Otabi Festival 2022
Otabi Festival 2022 has ended successfully. We are grateful to everyone for your support, and look forward to celebrating with you all again next year!
With a history of over 250 years, the Otabi Festival is Komatsu’s biggest event. The festivities center around the children’s kabuki plays staged upon traditional hikiyama floats!
What makes these kabuki plays special is that they are performed by an all-girl cast, defying the men-only tradition of kabuki! Elementary school girls are selected from the two performing neighborhoods (rotated among the neighborhoods that own a hikiyama float, more on that below), and go through months of rigorous training.
What Are Hikiyama?
The hikiyama that serve as the stage are also not your usual festival float: they contain a pull-out walkway serving as the hanamichi, an essential part of kabuki stages through which performers enter and exit the stage. These hikiyama were actually introduced to the festival later in 1776 as a way of adding color to the festivities and showcasing the skills of local artisans.
While some hikiyama have been lost to fires over the years, 8 remain in Komatsu today, and it is the 8 neighborhoods owning these hikiyama that take turns staging the kabuki plays of Otabi Festival each year.
The hikiyama are stored in parts and reassembled for the festival every year, but despite their complex structure, not a single nail is used! They have to be fitted together like a jigsaw puzzle, in the right sequence. What’s more, the method of assembly is transmitted through the generations purely through verbal instruction. Hence, it is a community effort requiring the participation of the whole neighborhood, young and old alike.
After the hikiyama are assembled, they are tugged through the streets and gathered in the center of town, for the kabuki plays of the two performing neighborhoods, and the spectacular light-up at night!
When: 14th May (Sat)
Where: Hanamichi Yorossa Square in front of MIYOSSA (map)
Five Hikiyama Festival Floats Line Up
Time: 15:00 – 20:30
Children Kabuki Performances
“Ehon Taikoki: Amagasaki Kankyo” by Yokaichi-machi Neighborhood
Showtimes: 15:30 & 18:00
“Otoko no Hanamichi” by Tera-machi Neighborhood
Showtimes: 16:45 & 19:15
Tickets for the kabuki plays will be distributed at
12pm at Main Tent in front of MIYOSSA.
-Free, on first-come-first-serve basis
-Up to 4 tickets can be reserved per person
-Choice of afternoon (15:30-17:45) or night (18:00-20:15) session
-Tickets are for the entire duration of either session (2 shows per session). If you decide to leave halfway through, please return your ticket to the main tent so someone else can have the seat.
|12:00||Kabuki Play Ticket Reception @ Main Tent|
|12:30||Hikiyama Floats Assembled|
|13:30-14:30||Kojo (kabuki greeting) Contest|
|15:30||Yokaichi-machi Children’s Kabuki Performance|
|16:45||Tera-machi Children’s Kabuki Performance|
|18:00||Yokaichi-machi Children’s Kabuki Performance|
|19:15||Tera-machi Children’s Kabuki Performance|
|20:30||Hikiyama Floats Disperse|
English Tour (Full)
If you’d like a more intimate experience of Otabi Festival, join our guided tour led by English-speaking locals!
Let our friendly locals show you around the streets and shrines involved in the festival and share their appreciation of the exquisite architecture of the hikiyama floats!
When: 14th May, 2PM (~1h tour)
Meeting point: JR Komatsu Station (near taxi stand)
It’s a fun way to learn about the history and background of this 250-year-old festival through the intimate eyes of a local! The tour is free, but spots will be limited due to COVID-19 precautions, so advance sign-up is recommended through google form:
(Sign-ups closed as spots have been filled up. Thank you for the support!)
Calling for Hikiyama Float-Pullers! (Full)
Those who come a little earlier in the day also get to witness the festival preparations, and even join in the lively procession of tugging the hikiyama floats from their respective neighborhoods to the festival square!
Kabuki Live Stream
To allow our distant friends to enjoy the festival with us, we will be airing a LIVE STREAM of the kabuki plays at night!
Watch it here: https://youtu.be/X0GVA8cf55Y
(14 May, 6-8pm Japan Time)
This way, you not only get to witness the children’s kabuki plays, but admire the hikiyama float illuminations too!