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Ishikawa is a great place to experience different Japanese festivals (matsuri).

We've categorised Ishikawa's festivals by location and by season below. Click on the links to make sure you don't miss out!

Festivals by locationEdit

Northern Ishikawa Edit

January - March Maimon Food Festival (Oyster Festival), Anamizu Town Anamizu is famous for its oysters, and what better way to enjoy the winter oysters than at Anamizu’s annual winter oyster festival? Entrance is free, a bag of raw oysters (or other seafood) for grilling is 1000 yen. If you don't like seafood, there are plenty of other delicious foods to try: zenzai, handmade soba and udon, Noto Wine, and more!

Late March Noto-yukiwariso Flower Festival, Monzen

May 2-3 Tomobata (Mifune) Festival, Ogi, Noto This spring festival is dedicated to Mifune Shrine. 10 boats are decorated with coloured streamers and are rowed around Ogi Bay. A huge 20m tall streamer, known as a Tomobata, is erected on the catamaran boat.

May 3-5 Seihakusai Dekayama (Floats) Festival, Nanao This is one of the biggest festivals in the Noto. Dekayama are huge festival floats that are carried through the streets of Nanao. The Dekayama are around 12 metres high and weigh almost 20 tons. Visitors can join in pulling the ropes to move and change the direction of the huge creaking Dekayama.

June 7-8 Wajima Citizen Festival This is a yearly event in Marine Town in Wajima and near Sojiji Temple in Monzen. It is held mainly for the elementary school children and features parade floats, marching band, and lion dances by the students and other members of the community. There is also a fire works show that runs for 20 minutes and launches upward of 16,000 fireworks in that time.

July 1st Fri & Sat night Abare (Fire and Violence) Festival, Ushitsu, Noto The ‘Fire and Violence Festival’ is perhaps the wildest festival in Ishikawa. A huge wooden log-piller is set on fire at Ushitsu pier. After parading giant Kiriko festival lanterns through the town streets, 40 giant Kiriko lanterns are gathered at the pier to the sound of taiko drums and bells. People run and dance around the fire. Beware of the flying sparks! The next day 2 portable shrines are carried through the streets and then thrown violently into the sea. After this they are taken to the bonfire where they are smashed and burnt. known for its wild atmosphere. On the day of the Festival, about40 tall (some are as high as 7 m) sacred lanterns are paraded through the streets along with 2 omikoshi portable shrines.

Late July Nafune Festival, Wajima The Gojinjo Drum Performance is a traditional folk entertainment in the Nafune area. It is said that the drummers wearing ghost masks and seaweed hair fought off the armies of Uesugi Kenshin who tried to attack the area in 1577. The performance takes place almost every day from July to October in front of the old Wajima train station.

August 1st Ishikzaki-Hoto Lantern Festival, Nanao City One of the attractions of this Festival is the giant Kiriko lantern which is 15 m high and 3 m wide and weighs almost 2 tons. It takes 100 people to carry it and parade it through the streets. In the evening the kiriko lanterns are illuminated and fireworks are set off.

August 23-25 Wajima Taisai, Wajima 10m tall Kiriko lanterns are carried through the town streets along with portable shrines called 'omikoshi'. At the festival climaxes, a special bonfire by the sea is lit. Men wearing loincloths scramble to catch Gohei (decorative strips of white paper used in Shinto rituals) that fall from the top. It is believed that if you catch a Gohei strips you will achieve success. Wajima's festival kirikos are especially distinctive because of their famous Wajima lacquer coatings.

September 20 Okumakabuto Festival, Nakajima, Nanao This festival is dedicated to Kuma Kabuto shrine. The main attraction of the festival is towering Wakubata (a long banner of crimson wool attached to a tall pole on a wooden frame) that are paraded through the town. On the festival day, Mikoshi (portable shrines) and banners from 19 other shrines in the area converge on the Kuma Kabuto Shrine, accompanied by the sound of Japanese bells and drums.

Mid-November Bakko Festival, Naka-Noto Town

December 31 "Yuku-toshi Kuru-toshi" Countdown, Wajima A countdown to the New Year takes place at Sojiji Temple in Wajima.

