown into the ocean and river before being obliterated and tossed into a bonfire.

The festivities are meant to appease the deity Gozu Tenno, who loves loud, raucous activity. Legend says Gozu Tenno saved the town by sending a giant bee whose sting cured the disease. Today, the Abare Festival continues as a celebration of the culture and ongoing health of Ushitsu.