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Festivals: The Pulse of Ishikawa


Festivals: The Pulse of Ishikawa

Noto Peninsula

Noto hosts Ishikawa’s most lively festivals. In spring, the thousand-year-old Seihakusai Festival steamrolls through the town of Nanao with three 12-meter-tall floats weighing 20 tons each. Visitors are encouraged to help pull the floats along their route, even as they reach running speed.

Between July and September, the Noto Peninsula hosts roughly 200 festivals featuring kiriko—ornate, towering lanterns carried on the shoulders of townspeople. The specific events of each kiriko festival vary, but they are all passionate expressions of the community’s energy and hard work. One of the most vibrant is the Abare Festival, in which portable shrines that accompany the lanterns are thrown off bridges, dunked into the sea, set alight, and beaten, all to satiate a brutish deity’s love of rowdy behavior. Another famous kiriko festival is the Wajima Taisai Festival, which features a fight for sacred charms.

Many of the kiriko used around the Noto Peninsula are on display at the Wajima Kiriko Art Museum, where visitors can feel the festive spirit all year round.


The largest festival in Kanazawa, the Hyakumangoku Festival, commemorates the beginning of the Kaga domain (present-day Ishikawa and its surroundings) in 1583. The festival includes taiko drumming, Noh performances, lion dances, and a parade of actors in Edo-period garb. It is held on the first weekend of June.

In winter, Kanazawa hosts the acrobatic Kaga-tobi Dezomeshiki Festival, an annual event in which the city’s volunteer fire corps perform feats of agility and strength atop traditional bamboo ladders.

Kaga area

At the Otabi Festival, the biggest festival of the Kaga area, children perform Kabuki plays on portable stages at various locations around the city. The young actors take their roles very seriously, performing with poise, elegance, and dedication. The event features a procession of large, ornate floats adorned with silk.

Fireworks light up Lake Shibayama every night throughout August. Visitors can see the shows from some communal baths at Katayamazu Onsen, the hot-spring village on the lakeshore.