The Noto is home to fabulous natural scenery, excellent gelato, and some of the most interesting festivals in Ishikawa. Last year, I had the opportunity to attend the Okuma Kabuto Matsuri (お熊甲祭り), a festival with “national intangible cultural asset” status. Held in Nakajima-machi, Nanao-shi, it’s also known as the 二十日祭り (hatsuka matsuri) because it’s held every year on 20 September.
Local participants carry mikoshi and wakubata, 20-meter-high banners affixed to wooden structures representing nineteen local shrines, in a parade to Kuma Kabuto Arakashihiko Shrine (久麻加夫都阿良加志比古神社) and then to Kamohara (加茂原), about 700 meters away. At the shrine, drummers and bell-ringers in colorful costumes lead the way as participants raise and rush the wakubata to the shrine as if to batter it down, then back up and rush the shrine again before carrying the mikoshi and wakubata to Kamohara.
At Kamohara, the wakubata are tipped nearly to the ground in the Shimada Kuzushi (島田くずし) and then raised upright again.
Watching the antics of the festival participants is fun, of course, but be sure to get a good look at the elaborate and beautiful mikoshi, and the stuffed monkey dolls attached to each of the wakubata. Each one is different!
Miyano-mae, Nakajima-machi, Nanao-shi 929-2225
8 am to about 5 pm
Parking is available at Noto Engekidou 能登演劇堂 for free; there are free shuttle buses from here to the festival site from 8 am -5 pm.
Take the Noto Tetsudou (能登鉄道) from Nanao (七尾) or Anamizu (穴水) to Noto-Nakajima (能登中島駅), then walk for 20 min to the Engekidou for shuttle buses or for approximately an hour to the festival site. There are cabs (and Noto JETs) that you can catch at the station.
Leah Zoller is a second-year CIR in Anamizu and the editor of this blog. Since festival season is winding down, she recommends you enjoy this one before winter comes back with a vengeance.