Jike, Misaki-machi, Suzu City was once a thriving port of call for Kitamae ships. Jike Kiriko Festival is an autumn festival of Suzu Shrine, an ancient shrine believed to have been founded before the Common Era, which is well-known for its huge kiriko.
The biggest kiriko is made of the Ishikawa prefectural wood Ate (or Noto Hiba). It is 16.5 meters tall and weighs four tons. Its roof is as large as about 12 tatami mats. Another of its features is its Wajima Urushi lacquer finish. Its design is worth mentioning; the roof and posts are decorated with elaborately carved dragons coated with gold leaf. On the night of the festival, all four kiriko at the shrine stand like dignified towers; the scene is awe-inspiring.
Each year it is a big challenge to get the huge kiriko out into the town. Young people who have moved away and miss their hometown and festival come back to participate in the festivities.
The parade begins when a Shinto ritual is solemnly carried out in the darkness at 9:00 p.m. The portable shrine leads the way, and the kiriko follow it. While the portable shrine visits each residence, huge kiriko wait with the drums and gongs playing. When a conch shell is blown, the procession starts to move again. The parade continues slowly until the next morning.
When the sun rises, the kiriko line up along the coast. The scene of kiriko laden with lanterns on the beach at daybreak, taking on the orange glow of the morning sun, is beautiful beyond description.
After daybreak, the portable shrine and kiriko are carried back to Suzu Shrine, and a fire-walking Shinto ritual is conducted. Rice straw spread on part of the approach to the shrine, covering a distance of about 100 meters, is ignited. Then people carrying two portable shrines run on the straw. As long as embers remain, they run back and forth, and eventually they enter the shrine. After that, the kiriko take turns moving about wildly, as if they were reluctant to accept the fact that the festival is coming to an end.
In Jike, there are four huge kiriko, one of which (Shiozu-ueno) is the biggest in Japan. It is 16.5 meters tall and weighs four tons. Its roof is as large as 12 tatami mats. The kiriko of Ohama is relatively small, but the gorgeous decoration of gold leaf applied to high-relief dragons on its four posts is amazing. Coated with Urushi lacquer, each of the four kiriko has a mirror ceiling behind the roof and four posts decorated with massive dragon carvings coated with gold leaf.
The huge kiriko of Shiozu-ueno is ornate; it has metal fittings everywhere, and railings with decorative knobs. The elaborate decorations are amazing. The four posts are fixed with horizontal bars. Its architrave has meticulously carved clouds. Even the parts that do not stand out have elaborately carved designs. You will never get tired of looking at it.
The drawing created by Mr. Shunsuke Sato (Kanazawa College of Art / Japanese-style painting) is also intriguing. It is unconventional — totally different from a traditional drawing of a bodhisattva. He was inspired by a local legend about Shishi-iwa (Lion Rock) to draw a lion and a descending female deity. It is well worth seeing.
●Gorgeous huge kiriko decorated with gold-leaf coated carvings.
●Beautiful kiriko in the glow of the morning sun.
●Awe-inspiring “Fire-waking Shinto ritual”.
Day: 2nd Saturday of September
Location: Jike area of Misaki-machi, Suzu City
Inquiries: Suzu City Tourism Promotion Section (Tel: 0768-82-7776)