The Nanao Gion Festival is the summer festival of Ôtokonushi Shrine (Sannô Shrine), which is located in the central area of Nanao City. In the Heian period, when Gion worshipping, which expels epidemics and evil was popular, the locals prayed for the deity of Gion Shrine in Kyoto to come, and held a Gion-style festival in this area. This is the origin of the festival. This festival is called “Osuzumi Festival” because the deity of the festival, Gozu Tenno, moved to a temporary shrine on the beach to enjoy cool breezes.
During the festival, families that have experienced a special event such as the birth of their first child or the construction of a new house offer celebratory sake to kiriko lanterns, and kiriko carriers sing celebratory songs in response to the offer of sake.
The climax of the festival takes place at night. After being paraded around the town, kiriko lanterns gather at a temporary shrine on the beach at the signal of fireworks.
After a purification ceremony, lantern floats enter Ôtokonushi Shrine to lead the portable shrine in an order determined by lot. Eleven lantern floats gather in the precincts of the shrine. People playing bamboo flutes, gongs and drums ride on the floats, which are carried by about 50 young men. The lantern floats are carried rapidly around the flaming bonfires, and the spectators are awe-struck by the powerful motions of the carriers. The parade proceeds according to directions of “rush”, “slow” and “stop” given by the leader, who is wearing a red sash and beating a drum. One of the features of this festival is the well-controlled movements of the kiriko floats.
The night advances, and the team of the float that was last in the order chosen by lot sings the celebratory song “Nanao Madara” to close the festival.
●Eleven lantern floats dancing around bonfires.
●Each lantern float is well-controlled by a leader with a red sash.
●Singing of “Nanao Madara” as the finale of the festival.
Day: 2nd Saturday of July
Location: Sannômachi, Nanao City (and eastern city area)
Inquiries: Nanao City Tourism Promotion Section (Tel: 0767-53-8424)