Friday, July 15, 2011

Around the Noto in One Day

We awoke the next morning feeling a little worse for wear, but ready to tackle a long day of driving. The Noto Peninsula juts out of the north western side of Japan and is known for its scenic but rural nature. Kanazawa is the cultural heart of Ishikawa prefecture, so there was never much reason to seek out the more rural areas. My lack of friends with cars also made it harder to explore. Japan Rail service stops at Nanao, and I had never made it north of there.

My primary goal for the day was a stop at the Senmaida, or 1,000 rice fields. Its a series of small rice paddies stairstepping down a steep slope towards the sea. Its a very famous place, especially around Ishikawa, and I had always wanted to see it myself. The day was a little greyer than I may have liked, as it often is in Japan. However, the view was still amazing.

My current home in Gunma is one of the more landlocked areas in Japan, so it was nice to get a view of the ocean, in this case the Japan Sea. Travis and I were stopped by a pair of Japanese tourists who wanted to get photos taken with us. This isnt actually as uncommon as you might think. There can still be a touch of "Holy Moses a Foreigner!" in daily life here, especailly in the more boondocky areas.

Our next stop was totally unplanned. We happened to be traveling on Childrens Day, which is celebrated with giant carp streamers. We passed by a small town that had a huge display up, with dancers and food vendors to round out the flying fish. It wasnt much, but it was a nice stop to break up our long drive.

Lunch was at the Nihonkai Microbrewery. Micro brewing is slowly gaining in popularity in Japan, but it still hasn't caught on with the fervor it has in America. There are a few excellent smaller brewers though, and Nihonkai is one of them. Not only is the beer pretty good, but their brew pub is a perfectly American take on pairing good food and good beer in one place. One very scenic place I might add, on a hill overlooking the Japan Sea. They even have an epic slide to take you down to the beach, though you may want to limit your beer intake before you ride it. For lunch I got a big plate of kebab meat, a huge naan bread and enough salad to make me feel like it might be healthy. It was a bit of a culture clash, but still plenty delicious.

We finished the day back in Kanazawa in the Kagadaiko yakitori restaurant. I always say that it is my favorite bar in the world, and that hasn't changed. Excellent yakitori, large cold draft Asahi, hilarious staff and good friends all on offer. It doesn't get much better than that.


victoriasart said...

Wow! I really like the photos of the rice fields with the Japan Sea as backdrop. Beautiful. I think the fog adds a nice touch but I sure can understand if you only get there once in your life, a bit of sun would have been nice. I would have liked to have seen this. We went to Nanao, didn't we?

Travelingrant said...

Yeah, you would have enjoyed this area for sure. We did go to Nanao. We had tried to see the festival I posted about earlier, but I didn't know it was a night festival!