When visiting rural areas of Japan, getting a feel for the local lifestyles may prove more challenging than in their bustling city counterparts. But the annual festivals in these rural areas are an excellent way to eat, drink, and play like the locals. In Ishikawa prefecture these festivals often boast hundreds of years of tradition, assuring an authentic and unforgettable Japanese experience.
Every year on the first weekend in July, way up the Ishikawa Peninsula in an area known as the Noto, the Japanese appeal to the Shinto god of sea and storms, Susanoo no Mikoto, through pure rage and destruction. The festival lasts for two days. The first day is dedicated to fire. Enormous lanterns, called kiriko, are hoisted upon sake addled festivarians. The lanterns are large enough to carry taiko drummers, flutists, and children. The lanterns, due to their extreme weight, can only be carried a few meters at a time, and this is done so amongst huge pillars of spitting fire. On the second night, a team of men comes bearing an indestructible mikoshi; a portable Shinto shrine. The team of men spends hours attempting to destroy the mikoshi by bashing it with sticks, dropping it from bridges into ocean canals, and rolling it through fire. The spectacle is one of determined chaos that reaches pitches of barbaric euphoria.
If Lord Maeda Toshiie’s entry into Kanazawa in the 16th century was anything like today’s Hyakumangoku Festival, it was opulent; perhaps the most impressive parade imaginable.
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