Jun 26, 2014

Kanazawa's Biggest Festival: Hyakumangoku

Kanazawa's Hyakumangoku Festival commemorates Lord Maeda Toshiie's entry into Kanazawa Castle in 1583. Hyakumangoku literally means "5,000,000 bushels of rice." It represents Toshiie's immense wealth. While it may have roots in the 16th century, the festival itself began in 1952 to revitalize Japanese pride after World War II.

The festival kicks off with taiko and a parade in front of Kanazawa Station (we arrived by train just in time). Most members of the parade are dressed in period costumes and sporting facial hair they drew on themselves with magic marker.

The parade starts at the station and ends at Kanazawa Castle. As we walked across the city, we inadvertently kept pace with the parade, so we got to see the beginning and the end. We rewarded ourselves after the long walk with a fantastic dinner of Indian food at Spicebox.

While in the Katamachi district, we also saw a long circular procession of people dancing odori. This is a popular dance during Obon festivals. The parade also had the dragon-lions of the shishimae festival. It's as if Hyakumangoku is a one-day celebration of all the Noto festivals combined. Maybe the workers in Kanazawa only have the time for one day off?


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