The Chirihama Beach Driveway is a rare 8 km driveway running along the beaches from Oshimizu to Hakui City and provides many a refreshing view of the sea.
Notokongo is seen as an example of the peninsula’s ‘masculine’ scenery when compared to the ‘femininity’ of the Chirihama area. Of note in Notokongo are Ganmon, a rock filled with caves produced over the millennia by the wild waves of the Sea of Japan and the Yase Cliff rising a full 50 meters from the surface of the sea.
Keta Taisha Shrine
The Keta Taisha is located in Hakui City, Teramachi and has been a point of worship for approximately 2000 years. The most prominent shrine on the Noto Peninsula, it is popular nowadays as being home to the god of marriage.
Noto was already a key stop on the transport routes to the Tohoku district as well as being a gateway to China and other Asian countries by around the 7th or 8th centuries.
Wajima, at the center of the Okunoto area and facing the Sea of Japan was the focal point of local commerce and trade after villages were created in the area as long ago as the Jomon period (10,000 BC-the 4th century BC). Prosperous times followed as the center of local trade between China and Japan between the Nara & Heian periods (circa.800AD-1200AD) and Wajima became a base for many Kitamaebune (trading vessels plying their trades on the Sea of Japan) while under the rule of the Maeda family of the Kaga clan during the Edo period.
Wajima today though often reminds people of Wajima lacquerware. Locally produced lacquerware with a history of more than 1000 years is a very famous craft respected throughout the nation and around the world as a representative Japanese craft. The Asaichi (morning market) exhibits another face of Wajima and although Asaichi was once merely a market in which local people bartered, it has now become famous as a sightseeing spot in the town – albeit one selling the freshest of seafood, vegetables and wild plants.
Kiriko (the proper name is kiriko-toro) is a form of lantern produced only in the Noto district. When carried, it is used to lead portable shrines during festivals. Approximately 20 kiriko are displayed in the Kiriko Kaikan and the exhibits include a giant 15 m lantern weighing 2 tons and needing 100 men to carry as well as older, more reasonably sized lacquered lanterns from the Edo period.
Wakura Onsen is a 1200-year-old hot spring. Home to many large ryokan (Japanese-style hotels) with excellent service its popularity speaks for itself as over 1 million people visit each year. For day trippers, bathing without staying in a ryokan is now possible.
Notojima is an island of beauty in Nanao Bay now connected to the mainland by the Notojima Ohashi Bridge. Once there, visitors can observe the process of producing local glasswork and can even try to make their own original drinking glasses at the Notojima Glass Studio.
Gojinjyo-daiko (Drum Performance)
The origin of the Gojinjo-daiko dates back to 1577 when the Echigo domain lord, Uesugi Kenshin invaded the Noto Peninsula. Villagers of the period bravely beat war drums and wore ferocious looking devil masks with seaweed on their heads in a bid to scare off their enemies. The low sound of drums is not unlike the sound associated with the rumbling of the earth and the Gojinjo-daiko is performed at the Nafune-taisai festival. Performances are also held at Wajima Bunka Kaikan and the Kasuga Shrine on Sosogi Beach from late April to late November.
The Kiriko Matsuri are a collection of summer festivals held at more than 100 places all over the Noto Peninsula from early July to mid September. Kiriko lanterns, an impressive 10 m in height are carried throughout the towns and the majestic kiriko create both a gorgeous yet a solemn atmosphere as they swing in the night sky. The Abare Matsuri in Noto-cho is the first Kiriko festival held each year with the Issaki Hoto Matsuri in Nanao City, the Wajima Taisai in Wajima City, the Koiji Himatsuri in Uchiura-cho and other Kiriko Matsuri following thereafter. The climax of the Horyu Tanabata Matsuri in Suzu City features ‘kiriko in the sea’ as many kiriko rush from the beach towards three torches already in place – dynamic scenes initiated by the brave men of the sea.