The Noto Peninsula is known by some as “the Festival Peninsula” due to the many festivals held there — virtually every weekend from spring through fall, there is a festival taking place somewhere in Noto. Perhaps the most famous of Noto’s summer festivals, though, are the Kiriko festivals. Large lantern floats, called “Kiriko,” are used to light the night for mikoshi portable shrines, protecting the spirits during the wild dancing of this unique piece of Noto’s folk culture. Excited shouts, flutes, and taiko drums fill the night with a festive atmosphere. These rather unusual Kiriko festivals are beloved throughout Noto. Different versions are held in each region, with Kiriko lantern floats of varying sizes: some of them are as large as fourteen to sixteen meters tall or more, making the many adults carrying one around quite a sight to see.
The Ushitsu Abare Festival in Noto-cho is the most exciting of the Kiriko festivals held throughout Noto, and serves as a starting signal for these other festivals. These annual events are so special to the people of Noto that even people who grew up in the area and have since moved away make a point of coming back for them each year.Even today, the deeply rooted role the festivals play in people’s lifestyles, as well as the beautiful decorations, are widely praised: in April of 2015, the Kiriko Festivals of Noto were awarded Japan Heritage recognition.