The Kanazawa Hyakumangoku Matsuri is held annually in commemorating Kaga-han (roughly present day Ishikawa Pref.)'s founder Lord Maeda Toshiie's entry into Kanazawa castle on June 14th of 1583, establishing a foundation for Kanazawa city. Hyakumangoku parade, the festival's highlight, marches from Kanazawa station to Kanazawa castle park with Lord Maeda Toshiie's reenacted procession as a main attraction, while mixing a colorful variety of performances as well. The streets bustle with crowds of people—residents and visitors—who come out to view the parade.
Other attractions of the festival include Hyakumangoku Odori-nagashi where 10,000 dancers fill the streets at night, the Kanazawa tea ceremony experience of Hyakumangoku Cha-kai held at tea houses around Kenrokuen area, and the Kaga-yuzen Toro-nagashi where lit lanterns are released down Asano river on Friday night.
Around 2 pm on Saturday, the festival's main attraction Hyakumangoku parade makes its ceremonial departure in front of Kanazawa station. The station is acclaimed internationally for its massive gate and unique dome architecture, and the sight of many traditional performances and the procession unfold in front of it is a spectacular view. The streets surrounding the parade overflow with people, so do be mindful.
For the Hyakumangoku parade, many dressed as various classes of people from the well-thrived Edo era march along with the gorgeously costumed stars Lord Maeda Toshiie and his wife Omatsu (each year, well-known public figures take on the roles). Just watching the traditional performances and unique costumes will surely take you back in time to the Edo period.
The parade's final destination is the Kanazawa castle. In celebration of Lord Maeda Toshiie's entry, a whole variety of performances are shown including the traditional "Kaga-tobi" (troop of firefighters from the Edo period who extinguished fires from atop tall ladders). The exciting climax is felt in the gorgeous atmosphere reminiscent of Kanazawa's glory-filled days, as if the castle has re-welcomed its master.
It is Saturday night following the main event of Hyakumangoku parade, but the festival's heat will not cease. From 6 to 8 pm, close to a hundred teams and groups dressed in yukata consisting of local businesses and organizations take it to the streets to fill the city with dancing—the "Hyakumangoku Odori-nagashi." The number of dancers reach an approximate 10,000! Taking spectators into consideration, the event is attended by over 100,000. Witness this glorious night that illuminates the whole city of Kanazawa!
On Saturday and Sunday from 8:30 am to 4 pm (reception is until 3 pm), Hyakumangoku Chakai tea ceremonies are held at Shigure-tei teahouse inside Kanazawa's nationally famous Japanese garden Kenrokuen, where traditional manners of tea (Otemae) are shown. From the medieval era to the Edo period, Kanazawa residents widely practiced tea from warrior class down to the townspeople. Come and experience this tea culture that flourished in Kanazawa, and handed down to us today.
Tickets: ¥1,500 per seat (seats may be filled)
On Friday—the first day of the festival—from 7 to 9 pm (postponed in case of bad weather) Kaga-yuzen Toro-nagashi is held. Lit lanterns are set on water, floating down the city's Asano river from Tenjinbashi bridge to Asanogawa-ohashi bridge. This event is held in hopes of the preservation and prosperity of Kaga-yuzen (Kanazawa's traditional craft method) also known as the "art of water." Over 1,200 lanterns each drawn by Kaga-yuzen artists light up the Asano river, creating a fantasy-like world. Indulge yourself in Kanazawa's early-summer seasonal tale.
Picture provided by Kanazawa City
Please watch from the sidewalk and do not enter the street during the parade.
Accessing Kanazawa city
JR Kanazawa Station (Hokuriku Shinkansen Line, Hokuriku Main Line)
・JR Kanazawa Station
Kinoshimbomachi 2, Kanazawa City, Ishikawa Pref.
*The main event Hyakumangoku parade starts at Kanazawa Station
・Kanazawa castle park
Marunouchi 1-1, Kanazawa City, Ishikawa Pref.
Kenrokucho 1, Kanazawa City, Ishikawa Pref.
*Kanazawa castle and Kenrokuen are adjacent to each other
→Busses (fixed route)
Get on the bus at boarding point 6 or 7 outside Kanazawa Station's Kenrokuen (east) exit. Get off at Kenrokuenshita-kanazawajo stop, and take a brief walk.
→Busses (fixed route)
Get on the bus at boarding point 7 outside Kanazawa Station's Kenrokuen (east) exit. Get off at Asanogawa-ohashi or Hashibacho stop, and take a brief walk.