Beginning over 250 years ago, the Otabi Festival is Komatsu’s biggest event. The star attraction is one you’ll rarely find elsewhere in Japan: the staging of all-girls kabuki plays on festival floats! Yes, while kabuki has historically been limited to men, Komatsu’s deep-rooted kabuki tradition has been defying that norm for centuries.

The floats themselves are different from you’d see at other festivals too. Known as hikiyama, they incorporate elements of kabuki stages, such as the hanamichi walkway. And originally introduced by local merchants as a symbol of wealth and culture during Komatsu’s hey days, they are a work of art in themselves, lavishly decorated in representative crafts of the region such as gold leaf and Kutani paintings. Eight of these floats remain today as they were first constructed, and the spectacular illumination of the gathered floats at night is one of the festival’s highlights.

And it is from two of the eight neighborhoods that each own one of these floats, that young girls of elementary school age are chosen to perform each year.

Over the three festival days held over the second weekend of May, Komatsu City comes alive as performances, food stalls and events cover the city, and temples hold their annual processions. The best time to catch Komatsu at its liveliest!

  • Japan Children’s Kabuki Festivalin Komatsu

    Japan Children’s Kabuki Festival
    in Komatsu

    A festival conveying the charm of Komatsu’s rich kabuki culture, during which children’s kabuki troupes from around the country gather and perform upon the grand stage of Urara Theater. Of course, the headliner act is always Kanjincho, enacted by Komatsu’s very own elementary school children.

  • Ataka Festival

    Ataka Festival

    A marine-centered festival held every September in the port town of Ataka. Instead of the typical festival floats, boats called hikifune (“tugboats”) are paraded around town.

    These tugboats can be traced back to Ataka’s hey days as a port for Kitamae-bune trading ships. Due to the port’s shallow waters, the large Kitamae-bune ships had to be moored offshore. Thus, these small tugboats were used to carry cargo from ship to shore. Thereafter, they were often tugged around town with their sails raised, thus the name “hikifune”. The hikifune parade of Ataka Festival reenacts that very practice.

    Another highlight to catch is the ritual circle dance performed before the Ataka Sumiyoshi Shrine. By young maidens dressed in red kimonos, moving gracefully in the moonlight to the soothing rhythm of folk music!

  • Don Don Festival

    Don Don Festival

    A lively city-wide commemoration of Lord Maeda Toshitsune’s (the Ishikawa region’s former feudal lord) move to Komatsu Castle, which sparked the flourishing of Komatsu as both an industrial and cultural center. “Don Don” symbolizes the boom of taiko drums, one of the many traditional arts that prospered in Komatsu, and serves as a rally for the Komatsu community to unite in protecting inherited traditions while inventing new ones.

    During the festival, food stands, markets and performances by local dance and music troupes liven up the entire city!