10 Best Things to Do in The Noto Peninsula of Ishikawa

mitsukejima ishikawa Chubu
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Miho Shimizu is a Japanese freelance writer settled in Shizuoka with her husband and two rabbits. Fascinated with traveling at the age of 18, she has spent most of her long holidays exploring incredible spots around Japan. She also loves to listen to music, draw, and read novels over a cup of green tea.

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The Noto Peninsula is a great destination for those who are seeking an unforgettable experience in the Hokuriku region of Japan. This scenic peninsula is in the northern part of Ishikawa prefecture and sticks out into the Sea of Japan. In this area you will discover top notch seafood caught freshly from the nearby sea, breathtaking and beautiful natural wonders, refreshing hot springs and unique cultural experiences with the locals. Let’s dive into 10 of the best things to do in the Noto Peninsula of Ishikawa prefecture!      

1. Take in the stunning beauty of Senmaida

Shiroyone Senmaida Rice Terraces is a picturesque spot along the west coast of the Noto Peninsula. Senmaida (千枚田) literally means a thousand rice fields, and truthful to the name, there are about 1004 rice fields total all of which have been preserved by local farmers for centuries. The beautiful rice terraces are spread out over a steep hillside that stretches towards the sea of Japan. From the top there are breathtaking views that differ every season from lush green fields in early summer to white snow-covered fields in winter. Each rice paddy is fairly small and all the work from planting to harvesting is carefully done by hand. They are particularly beautiful when the colors from the bright sunset reflect on the surface of the water in the rice fields.       

2. Soak in the relaxing hot springs at Wakura Onsen

wakura onsen kagaya

Ishikawa Prefecture is home to wonderful hot spring resorts, most of which have a long history. Wakura Onsen is about a 1.5-hour train ride from JR Kanazawa station and is located along the beautiful Nanao Bay. There are about 40 hotels and ryokan in the area where you can stay. Kagaya (加賀屋) is an award-winning ryokan and is best known for its exceptional service and luxury experience. If you are just stopping by for the day, Wakura So-yu is a popular public onsen that offers a refreshing hot spring experience for just 460 yen. Notojima Aquarium is also a great spot in the area, and can be a fun option for families. It is easily accessible from Wakura Onsen by car or bus.  

Recommended Stay: Kagaya    

3. Take a drive along Chirihama Beach

If you are thinking about renting a car during your trip to the Noto Peninsula, Chirihama Beach is definitely a must-visit spot! This scenic beach stretches approximately 8 kilometers between Hakui City to Hodatsushimizu Town along the west coast of Noto peninsula. It is the only beach in all of Japan on which you can drive on and many people visit it for this reason alone. Not to mention it’s a great place to enjoy a warm sunny beach day. Driving along the beautiful 8-kilometer stretch of the sandy beach is the best way to enjoy the stunning ocean view which is particularly beautiful when the sun is setting.    

4. Grab some breakfast at Wajima Morning Market

Getting up early and exploring the Wajima Morning Market will give you the opportunity to discover delicious local food culture and tradition in the Noto area. With a history of over 1,000 years, this morning market has been loved by local people and is one of the three largest morning markets in Japan. Depending on the day, there are about 100 – 250 small stalls along the lively 400-meter long street that sell a wide range of items, including traditional crafts, fresh seafood, handmade accessories, local sweets and much more. If you want to buy a nice memorable gift or souvenir to take home with you, Wajima Lacquerware could be just the thing for you. It has been exclusively produced in the Wajima area with professional techniques from long ago. There are also grilling stations where you can buy and cook your own seafood!       

