Kiriko Festivals in Noto





Hôryu Tanabata Kiriko Festival

Boisterously dancing, gigantic kiriko lanterns making their way to bonfires in the sea

Gigantic kiriko decorated with streamers and wind-bells

Mitsuke-jima Island (a.k.a. Gunkan-jima or Battleship Island), a symbol of Noto, is in Ukai District, Hôryu Town, Suzu City. Tanabata is the day when local residents start preparing for the Bon Festival; it is also called “Nanoka Bon.” It is said that the kiriko festival there is held to welcome back the ancestral spirits for “Nanoka Bon.”
The kiriko of this district are about 14 meters in height; they are among the biggest in Noto. Approximately 100 people carry the kiriko, which do not have wheels. Streamers are hung from the four corners of the kiriko roof. Decorated with wind-bells, paper lanterns, bonbori-lanterns, bamboo branches, etc., the kiriko look like they are dancing in the cool sea breeze.

A subtle and profound moment in the midst of a dynamic display

After getting together in an open space at the mouth of the Ukai River, six gigantic kiriko and a smaller one measuring about six meters in height start proceeding along the river at around 6:00 pm. They assemble on Mitsuke Coast after 10 pm. Then all the kiriko lights are turned off, to create a pitch-black world. Later, the kiriko are lit up one by one, and the spectators can see the drawings and Chinese characters that decorate them. At the signal of a firework, all of the kiriko dash into the sea towards bonfires that have been lit 20 to 30 m off the coast. Hundreds of kiriko carriers splash and move boisterously around the bonfires.
It is as if sounds of gongs and drums were coming from far away. The kiriko’s lights swinging in the sea create a subtle and profound moment at the height of boisterousness. The spectators that have filled the coast let out a collective sigh at the scene. The moment the kiriko in the sea begin to dance wildly with a burst of energy, fireworks are launched into the sky and set off horizontally. Thus the spectacle of dancing lights unfolds.

A message from Noto residents

Kiriko from each district assemble on the beach and are carried into the sea all together towards bonfires that have been lit off the coast. Ukai’s kiriko in the sea are really dynamic and well worth seeing. When brilliant fireworks are high up in the sky, the festival reaches its climax. It is a breathtaking moment for the spectators. This grand Tanabata festival held at the tip of the peninsula is not to be missed.

Asao Fujihira
Ishikawa Prefecture Special Tour Guide Advisor, Noto Peninsula Tourism Association
Former Director of Kiriko Art Museum

Highlights of the festival

●Gigantic, 14-meter high kiriko with decorations that help people to cool down.
●Kiriko carried by about 100 people dancing wildly.
●Kiriko and fireworks create a spectacle of swinging lights that are reflected in the water.

Day: August 7th
Location: Ukai area of Hôryu Town, Suzu City
Google Map
Inquiries: Suzu City Tourism Promotion Section (0768-82-7776)