The Ushitu area of Noto Town is known for its fixed-net fishing. The first of many kiriko festivals on the Noto Peninsula, “Abare Festival” of Ushitsu Yasaka Shrine is held on the first Friday and Saturday of July.
According to legend, a contagious disease spread in this area in the Kanbun period (1661 ~ 1673). The deity Gozu Tenno was invited from Kyoto’s Gion Shrine, and a big festival was held. Then, a large bee appeared and stung the sick people, and they were cured. The locals thought that the bee was a messenger of the deity; they made a large kiriko float and paraded in celebration. This is said to be the origin of the “Abare”, or “rampage”, festival. Nowadays, to entertain the deity, who is fond of boisterous activity, people go on a rampage, carrying kiriko and the portable shrine. This is the most dynamic festival of the many kiriko festivals in Noto.
The main feature on the first day of the festival is the kiriko. The guardian shrines of the people of Ushitsu, Hakusan Shrine (for the eastern area) and Sakataru Shrine (for the western area) hold a Shinto ceremony at Yasaka Shrine, and the two portable shrines are paraded in their own areas of the town. Kiriko floats are also carried to Tanagi Beach (on the east side of the port). In the evening, more than 40 kiriko floats line up. At nine o’clock, fireworks are set off as a signal to start the festival. The kiriko floats are carried to Iyasaka Square, in front of the town hall. When they arrive, five 7m-tall pillar torches are lit. The kiriko floats continuously turn around the pillar torches to the sound of drums. The participants and audience become excited at the sight of flames and falling sparks, and the festival reaches its climax.
On the second day, the portable shrines set off for Yasaka Shrine, with kiriko in the front and at the back. With powerful cheers, the carriers throw the portable shrines into the sea and river, and into a fire. The highlight is when they throw the portable shrines into the river from Kajikawa Bridge, roll them in the water and get onto them. After they arrive at the shrine, they throw the portable shrines into the flames of burning torches, and beat them, creating sparks. People who want to take the portable shrines into the shrines and those who don’t want to fight with each other, and the portable shrines are thrown into the fire repeatedly. The festival ends after two o’clock in the morning, when the portable shrines enter the worship hall of the shrine.
A rampage brings us to life. Everything is astonishing in this festival. The portable shrines are first thrown into the sea, then at the road on the way, and splashed with water. Then, they are thrown into the river from a bridge, and rolled in the water. Before entering the shrine, they are thrown into the fire of torches. As indicated by the name, it truly is a festival of abare, or rampage. The kiriko floats also create dynamic scenes. People carry the floats around burning torches in a shower of sparks. The scene of 40 kiriko floats lining up in the square is also impressive. This is a festival of the entire Ushitsu area, and the number of kiriko carriers and musicians exceeds 2,000. Iyasaka Square is full of enthusiasm and excitement. Ushitsu is one of Noto’s major fishing towns. When many ships with many sailors anchored at the port in the olden days, there must have been many contagious diseases in this area. In the hope of stopping the spread of disease for the prosperity of the area, the locals have continued this festival for many years. The attractiveness of Abare Festival is in the explosion of people’s energy. The rampage at the festival shows the unification of the deity and the people.
●Lively dancing of 40 kiriko floats around pillar torches.
●Rampage with throwing of the portable shrines into fire and water.
●Unvarnished kiriko floats made of local hiba wood.
Day: 1st Friday and Saturday of July
Location: Ushitsu Area, Noto Town
Inquiries: Noto Town Furusato Promotion Section (Tel: 0768-62-8532)