The Port of Nanao is a large fishing village on Nanao Bay. It was for a time the capital of Noto Province, but the Noto Castle is in ruins today, and little of its history is known. The city has few tourist attractions, but visitors can find some acceptable restaurants and shops.
The Port of Nanao’s biggest attraction is the Seihakusai Festival that takes place every year in early May. The festival is a great example of how Japan preserves its spiritual Shinto and cultural traditions. Glittering carts recall the glories of the feudal period when the city flourished. Held at the Otokonushi Shrine, thirty-ton wooden floats are pulled around the city. These Hikiyama (“Towed Mountains”) reach 12 meters tall and have 2-meter unpivoted wheels. Shaped like open fans without nails, dolls are placed on pine boughs in the carts padded with straw and shrouded with curtains. Offerings of rice, salt, fruit, sake, fish, and meat are wrapped in green oak leaves. As the carts are hauled through the streets, participants celebrate with noisy excited chants. At the end of the festival, they have a big Urayama-Gyoji party.