Central Ishikawa Edit

Early January Kagatobi Ladder Climbing Festival, Kanazawa In this Beginning of the Year Ceremony (出初め式) many firemen from all around Ishikawa gather at Kanazawa Castle to demonstrate ladder acrobatics and tricks with water hoses.

Early April Asanogawa River Festival, Kanazawa Join the crowds on the Asano River banks on the 2nd Saturday and Sunday of April to stroll among the blossoming cherry trees and watch traditional displays on an elevated stage built over the river. Perfomances include singing and dancing by local geisha and maiko from the Higashi Chaya-Machi district.

June 1st Sat & Sun Hyakumangoku Parade Festival, Kanazawa This is the largest festival in Ishikawa. Most of the downtown area is shut to allow for massive parades and special events occur all round the city. The first night involves a giant paper lantern floating ceremony (Kaga Yuzen Toro-Nagashi) by all the elementary students in Kanazawa at the Asano River. The second day hosts the 4 hour long parade, complete with samurai warriors, taiko drummers, school brass bands, dancers, and company advertisements. Every year some lucky JETs get to dress up in traditional samurai costume or as Ladyship Maeda's attendants and take part in the parade. The rest of the festival is dedicated to yosakoi dancing, traditional dance, and other performance art. Kanazawa Castle hosts a Takigi Noh (traditional Noh theatre) performance on the Sunday night of the festival.

Mid-August Yosakoi Soran Hyakuman Goku Tournament, Kanazawa Hyakumangoku Road is closed from Katamachi all the way to Omicho Market for a very impressive two-day yosakoi dance competition.

October Kanazawa Castle & Kenrokuen Garden Illumination, Kanazawa Both Kanazawa Castle Park and Kenrokuen Garden are lit up during the following periods, when you can see the fantastic views and take advantage of the great photo opportunities.

Southern Ishikawa Edit

Early February Yukidaruma (Snowman) Festival, Shiramine, Hakusan City This is a really cute one-day Festival where all the residents of Shiramine make snowmen in various sizes and shapes (about 3000 snowmen in total). In the evening the snowmen are illuminated, making for some great photo opportunities.

February 10 Takewari Bamboo Splitting Festival, Daishoji, Kaga Large crowds gather to watch local young men brave the cold at the Sugo Isobe Jinja Shrine, and smash and burn over 200 bamboo poles. The ritual is believed to drive away disease and encourage a bountiful harvest. Visitors try to get a small piece of splintered bamboo to take home with them for good luck.

2nd weekend in April, Daishoji Hanami (Cherry Blossom) Matsuri, Daishoji, Kaga As well as relaxing under some beautiful cherry blossoms, this small-town celebration offers portable shrine processions, Lion’s Head dances, boat trips down Daishoji river and all the usual festival stalls and food.

May 3-5 Kutani Chawan Festival, Terai, Nomi This Festival has been held every year since the Meiji Period as a memorial to the founders of Kutaniyaki: Kutani Shoza and Dokai Saida. Visitors come from all over Japan to take advantage of the bargain kutaniyaki porcelain prices, and great deals on items from Y100 – Y1,000,000.

Mid-May Otabi Festival, Komatsu Come to Komatsu to watch extremely cute child Kabuki theatre performances. 8 Hikiyama (portable shrines) are transported around Komatsu and child actors perform Kabuki theatre on top. It’s especially memorable when all the 8 Hikiyama come together and are illuminated for a grand evening performance.

1st weekend in June Shobuyu Iris Petal Bath Festival, Yamashiro, Kaga More than 200 young people carry a portable shrine stuffed with irises through the streets of Yamashiro. In the past, the scent of the irises were believed to ward off evil. Visitors can also enjoy hot spring baths scented with irises.

Late July / Early August Fireworks Festival, Katayamazu, Kaga An impressive fireworks display takes place every night over Lake Shibayamagata. The fireworks are easily visible from the surrounding areas.

Early August Yamashiro Daidengaku Festival, Yamashiro Hot Spring, Kaga 'Daidengaku' performances at the festival in this onsen town combine the mysterious and ancient art of 'Dengaku' with local performing arts and music. Energetic dancers wearing eccentric costumes and move to the mysterious sound of a Japanese flute by the light of a bonfire. Visitors can enjoy bustling streets lined with stalls and events nearby.

