Traditional festival sustained by Mikuni Chochin lantern

About the Mikuni festival

Mikuni Town in Fukui Prefecture has flourished with a Kitamae-bune cargo ship culture. The most exciting time of the year for this town is the grand festival of Mikuni, held annually by Mikuni Shrine for three days from 19th to 21st of May. It is one of the biggest festivals in the Hokuriku area originating in the Edo period, in which Yama floats with majestic giant Samurai dolls parade through the town. Mikuni Chochin lantern has been passed down together with this Mikuni festival. It has been loved by the people as a symbol of the port town where traditional festivals live on.

Local tradition succeeded through chochin lantern

The Mikuni festival is invigorated by the parade of Yama floats with majestic Samurai dolls, accompanied by melodies and cheerful chants of the festival. Tens and thousands of people come to visit this festival, which originated in the Edo period. Every year, 6~7 Yama floats patrol the town and are dedicated to Mikuni Shrine, each neighborhood taking turns to present the Yama float. It is a custom passed down from the period in which the town was bustling with the prospering wealthy merchants of Kitamae-bune cargo ships, with each of the 43 neighborhood in the old district taking turns with the Yama float once a few years.

As each neighborhood in Mikuni-minato (an old district in Mikuni) has its own original crest, there are 43 different kinds of chochin lanterns for the festival. Each Yama float bears chochin lanterns with each neighbourhood’s original crest, and the same crest is also painted on the chochin lantern attached to a pole leading the way after the sunset. Also during the festival period, chochin lanterns are hung under the eaves of every house in all neighborhoods to light up the port town. Not a few houses even have a turret made extra for the chochin lantern. Each unique crest on the chochin lanterns hung under the eaves of the atmospheric merchant houses identifies each neighborhood.

The Mikuni festival is known for its daytime bustling, but it is also a pleasure to stroll the nightly port town away from the noisy crowd. You can spend some elegant time with a quaint townscape lit up by chochin lanterns. Mikuni Chochin lantern is another symbolic feature of the festival.

Every household in Mikuni-minato has a chochin lantern inherited from former generations. Mikuni Chochin lantern Itoya has been producing the town’s chochin lantern for generations, and people in the town come to Itoya for repair when their chochin lantern used for dozen years gets damaged. Itoya uses a traditional technique to repair and revive the chochin lantern by fixing the frameworks one by one and renewing the washi paper. Through chochin lantern making, Itoya hopes to maintain Mikuni-minato’s traditional festival and succeed it to the next generation. That is the spirit with which we will keep supporting the Mikuni festival.