5. Take a boat cruise and explore the Ganmon Caves

Ganmon Cave is a scenic natural attraction located along the rugged coastline in Shika Town on the west coast of the Noto Peninsula. There is a naturally-formed giant rock about 15 meters tall and 6 meters wide with a symbolic hole in the center created by the rough ocean waves over the years. Taking a sightseeing boat cruise is the best way to enjoy the dynamic scenery and coast. You can also walk down a pathway with steps leading to the inside of the dim and mysterious cave that opens up on the other side. If the weather permits, you may be lucky enough to see the gorgeous reflection of the sun on the crystal-clear water from the cave. It is about a 40-minute bus ride from Hakui station and there is free parking available.          

6. Visit Mitsukejima

Mitsukejima is another natural beauty and is famous as a symbol of the Noto Peninsula. This iconic rock stands 28 meters tall and is located about 200 meters off the coast of Suzu city near the northern edge of the Noto Peninsula. It is also known as “Gunkanjima” (軍艦島), as the unique shape of the rock resembles a giant battleship. When the tide is low, you can walk up to the iconic rock that is topped with lush green trees. Many couples visit this spot with their partner, as it is said that your love will last forever if you ring the bell on the beach!   

7. Enjoy the panoramic views from Besshodake Sky Deck

Bessho Dake is a 358-meter-tall mountain nestled between Nanao city and Anamizu Town in the central part of the Noto Peninsula. It is a popular spot which offers a wide range of refreshing outdoor experiences all year round. Spring is the best time to pick edible plants, bird watch, or even forest bathe while surrounded by lush greenery and the pleasant smell of spring flowers. Many people also visit in the fall to go mushroom hunting and admire the stunning and beautiful autumn leaves. Be sure not to forget to stop by the Bessho Dake Skydeck as well. From the observation deck you can enjoy the panoramic views of Nanao Bay and the Tateyama Mountain ranges in the distance!     

8. Sit on the 2nd longest bench in the world

Officially listed in the Guinness Book of World Records, Ishikawa boasts the 2nd longest bench in the world (used to be the longest bench in the world). This wooden bench is 460.9 meters long and was completed by over 830 local volunteers in 1987. Located along the scenic Masunoura Beach in Shika Town, this bench allows everyone to take a seat and enjoy the beautiful ocean view with the comfortable sea breeze. Masunoura Beach itself is also a great spot for a variety of water sports and swimming during the summer. The sunset from the bench is stunningly beautiful and will take your breath away as the bright sunset slowly sets on the Sea of Japan. 

9. Take a picture at Totoro rock

If you love Ghibli movies, the name “Totoro” will certainly sound familiar, but did you know that there is actually a place in Japan where you can see the adorable imaginary creature in rock form? Located along the rugged coastline in Wajima city, Totoro Rock is a symbolic giant rock that attracts Ghibli fans from around the world. The shape of the rock looks exactly like Totoro, with two eyes, and its huge body that is covered with green moss and small plants, making it look like it is alive! There is free parking nearby and you can park your car there and walk up right by the rock.          

10. Join a Kiriko Festival

Steph & Adam, (CC BY 2.0), via Wikimedia Commons

From July to October, the Noto Peninsula hosts traditional Kiriko festivals every year. Kiriko means giant lantern floats in Japanese, and they are carried around the cities throughout the Noto Peninsula during the long summer festival season. Design, size and decoration of the Kiriko floats differ from region to region, and it is said there are about 700 – 800 floats total in the area. Some are gorgeously painted with gold leaf and traditional Japanese lacquer called “Urushi” (漆). Kiriko typically have three Kanji printed on the front that represent hopes and wishes from the locals. Wajima Kiriko Art Museum exclusively showcases a collection of 30 giant Kiriko lantern floats that stand over 10 meters!   

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If you want to make the most of your time in the Noto Peninsula, we recommend you spend at least a couple of days (preferably more than 3 days) to explore as many of these amazing spots as possible. With fairly limited public transport, it is most convenient to rent a car if you have an international or Japanese driver’s license. It will allow you to get around the scenic peninsula easily and visit the magnificent natural attractions in the more remote locations. We hope you found something that you are interested in and have the chance to check out some of the best things to do in the Noto Peninsula of Ishikawa soon!

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