August 27th Guzuyaki Festival, Iburihashi, Kaga In this lively small-town festival, the people of Iburihashi (including some lucky JETs) shoulder two large (5-6m long) fish-shaped floats made of bamboo frames topped with plaited straw mats and bamboo and make their way through town. Upon reaching the station, the fish "fight" to the cheers of the crowd. The losing float is burned in front of the local shrine to ward off evil spirits. Children are believed to gain luck by standing in the mouth of the winning float.

1st September Hassaku Festival, Yamashiro-onsen, Kaga A dancer in the costume of a giant lion parades around streets. In the main hall of the Hattori shrine the 'Urayasu no Mai' dance is performed to wish for peace, a rich harvest and to express gratitude to the Gods.

Early to Mid-September Jumangoku Festival, Daishoji, Kaga A smaller scale celebration similar to nearby Kanazawa's Hakumangoku Matsuri, this festival celebrates the traditions and history of the former Daishoji ruling family. The name Jumangoku refers to rice production. Juman means "10,000", and the koku is a measurement of rice production. During this festival an extremely large piece of Kutani pottery is paraded through town.

September 22, 23 Koikoi Festival, Yamanaka Hot Springs, Kaga Thousands of people in festival costumes dance the Yamanaka-bushi-wa-odori folk dance, to the sound of shamisen, flutes and drums from 8 pm to 9:30 pm on the 22nd, and from 8 pm to 9 pm on the 23rd. A parade of Oh-shishi Mikoshi, a portable shrine shaped like a huge lion head carried by town's people, lacquerware traders and Geisha goes through the town from around 12 noon to 3:30 pm on the 23rd.

Early October Horai Festival, Tsurugi, Hakusan Several handmade floats, 5 meters in height, depicting famous characters are carried around the town (along with much shouting and drinking!). This festival runs all day through until dark and is well worth a visit for its lively, party-like atmosphere.

Mid-October Dondon Festival, Komatsu A modern festival, not affiliated with any shrine or spiritual practice. Rather, it's a chance for garage bands, theatre groups and traditional dance ensembles to take over the area around the Komatsu train station for a day. The festival also includes a market, lots of festival food and a drink tent.

November 2-4 Kutani Porcelain Village Fair, Nomi City

Festivals By SeasonEdit

Spring Edit

Late March Noto-yukiwariso Flower Festival, Monzen, Wajima

2nd weekend in April, Daishoji Hanami (Cherry Blossom) Matsuri, Daishoji, Kaga As well as relaxing under some beautiful cherry blossoms, this small-town celebration offers portable shrine processions, Lion’s Head dances, boat trips down Daishoji river and all the usual festival stalls and food.

Early April Asanogawa River Festival, Kanazawa Join the crowds on the Asano River banks on the 2nd Saturday and Sunday of April to stroll among the blossoming cherry trees and watch traditional displays on an elevated stage built over the river. Perfomances include singing and dancing by local geisha and maiko from the Higashi Chaya-Machi district.

May 2-3 Tomobata (Mifune) Festival, Ogi, Noto This spring festival is dedicated to Mifune Shrine. 10 boats are decorated with coloured streamers and are rowed around Ogi Bay. A huge 20m tall streamer, known as a Tomobata, is erected on the catamaran boat.

May 3-5 Kutani Chawan Festival, Terai, Nomi This Festival has been held every year since the Meiji Period as a memorial to the founders of Kutaniyaki: Kutani Shoza and Dokai Saida. Visitors come from all over Japan to take advantage of the bargain kutaniyaki porcelain prices, and great deals on items from Y100 – Y1,000,000.

May 3-5 Seihakusai Dekayama (Floats) Festival, Nanao This is one of the biggest festivals in the Noto. Dekayama are huge festival floats that are carried through the streets of Nanao. The Dekayama are around 12 metres high and weigh almost 20 tons. Visitors can join in pulling the ropes to move and change the direction of the huge creaking Dekayama.

