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ISHIKAWA

Fire and Violence Festival to kick off series to be held on Noto Peninsula

by Magdalena Osumi

Staff Writer

The kiriko of Noto Peninsula will swing again in the sky of Ushitsu, Ishikawa Prefecture. These few meter-tall, box-shaped Shinto lanterns are paraded around the town every year to the sounds of vigorous chanting and the pulsating rhythm of taiko drums.

Abare Festival, roughly translated as Fire and Violence Festival, will kick off a series of annual Noto Kiriko Festivals, which are held in more than 100 communities across the peninsula from July to September.

The festival, dedicated to Ushitsu’s Yasaka Shrine, is held on the first Friday and Saturday of July and is one of the most dynamic and spectacular festivals in Japan.

This year, around 40 giant wooden kiriko will weave their way through the town on July 4 and 5. After the parade on the first night, two omikoshi (portable wooden shrines) will be smashed and burned to please Susanoo-no-Mikoto — the deity of the sea and storms. The parades begin around 8:30 a.m. on Friday, and the best time to see them will be at their peak when the omikoshi and kiriko are gathered at Ushitsu Minato Iyasaka Square around 9 p.m.

The festival began around 1665 when people on the Noto Peninsula were battling widespread illness. They held a ceremony to pray for help, and it’s believed those who were cured later visited Yasaka Shrine bearing kiriko.

The Abare Festival takes place July 4 and 5 in Ushutsu, Ishikawa Pref. For more information, visit www.town.noto.lg.jp/www/info/detail.jsp?common_id=2754 (in Japanese).