Aug 22nd
Aug 25th
Kiriko lanterns are paraded through the local neighborhood

Wajima Grand Festival [Cancelled]

Parading mikoshi and kiriko around town till midnight

By Alena Eckelmann    - 2 min read
When: Aug 22nd - Aug 25th 2021, 12:00am - 11:59pm
Notice: While this event is confirmed, outdoor events can be subject to sudden cancellation or postponement due to weather or unforeseen circumstances. Our listings are only updated periodically, so please check the official site closer to any event if you wish to attend.

Cancelled event

It has been reported this event is cancelled for the current year — please check the official site for more details.

Last updated: Aug 12, 2020

The Wajima Grand Festivals are the highlight of late summer in the Wajima area of the Noto Peninsula. The festive activities center around some local shrines. One of them is the Juzo Shrine in the Kawai-machi area of Wajima. The festivals are kicked off by the Okutsuhime Shrine Festival. These festivals take place, one after another, from August 22 to 25 each year.

The Juzo Shrine is the center of the next festival. It involves a parade of a mikoshi and of 30 kiriko around the local area from 8 pm until midnight. It is said that this parade is in remembrance of a journey done by a Shinto Deity. The kiriko are carried back and forth for the whole evening, accompanied by the shouting of washoi and taiko drumming and the sounds of the Japanese flute.

The climax of this festival is a “race” of mikoshi that leads to one of three taimatsu. Taimatsu are ten meter high torches, which are set alight at the base and the flame is travelling up the stem of the torch to its top. The top of the torch is shaped like a hat. There are gohei, sacred white paper stripes, attached. Gohei are a typical sight at shrines and at Shinto festivals in Japan; they mark sacred space.

The mikoshi is carried around the taimatsu. Then the carriers of the mikoshi start to compete with each other to try and catch one of these gohei after the flames have brought down the top of the torch. Those who are lucky to catch a gohei are said to receive good fortune. There is a stiff competition to catch these lucky charms.

Festivals at the Sumiyoshi Shrine in Fugeshi-machi and at the Wajimasaki Shrine in Wajimazaki-machi conclude the festive days. If you enjoy Japanese summer festivals, then the Wajima Grand Festivals are not to be missed. Since they take place in the evenings, you can spend the day checking out some of Wajima's attractions, such as the Wajima Morning Market and Wajima lacquerware.

Alena Eckelmann

Alena Eckelmann @alena.eckelmann

Born East of the Wall and South of Berlin, I am celebrating my 15th year anniversary in Japan in May 2020, the country that I call home now. I lived in crazy Tokyo for 6 years and since 2011 I call the beautiful Kii Peninsula (Kumano, Koyasan and Yoshinoyama) my home.I have been a JapanTravel Partner since the conception of the platform in 2011! In Tokyo I worked in market research at AIP Corporation and in business education at JMEC. For the last 10 years I have been a guide for foreign visitors at Venture Japan, on top of being a Freelance Writer and a Business Researcher.  Apart from work, I trained at the Yoshinkan Aikido Dojo and at the Oedo Sukeroku Taiko Dojo for several years each, and I ran the 1st Tokyo Marathon and enjoyed cycling around Tokyo. During the last 10 years I am working with local authorities to improve their hospitality to foreign visitors and I have participated in many monitors as a media representative.  My current interest is in Japanese nature and spirituality. I love spending time in the forest and mountains, and I love visiting temples and shrines.   I am a licensed guide for the Kumano Kodo pilgrimage trails  and for Koyasan, the Buddhist monastery, in addition to being a practitioner and licensed guide for Forest Therapy (Shinrin Therapy).  As a guide for walking tours, I have taken visitors to walk the Kumano Kodo trails, the Nakasendo trail and the Shikoku 88 temple pilgrimage trail.  Being grounded during this COVID-19 crisis, I enjoy gardening, baking bread in my new Japanese bread-maker and going for walks around 'my' village.  Take care, keep well, stay safe! 

Join the discussion

Elizabeth S 5 months ago
Wajima knows how to throw a festival.

Nice work capturing the atmosphere in your night photography.