Translated by Jasmine Nishino
Discover The Culture and Traditions of Noto, Ishikawa Prefecture!
Noto is an area in Ishikawa prefecture, famous for its beautiful nature, agricultural industry, and Wajima lacquerware. We introduce here some of the places that you should visit when in Noto, as well as some unique cultural experiences that can be enjoye
Written by MATCHA
What is Noto?
Being only one hour by plane from Haneda Airport in Tokyo and two hours by car from Kanazawa, Noto in Ishikawa prefecture is a large peninsula facing the sea of Japan. Surrounded by the sea, Noto is known for its rich seafood and delicious rice. It also boasts some of the most beautiful nature spots in the Hokuriku region along with places famous for their traditional crafts.
In this article we have collected the best of Noto!
Shiroyone Senmaida - A Scenic Global Heritage Site
When visiting the Noto peninsula, the first place that is recommended to visit is Shiroyone Senmaida in Wajima city. On a steep cliff between the national expressway and the sea, you will spot a massive terraced field of 1,004 rice patties.
During the winter, snow piles on the terraced farms of Shiroyone Senmaida creating a beautiful panorama of white. During the harvesting season of summer, you will see a field of gold with the ears of rice glittering from the setting sun. Visitors of the area are greatly impressed with the breathtaking scenery.
The scenery of Senmaida that changes every season is loved even by people outside of Japan. This view has been registered as World Agricultural Heritage site.
Address: Ishikawa, Wajima city, Futatsuyamachi 2-29
Phone number: +81-0768-23-1146
Website: http://senmaida.wajima-kankou.jp/ (Japanese)
Crop Harvesting Experience!
Noto's rice is grown with a lot of care by the local farmers.
White rice is a must-have dish in Japanese cuisine. However, rice can only grow in areas with clean water and with soil that is rich in minerals.
In Noto, visitors from abroad can also join a real rice harvesting experience and get a hands-on experience with the rice that the farmers have grown!
You do not need anything special for the rice harvest experience. Just wear the long boots provided and take a small sickle before heading off to the rice field.
Learning how to harvest the crops from local farmers, you will work as a member of the team together with other participants. In this photo you see them tie the harvested crops together and stacking them to dry. The participants' smiles show how special was this experience they tried for the first time.
Aside from being able to enjoy a Japanese farm experience, you will be able to feel the love of the farmers toward the crops as well. The harvesting experience may be something even the Japanese have yet to experience themselves. If you ever visit Noto, we warmly recommend you to try learning about the Japanese farming and rice making methods by going to the fields!
What is the Intangible Cultural Heritage "Aenokoto"?
Aside from nature and food, Noto is known as a location with rich history and culture. Classified as UNESCO's Intangible Cultural Heritage and a National Important Intangible Folk Cultural Property, "Aenokoto" is a ritual that has been passed down in the Noto region for ages. It is a unique and rare cultural farming ceremony of Japan.
Twice a year, in December and February, the "Aenokoto" is held at the farmers' houses. In December, after the harvesting season ends, the head of the household digs up the "deity of the field" from the land of their farm. He invites the deity to their home, bathes them, offers them food and expresses gratitude for the good harvest. Afterward, they keep the deity in their homes until the beginning of the harvesting season in February. Then once again, the household will bring offerings to the deity before sending them off to the field praying for another good year of harvest.
The deity of the field is said to be blind, so the head of the household explains what contain all the dishes brought as an offering, and also carefully guides the deity to the house. The head talks to the deity as if it were a guest. This is a spiritual world that has been passed down in farm residences for generations.
See How The "Aenokoto" Is Like!
Usually, this is a ceremony held only at farm houses. However, at Gourokuan in the Yanagida Botanical Garden of Noto city, you will be able to see the ceremony. This is a great opportunity to experience a traditional folk ceremony passed down only in Japanese farm residences.
Address: Ishikawa, Housu district, Noto city, Kanmachi 1-1
Phone Number: +81-0768-76-1680
Website: http://yanagida.main.jp/gourokuan/ (Japanese)
High Quality Traditional Lacquerware - Wajimanuri
Noto is famous for its traditional crafts. The Wajima lacquerware is one of these crafts.
With a lengthy history of 600 years, Wajima lacquerware undergoes 124 processes before completion. Each step is done by the hands of professional craftsmen. Wajima lacquerware uses special clay from the Wajima area, resulting in sturdy vessels with beautiful colors. The more you use them, the glossier the surface becomes and even their color is said to become deeper.
For more information about lacquerware please refer to Japanese Encyclopedia: Urushi, Urushinuri And Shikki (Lacquerware).
See How Wajima Lacquerware Is Made!
Operating since 1858, the Wajimanuri Shioyasu Shikki Kobo is a studio that not only sells Wajima lacquerware, but is also known as a workshop where you can watch how these items are made.
Wajimanuri Shioyasu Shikki Kobo
Address: Ishikawa, Wajima city, Hizume Oisemachi, 20
Phone Number: +81-0768-22-1166
Website: http://www.shioyasu.com/ (Japanese)
Summer In Noto - The "Kiriko Festival"
For the people in Noto summer means the Kiriko Festival. From July to October, the Kiriko Festival is held approximately 200 times in places all over the Noto area. The people carry "Kiriko" (lanterns) with their holy flame on mikoshi shrines parading around the town after the sun sets. The way the festival is held varies depending on the area as well. At times, the participants even enter the sea, and there are also festivals with colossal kiriko lanterns carried by over a hundred people.
Join The Kiriko Festival!
In Noto visitors from abroad can experience the Kiriko festival by carrying a mikoshi shrine that is usually carried by children.
The participants wear happi coats and hachimaki bandanas before heading to the festival. Once they finish praying for the safety of the festival, they lift the mikoshi and parade through the city of Noto.
Experience a Farm Stay at "Shunran no Sato"
Noto is known as a farming town. If you stop by Noto, you may want to taste the flavors of the local dishes. At Shunran no Sato, you will be able to see the authentic scenery of the countryside while being welcomed warmly in a traditional Japanese house. Some of these farm guest houses have been opened a century ago!
After spending a fun time out, you will be able to gather together around the traditional "irori" fireplace. Enjoy the retro Japanese feel while savoring the dishes made with fresh vegetables from the mountains and the delicious seafood. This will be a great time to relax and spend time with the local people who run the guest house.
In the spring, you can journey out to the mountains to pick vegetables, while in the summer you can play in the cool rivers and watch fireflies. Autumn is the season to go mushroom picking in the mountains and in the winter you can even make a snow igloo! There are so many ways to enjoy the seasons and activities at Shunran no Sato.
Find Your Second Home At This Farm Village
Escape from the busy city to relax in the soothing breeze at Shunran no Sato. Spend a night and you will surely feel refreshed! The best of all is the warm and welcoming hosts who treat their guests like their own family. They will make you feel like you've returned to your "second home" in Shunran no Sato.
Shunran no Sato
Address: Ishikawa, Hosu District, Noto, Miyaji 16-9
Phone Number: +81-0768-0021
Website: http://shunran.info/ (Japanese)
While being a scenic location, Noto in Ishikawa prefecture is known widely as a city where many traditional crafts have been passed down for ages. It is also a place where the guests can experience a "warmth" which money cannot buy. If you happen to visit Noto, please enjoy the nature and spend some time with the friendly local people!