After spending a few days sightseeing in Kanazawa, get out of the city for a picturesque drive around Noto Peninsula. This rugged peninsula offers it’s fair share of local charm and natural beauty and is a perfect day trip in Ishikawa Prefecture.
While it may be possible to see many of the listed sights by public transportation, to do this as a proper day trip from Kanazawa, you should consider renting a car. We recommend Times Car Rental at Kanazawa Station. In addition, all of the following sights are free to visit.
Wajima Morning Market
Start your day trip early in order to make it to Wajima, about 90 minutes from Kanazawa, in time for the morning market. Every day, from 8:00 to 12:00, vendors fill the city center, selling local produce, snacks, and souvenirs. There are also some stalls hawking wajima nuri, the famous local lacquerware. What truly makes this market special, though, are the characters. Many of the vendors are elderly women from nearby rural areas, and their salty personalities add flavor to this traditional local market.
Senmaida Rice Fields
When you drive north of Wajima, the highway twists and turns, reflecting the choppy coastline below. This may seem an unlikely place for agriculture, but in fact, this is home to one of the biggest rice fields in Japan. These aren’t just any countryside plots, but over 1,000 terraced rice paddies tucked along the dramatic hillside. Because of the unique shape of the paddies, local farmers maintain them by hand, using traditional methods.
The resulting landscape contains a breathtaking spread of rice terraces that zigzag across the cliff with a view of the sea far below. This gorgeous view is a prime spot for photos. In spring, the sun reflects off the flooded paddies; in summer, the vibrant green stalks sway in the sea breeze, and in winter the barren fields are lit at night. The Senmaida rice fields look great in any season.
Okunto Salt Farm Village
The people of the Noto Peninsula have been harvesting salt from the sea using traditional methods for over 500 years. The Okunto Salt Farm Village gives visitors a unique opportunity to learn about and observe this firsthand.
The salt farmers in Noto are hardcore. Harvesting salt is a painstaking, multi-step process that requires seawater to be sprayed over sand and raked many times to separate the salt as the water evaporates in the sun. At the Okunto Salt Farm, you can watch both men and women dressed in traditional clothing with wide, conical hats tending to the salt fields. There is also a museum and souvenir shop where you can buy salt products. We highly recommend trying the soft ice cream with a sprinkle of local salt: it’s addicting!
Mitsukejima, the Found Island
Continue your Noto drive up the Okunoto Coast to Suzu, on the “inner” coast near the tip of the peninsula. Outside the city, stop to marvel at Mitsukejima, a massive, 30 meter-tall rock jutting vertically out of the sea. While the name means “found island”, since legend has it it was discovered by Kodo Daishi over a thousand years ago, most people call this rock “Gunkanjima”. Indeed, with its smooth sides and narrow, pointed face, the island strongly resembles a gunkan battleship. A rock path leads through the water to the island, but it can get quite slippery. The nearby beach is a tranquil spot for an afternoon stroll. The water here is clear and calm, and perfect for a swim. Parking near Mitsukejima is free, and there are foot showers located near the public toilets.
On your way back down to the city, take a detour to Chirihama Beach. No, you don’t need to stop: this is the only beach in Japan you can drive on! For eight kilometers down the coastline, the sand is packed flat enough that private cars are allowed. Traffic runs in both directions. However, if you come in the evening, you will be rewarded both with a lack of other cars and gorgeous sunset views over the beach to conclude your perfect day trip from Kanazawa.
For more information on the Noto Peninsula, visit https://www.ishikawatravel.jp/en
Post by Japan Journeys