Mid-May Otabi Festival, Komatsu Come to Komatsu to watch extremely cute child Kabuki theatre performances. 8 Hikiyama (portable shrines) are transported around Komatsu and child actors perform Kabuki theatre on top. It’s especially memorable when all the 8 Hikiyama come together and are illuminated for a grand evening performance.

Summer Edit

1st weekend in June Shobuyu Iris Petal Bath Festival, Yamashiro, Kaga More than 200 young people carry a portable shrine stuffed with irises through the streets of Yamashiro. In the past, the scent of the irises were believed to ward off evil. Visitors can also enjoy hot spring baths scented with irises.

June 1st Sat & Sun Hyakumangoku Parade Festival, Kanazawa This is the largest festival in Ishikawa. Most of the downtown area is shut to allow for massive parades and special events occur all round the city. The first night involves a giant paper lantern floating ceremony (Kaga Yuzen Toro-Nagashi) by all the elementary students in Kanazawa at the Asano River. The second day hosts the 4 hour long parade, complete with samurai warriors, taiko drummers, school brass bands, dancers, and company advertisements. Every year some lucky JETs get to dress up in traditional samurai costume or as Ladyship Maeda's attendants and take part in the parade. The rest of the festival is dedicated to yosakoi dancing, traditional dance, and other performance art. Kanazawa Castle hosts a Takigi Noh (traditional Noh theatre) performance on the Sunday night of the festival.

July 1st Fri & Sat night Abare (Fire and Violence) Festival, Ushitsu, Noto The ‘Fire and Violence Festival’ is perhaps the wildest festival in Ishikawa. A huge wooden log-piller is set on fire at Ushitsu pier. After parading giant Kiriko festival lanterns through the town streets, 40 giant Kiriko lanterns are gathered at the pier to the sound of taiko drums and bells. People run and dance around the fire. Beware of the flying sparks! The next day 2 portable shrines are carried through the streets and then thrown violently into the sea. After this they are taken to the bonfire where they are smashed and burnt. known for its wild atmosphere. On the day of the Festival, about40 tall (some are as high as 7 m) sacred lanterns are paraded through the streets along with 2 omikoshi portable shrines.

Late July Nafune Festival, Wajima The Gojinjo Drum Performance is a traditional folk entertainment in the Nafune area. It is said that the drummers wearing ghost masks and seaweed hair fought off the armies of Uesugi Kenshin who tried to attack the area in 1577. The performance takes place almost every day from July to October in front of the old Wajima train station.

Late July / Early August Fireworks Festival, Katayamazu, Kaga An impressive fireworks display takes place every night over Lake Shibayamagata. The fireworks are easily visible from the surrounding areas.

August 1st Saturday Ishikzaki-Hoto Lantern Festival, Nanao City One of the attractions of this Festival is the giant Kiriko lantern which is 15 m high and 3 m wide and weighs almost 2 tons. It takes 100 people to carry it and parade it through the streets. In the evening the kiriko lanterns are illuminated and fireworks are set off.

Early August Yamashiro Daidengaku Festival, Yamashiro Hot Spring, Kaga 'Daidengaku' performances at the festival in this onsen town combine the mysterious and ancient art of 'Dengaku' with local performing arts and music. Energetic dancers wearing eccentric costumes and move to the mysterious sound of a Japanese flute by the light of a bonfire. Visitors can enjoy bustling streets lined with stalls and events nearby.

Mid-August Yosakoi Soran Hyakuman Goku Tournament, Kanazawa Hyakumangoku Road is closed from Katamachi all the way to Omicho Market for a very impressive two-day yosakoi dance competition.

August 23-25 Wajima Taisai, Wajima 10m tall Kiriko lanterns are carried through the town streets along with portable shrines called 'omikoshi'. At the festival climaxes, a special bonfire by the sea is lit. Men wearing loincloths scramble to catch Gohei (decorative strips of white paper used in Shinto rituals) that fall from the top. It is believed that if you catch a Gohei strips you will achieve success. Wajima's festival kirikos are especially distinctive because of their famous Wajima lacquer coatings.

