Kōda Himatsuri: A Fiery Summer Festival Celebrates a Divine Rendezvous on Noto Island, Ishikawa Prefecture

Guide to Japan Travel Culture

Festivals featuring decorated lanterns called kiriko are a living tradition on the Noto Peninsula in Ishikawa Prefecture. One of these is the Kōda Fire Festival (Kōda Himatsuri), which is held on the last Saturday of July every summer in Kōda, an island community in the city of Nanao. This event celebrates the annual visit of the male divinity Iyahiko to the island to see his lover, the female divinity Iyahime.

Following a Shintō ceremony at the local shrine dedicated to Iyahime, a procession of seven kiriko, large and small, led by a group carrying a portable shrine makes its way to an open field where there stands a 30-meter-high pillar of pine branches and needles. Hundreds of participants march around the pillar carrying individual pine torches, and when the signal is given, they all throw their lit torches on the base of the pillar. Soon the huge pillar is consumed in flames. When the fire burns the ropes holding the pillar upright, it topples over. It is traditionally believed that if it falls toward the sea, catches of fish will be good; if it falls toward the hills, the harvest will be bountiful.

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

Ishikawa festival Hokuriku Noto Peninsula