Notojima (Noto Island) is home to a number of small traditional Japanese towns. The residents all share duties of farming, fishing, and crafting to create very tight-knit communities throughout. Each town has its own community gardens, tended often by the older residents. These can be seen clearly from the roads, as well as larger farms for rice and other crops. Vegetables from the gardens can be enjoyed at restaurants throughout the island. Other customs include chili pepper rice-braided strands which are said to keep bad spirits away from the home. These are woven together in houses by a select few in Notojima who still practice the craft. Spiritually, residents of Notojima are Shinto and Buddhist, having Shinto town shrines with many Buddhist practices mixed throughout. Each home has its own elaborate and beautiful Buddhist altar with a dedicated area to remember the family ancestors.
The different communities of the Notojima Peninsula share a number of festival traditions, each having their own artistic expression as well as other unique festivals throughout the year. The most well-known are the Kiriko festivals which feature huge lanterns paraded by the townspeople and families. Each city has its own set of lanterns as well as other activities unique to the area. For example, Notojima also has the Kôda fire festival, where lanterns are carried through the streets to an open field where a huge bonfire is built using logs and hand-woven ropes. In another holiday on Notojima, large, wooden Buddhist statues are carried throughout the island, visiting areas of the town before returning to the shrine. Each festival is a giant party for the towns and cities, and visitors are welcome to partake and participate. Check out the Kiriko Festival website for a calendar and maps to plan your next visit.
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