August 27th Guzuyaki Festival, Iburihashi, Kaga In this lively small-town festival, the people of Iburihashi (including some lucky JETs) shoulder two large (5-6m long) fish-shaped floats made of bamboo frames topped with plaited straw mats and bamboo and make their way through town. Upon reaching the station, the fish "fight" to the cheers of the crowd. The losing float is burned in front of the local shrine to ward off evil spirits. Children are believed to gain luck by standing in the mouth of the winning float.

Autumn Edit

1st September Hassaku Festival, Yamashiro-onsen, Kaga A dancer in the costume of a giant lion parades around streets. In the main hall of the Hattori shrine the 'Urayasu no Mai' dance is performed to wish for peace, a rich harvest and to express gratitude to the Gods.

Early to Mid-September Jumangoku Festival, Daishoji, Kaga A smaller scale celebration similar to nearby Kanazawa's Hakumangoku Matsuri, this festival celebrates the traditions and history of the former Daishoji ruling family. The name Jumangoku refers to rice production. Juman means "10,000", and the koku is a measurement of rice production. During this festival an extremely large piece of Kutani pottery is paraded through town.

September 20 Okumakabuto Festival, Nakajima, Nanao This festival is dedicated to Kuma Kabuto shrine. The main attraction of the festival is towering Wakubata (a long banner of crimson wool attached to a tall pole on a wooden frame) that are paraded through the town. On the festival day, Mikoshi (portable shrines) and banners from 19 other shrines in the area converge on the Kuma Kabuto Shrine, accompanied by the sound of Japanese bells and drums.

September 22, 23 Koikoi Festival, Yamanaka Hot Springs, Kaga Thousands of people in festival costumes dance the Yamanaka-bushi-wa-odori folk dance, to the sound of shamisen, flutes and drums from 8 pm to 9:30 pm on the 22nd, and from 8 pm to 9 pm on the 23rd. A parade of Oh-shishi Mikoshi, a portable shrine shaped like a huge lion head carried by town's people, lacquerware traders and Geisha goes through the town from around 12 noon to 3:30 pm on the 23rd.

October Kanazawa Castle & Kenrokuen Garden Illumination, Kanazawa Both Kanazawa Castle Park and Kenrokuen Garden are lit up during the following periods, when you can see the fantastic views and take advantage of the great photo opportunities.

Early October Horai Festival, Tsurugi, Hakusan Several handmade floats, 5 meters in height, depicting famous characters are carried around the town (along with much shouting and drinking!). This festival runs all day through until dark and is well worth a visit for its lively, party-like atmosphere.

Mid-October Dondon Festival, Komatsu A modern festival, not affiliated with any shrine or spiritual practice. Rather, it's a chance for garage bands, theatre groups and traditional dance ensembles to take over the area around the Komatsu train station for a day. The festival also includes a market, lots of festival food and a drink tent.

Mid-November Bakko Festival, Naka-Noto Town

Winter Edit

December 31 "Yuku-toshi Kuru-toshi" Countdown, Wajima A countdown to the New Year takes place at Sojiji Temple in Wajima.

Early January Kagatobi Ladder Climbing Festival, Kanazawa In this Beginning of the Year Ceremony (出初め式) many firemen from all around Ishikawa gather at Kanazawa Castle to demonstrate ladder acrobatics and tricks with water hoses.

January - March Maimon Food Festival (Oyster Festival), Anamizu Town Anamizu is famous for its oysters, and what better way to enjoy the winter oysters than at Anamizu’s annual winter oyster festival? Entrance is free, a bag of raw oysters (or other seafood) for grilling is 1000 yen. If you don't like seafood, there are plenty of other delicious foods to try: zenzai, handmade soba and udon, Noto Wine, and more!

Early February Yukidaruma (Snowman) Festival, Shiramine, Hakusan This is a really cute one-day festival where all the residents of Shiramine make snowmen in various sizes and shapes (about 3000 snowmen in total). In the evening the snowmen are illuminated, making for some great photo opportunities.

February 10 Takewari Bamboo Splitting Festival, Daishoji, Kaga Large crowds gather to watch local young men brave the cold at the Sugo Isobe Jinja Shrine, and smash and burn over 200 bamboo poles. The ritual is believed to drive away disease and encourage a bountiful harvest. Visitors try to get a small piece of splintered bamboo to take home with them for good luck.

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