Sep 4, 2013

Let's Get Dangerous: The Festival of Fire and Violence

No, really - Abare Matsuri is called the fire and violence festival. With the name like that, you know it's going to be good.

For a weekend in the town of Noto-cho, people carry kiriko (lanterns) around flaming pillars on Friday, then bash mikoshi (miniature shrines) to smithereens on Saturday. Festival guys and on-lookers alike drink copious amounts of sake, beer, and sho-chu (Japanese vodka) in celebration.

I attended the Friday "fire" portion of the festival. Numbered kiriko were carried through the main street around crackling and collapsing pillars. As the flames grew higher and hotter, the men carrying the kiriko went closer (!!) to the fire. Riding on the lanterns were teenagers playing taiko (drum) and flutes in sync with the men's chanting. The flames were reflected in every window of the town.

Hanabi over the harbor.


A festival stand where I had my first "shaved ice." They differ from snow cones in that the ice doesn't clump at the bottom.

Abare Matsuri



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