Wajima Taisai Festival - Whimsical Festivities in Twilight

Located in the Okunoto area of the Noto Peninsula in Ishikawa Prefecture, the city of Wajima is famous for Wajima lacquerware and its 1000 Rice Fields (Shiroyone Senmaida), a site designated as a National Cultural Property and a National Site of Scenic Beauty.

Senmaida (1000 rice fields)

The Wajima Taisai Festival is the collective name for the Okitsuhime Shrine Festival held on August 22nd and 23rd, Shigezo Shrine Festival held on August 23rd, Sumiyoshi Shrine Festival held on the 24th, and Wajimasaki Shrine Festival held on the 25th.


As the dusk falls, Kiriko matsuri festival where people carry an enormous wooden shrine lantern, one of the festival items, called Kiriko around the town to provide the lights for mikoshi, a portable shrine, is held at all shrine festivals except for Okituhime Jinja taisai.
Magnificent Kiriko lanterns that are decorated with elaborate carvings, gold leaves, and urushi lacquer gather at shrines at the fall of twilight, go through the ceremony, and depart along with mikoshi.


At the Kiriko festival, taimatsu torch rituals are carried out where otogumi consists of men in climacteric years, carry the Mikoshi in the light from the torch while receiving the sparks from taimatsu torches, and at the end of the festival, the Gohei, decorative strips of white paper used in Shinto ritual, are attached to three strips of bamboo trees on top of taimatsu torch, and once the torch falls down, young men rush into the flames to get the sacred paper strips.

At the Sumiyoshi festival, where the Kiriko lanterns make their pilgrimage journey along the river are entirely decorated with Wajima Lacquer that parades, once the pilgrims arrive the delta with Otabisho, where serves as the temporary resting place for the god traveling on the Mikoshi, Goshinji daiko, a Shinto ritualistic drum performance is offered.


Omikoshi Jusui Shinji, Shinto ceremony with Mikoshi in the water, of Okituhime Shrine is based on the myth that female deity enshrined in Hegura-jima, turns herself into a dragon to go cross the sea, guided by taimatsu pine torches, to court with male deities of Wajima and give birth to the guardian deities at the Okariya, a temporary resting place provided for the traveling deities. At this ceremony, young men dressed in colorful waistcloths paint their faces red, and march and dance into the water with the Mikoshi as twilight approaches.

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