Translated by Shinji Takaramura
Noto, Ishikawa - Festivals, Artisan Crafts, And Cultural Experiences
Written by MATCHA-PR
Noto in Ishikawa Prefecture is known for its traditional culture, along with nature and delicious cuisine. Read to learn about how to enrich your travels with the unique farming practice of Aenokoto, wajima-nuri lacquerware, and Kiriko Festival.
This article is about the traditional culture of Noto.
1. Aenokoto - A UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage
Aenokoto, is an extremely rare and ancient agricultural practice of the Oku-Noto region (on the northern peninsula by Sea of Japan). It is designated as an Important Intangible Folk Cultural Property by the Japanese government, and an Intangible Cultural Heritage by UNESCO.
Aenokoto is held twice every year in December and February by the farming families here.
After the rice harvest ends in December, the head of the family will try to awaken the deities in the rice fields. They will invite them to the house and show gratitude for the harvest by offering food and bathing amenities.
It is said that the deities stay in the house until February. The head of the family escorts them back to the rice field afterwards, praying for another good harvest.
Because the deities cannot be seen, the head of the family explains verbally the route from the field to the house and about the food offerings. This is a sacred ritual that has been carried out by the households of the farming villages for generations.
Although Aenokoto is usually performed at family households, it can also be observed at Gourokuan, located in Yanagida Park in Noto-cho. This is a rare opportunity to experience a historical folklore event.
If you visit Noto, join the Aenokoto at Gourokuan. For details, please check the official site.
Address: Ishikawa, Housu-gun, Noto-cho, Kan-machi, Ro 1-1
Official Site: Gourokuan
2. Wajima-nuri - Fine Japanese Lacquerware
Noto is also renowned for traditional craftwork, like Wajima-nuri, lacquerware made in the Wajima area.
Wajima-nuri boasts a history of more than 600 years. The products goes through 124 processes, all conducted by highly-skilled artisans. It uses jinoko, a local soil. The final lacquerware is known for its sturdiness and beautiful colors. It is said that the surface of Wajima-nuri becomes more lustrous with use and its hue also deepens.
To learn more about lacquerware, please read: Japanese Lacquerware - How To Distinguish Quality Items
Tour a Wajima-nuri Studio
At Shioyasu Shikki Kobo, a Wajima-nuri lacquerware shop established in 1858, visitors can participate in a studio tour.
Shioyasu Shikki Kobo
Address: Ishikawa, Wajima, Oise-machi, Hisumi 20
Official Site: Shioyasu Shikki Kobo
3. Kiriko Festival: The Summer Attraction in Noto
The Kiriko Festival is synonymous with summer for Noto residents. The festival, held over 200 times from July to October at different towns and villages, features a procession of kiriko (lantern) along with boisterous shouting from the participants.
Each event varies, as there is a festival ending with its participants walking into the sea, and another festival uses a huge kiriko which requires more than a hundred participants to carry.
Taking Part in the Kiriko Festival
In Noto, visitors can participate in the festival by carrying a small-sized kiriko.
All you need is a happi coat (a traditional coat worn at festivals and celebrations) and a towel wrapped around your head. After the ceremony to pray for safety, raise the kiriko, shout, and parade through the area.
In Noto, visitors will be able to experience these ancient rituals firsthand, which is something unique to the small towns and rural areas in Japan. Be sure to take this chance to appreciate the traditional culture that has been nurtured here.