A day on the Noto Peninsula 能登半島の一日
Chirihama Nagisa Driveway, Noto Peninsula
The Sojiji temple in Wajima, Noto peninsula
Seafood at morning market of Wajima, Noto Peninsula
The terraced rice fields of Senmaida
Credit: Tristan Ferne
The terraced fields and rice fields of Senmaida
Credit: PYONKO OMEYAMA, Flickr
A small pebble path leads to the island of Mitsukejima
The wild coast of Japan
With its rugged and wild coastline, rice fields and small quiet villages, the Noto Peninsula is an ideal place to visit by car.
North of Ishikawa Prefecture, Noto Peninsula is poorly served by public transport, as it's remote and sparsely populated.
To make the most of this exceptional peninsula, we advise you to rent a car or join a tour from Kanazawa.
Heading north from Kanazawa, the first stop will be the long beach of Chirihama. Chirihama Nagisa Driveway is an 8 kilometer stretch of sandy beach where you can drive a car. It is the only beach in Japan where driving is permitted. And if you need a snack, take the opportunity to taste the various grilled shellfish on offer, a specialty of the area.
Take the coastal road from Kongo, which extends over a dozen kilometers along the Sea of Japan. Shaped by the breaking waves, this rugged coast offers beautiful scenery including some very famous rock formations.
Ganmon, literally "gate door", because the hole in the rock formation resembles a gate, is one of them. A little further north, the two rocks Hatago Iwa, are interconnected by a shimenawa, a special rope used in the Shinto religion to indicate that a place is sacred.
Continue to Wajima, and don't miss Soji-ji Temple, about an hour's drive north of Kanazawa. Founded in 1321, it was one of the largest monasteries of the Soto branch of Zen Buddhism in Japan.
Some buildings survived the fire that destroyed the monastery in 1898, while others were rebuilt identically. The buildings and grounds exude calm and serenity.
After half an hour's drive you reach the Noto peninsula lighthouse Wajima. The morning market (every day from 8am to noon) is one of the three largest markets in the archipelago. You can buy local products and souvenirs.
Wajima is also very famous for its production of lacquerware. Fans can visit the Museum of Lacquerware, Wajima Urushi Art Museum Wajima, or Shikki Kaikan, where you'll learn about this ancient art, and get the chance to buy some. The Museum of giant lanterns, Kiriko Hall, is also worth seeing. Wajima is also the perfect place for a seafood lunch.
After this more "urban" area, return to the countryside and visit the magnificent Senmaida rice terraces (literally "thousand rice fields"), a thousand small rice fields that tumble down to the sea. A great spot for photographers!
If you still have time, push further north, in the region of Okunoto, the "inner Noto". On the east coast of the peninsula, the island-rock Mitsuke-jima has become the emblem of the area. Some three kilometers away, there are some other rock formations to visit on Koiji beach.
A well deserved rest
On the way back to Kanazawa, a stop in the spa town of Wakura onsen offers a moment of relaxation after busy day. Enjoy a few hours in the baths or ryokan, and maybe spend the night there.
Discover the Noto Peninsula with our Travel Angel, Chris: Excursion in the Kanazawa area