The Abare Festival is held on the 1st Friday and Saturday of July each year.
"The Ushitu area of Noto Town is known for its fixed-net fishing. The “Abare Festival” of Ushitsu Yasaka Shrine is the first of many kiriko festivals held annually on the Noto Peninsula. According to legend, a contagious disease spread in this area in the Kanbun period (1661 ~ 1673). The deity Gozu Tenno was invited from Kyoto’s Gion Shrine, and a big festival was held. Then, a large bee appeared and stung the sick people, and they were cured. The locals thought that the bee was a messenger of the deity; they made a large kiriko float and paraded in celebration. This is said to be the origin of the “Abare”, or “rampage”, festival. Nowadays, to entertain the deity, who is fond of boisterous activity, people go on a rampage, carrying kiriko and the portable shrine. This is the most dynamic festival of the many kiriko festivals in Noto.
The main feature on the first day of the festival is the kiriko. The guardian shrines of the people of Ushitsu, Hakusan Shrine (for the eastern area) and Sakataru Shrine (for the western area) hold a Shinto ceremony at Yasaka Shrine, and the two portable shrines are paraded in their own areas of the town. Kiriko floats are also carried to Tanagi Beach (on the east side of the port). In the evening, more than 40 kiriko floats line up. At nine o’clock, fireworks are set off as a signal to start the festival. The kiriko floats are carried to Iyasaka Square, in front of the town hall. When they arrive, five 7 m/23 ft tall pillar torches are lit. The kiriko floats continuously turn around the pillar torches to the sound of drums. The participants and audience become excited at the sight of flames and falling sparks, and the festival reaches its climax.
On the second day, the portable shrines set off for Yasaka Shrine, with kiriko in the front and at the back. With powerful cheers, the carriers throw the portable shrines into the sea and river, and into a fire. The highlight is when they throw the portable shrines into the river from Kajikawa Bridge, roll them in the water and get onto them. After they arrive at the shrine, they throw the portable shrines into the flames of burning torches, and beat them, creating sparks. People who want to take the portable shrines into the shrines and those who don’t want to fight with each other, and the portable shrines are thrown into the fire repeatedly. The festival ends after two o’clock in the morning, when the portable shrines enter the worship hall of the shrine."
Source: "Kiriko Festivals in Noto"
This festival (#23) is one of 29 Noto Kiriko Matsuri ("Float Festivals") held each year in the Noto Peninsula of Ishikawa Prefecture, the most for any area of Japan.
For additional background and historical details click the link to the festival website above.