A Noto Roadtrip
Beaches that stretch out as far as the eye can see, abundant nature, traditional villages, small fishing ports and hidden cabins. The Noto peninsula is the perfect visit for those wishing to get a taste of the best that Japan has to offer. Straddling the prefectures of Ishikawa and Toyama, just to the north of Kanazawa, Noto is best discovered by car in order to seek out all its hidden treasures without being bound to the schedule of local bus routes. (hire cars can be found in Kanazawa and can be reached from Tokyo in just three hours.) The best way of arriving is to take the route 36 which spans the western coast from Hakui.
The oldest wooden lighthouse in Japan
Your first stop should be the wooden lighthouse in Fukura, immaculate white and perched atop a cliff, at 578 years old, its the oldest wooden lighthouse in Japan. In order to reach it, you need to walk just ten minutes outside of the centre of the village in Fukurako. With its little peach coloured door, traditional wooden houses and multiple cherry trees, the walk is almost too short.
Next stop is also along the route 36 at Hatago-Iwa. These pair of rocks, affectionately know as the rocks in love, are linked with a braided rope, a sign of their sacred properties. The animist Shinto religion also recognises that some inanimate objects have a soul, or are sacred. At the top of the two rocks, there is a miniature red sanctuary, another sign of their divine value.
Wajima, home of lacquer
Japanese artisans flock north to Wajima, the highlight of the peninsula, and notably for it lacquer products. The town is known across Japan for being one of the biggest purveyors of resin, used to create bowls, vases and furniture. There are even two museums dedicated to the craft, the Ishikawa-ken Wajimashitsugei Museum, displaying lacquer from across different ages, and the Wajima Shikki Kaikan which focuses more on the history of lacquer in the archipelago, its extraction and its different uses. Another one of Wajima’s unmissable attractions is its morning market, which takes place every day from 8am. It is among the 5 biggest markets in Japan. You’ll find a large range of fresh produce alongside the work of craftsmen who come to sell their work.
A few kilometres from Wajama, taking the route 249, you’ll find the terraced rice fields of Shiroyone. Along the hills there are 1004 rice fields organised like a staircase and spread across 4 hectares facing out towards the sea. The scene is totally breathtaking and even more impressive from May through the end of summer when the rice plants begin to resemble a large mirror before turning a deep green.
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