Issaki Hōtō Matsuri: Teams of 100 Men Show Off Their Vigor Carrying Immense Lanterns on Wooden Floats

Guide to Japan Travel

The Issaki Hōtō Matsuri is a summer festival held in the city of Nanao on the Noto Peninsula on the first Saturday of August. This is one of the Noto kiriko festivals dating back to the Edo period (1603–1868).

Kiriko are decorated lanterns carried on wooden floats. At the festival in Nanao they are called hōtō and are among the biggest to be borne entirely by human carriers. Three meters wide and towering to a height of 15 meters, the six floats each weigh about two tons. They are paraded through the streets of the city by hundred-strong teams of young men in matching happi coats and shorts to the accompaniment of festival music from boys and girls riding on the floats. The festival reaches its climax in the evening, when the floats assemble and, following a Shintō ceremony, their teams of carriers compete in putting on wild performances. Onlookers cheer as the men of the fishing community dance to show off their vigor.

(Originally published in Japanese. Created in cooperation with Kanazawa Cable Television.)

Ishikawa festival Hokuriku Noto Peninsula