Guide to Noto’s Satoyama and Satoumi (Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems) by Photos and Movies



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Seihaku Festival
Downtown Nanao City
~10th century
Seihaku Festival float parade: National Important Intangible Folk Cultural Asset (January 1983)
This is the spring festival of Ôtokonushi Shrine, which is located in Sannô-machi. It was so named because food offerings for the gods were placed on green (sei) leaves of Japanese emperor oak (haku). The festival is said to have originated in 982. It is now held from May 3rd to May 5th. The highlight of the festival is the parade of three Dekayama floats (height: 12m, wheel diameter: 2m, weight: 20 tons), which are said to be the tallest in Japan. The present style of the festival started in the early civil war period (15th century), when Governor Hatakeyama of Noto Province presented a float to the shrine, following the example of the Gion Festival in Kyoto. Groups from Kaji-machi, Uo-machi and Fuchu-machi are in charge of all of the processes involved, from assembly of the floats to operation of the parade. The floats are assembled without using nails or brackets to join together the logs, and are covered with straw mats and decorated with colorful pieces of fabric. Their shapes are said to represent Kitamae ships or opened fans. Dolls that play famous Kabuki scenes are placed at the tops of the floats. The huge floats parade along the streets, almost touching the eaves of the houses. The highlight of the parade is the changing of direction of the floats. Wooden pinch bars are inserted under the wheels, and men stand on the bars to lever up the float. Then small wheels are placed under the float wheels to turn the float at a right angle. The floats turn with a huge rumbling sound, and the spectators cheer loudly. This festival has been designated as a National Important Intangible Folk Cultural Asset.
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