Vegetarian's Japan Guide

The Ultimate Guide to the Stunning Noto Peninsula

The Noto Peninsula (能登半島) in Ishikawa Prefecture is rich in nature. The entire peninsula is designated as a national park. The diverse landscape created a unique rural culture that differs from the close-by popular destination – Kanazawa. The best way to explore the peninsula is to do a loop course and discover what each town or city has to offer!

The below attractions are listed according to their geographical locations, starting from the southwest side of the coast of the peninsula. A three-day itinerary can be easily planned out by following the sequence. As some places are harder to get to without a car, renting a car is highly recommended when you come to the Noto Peninsula. Otherwise, you will need to rely on regular and/or sightseeing buses, the information for which is provided below.

A List of Attractions in the Noto Peninsula

Sightseeing Trains and Buses in the Noto Peninsula

There are a couple of special sightseeing trains, and buses depart from JR Kanazawa Station.

Sightseeing Train Hanayome Noren (花嫁のれん)

The Nanao Line Tourist Train – Hanayome Noren is probably one of Japan’s most beautiful sightseeing trains.

The design of the train is inspired by Wajima lacquerware (輪島塗) and Kaga Yūzen (加賀友禅) dyeing techniques, as well as Kanazawa’s famous gold leaf. The interior of the carriages is elegantly decorated by the gorgeous patterns of Kaga Yūzen dyeing that resonates with the beautiful bride (*´ω`).

Hanayome Noren is a limited express train running between Kanazawa and Wakura Onsen (和倉温泉). As the departure time from Kanazawa is in the late morning, ending your trip with this splendid train may be a better idea.

Tip: If you hold a JR pass covering the Noto Peninsula and Kanazawa, it is free to board.

Important:
☛ Reservation is essential to board the train
☛ The service only operates from Friday to Sunday and on public holidays
☛ The meals offered on the train aren’t vegetarian. And the desserts in their confectionery set contain eggs. Also, a reservation is required for all bento boxes sold on the train

For more information about the rain, please refer to JR West’s website HERE.

Noto Satoyama Satoumi-Go (のと里山里海号)

Another sightseeing train in the area is running by Noto Railway (のと鉄道) between Nanao Station (七尾駅) and Anamizu Station (穴水駅). It runs along the west coastline of the Noto Peninsula, which will give you a great view of the surrounding sea and mountains.

The service also makes brief stops at spots with particularly stunning views, giving you just enough time for photos. And if you are bored with the view from the train’s window, walk around the carriage for the art and craftworks on display (^_-)-☆.

At Noto-Nakajima Station (能登中島駅), the train will stop for 10 minutes for you to check out the carriage that has been renovated into a post office. If you send out a postcard here, a special stamp will be stamped onto your postcard!

This service is, again, a reserve-only train. For more information and how to reserve, please refer to Noto Railway’s website HERE.

Tip: If you are visiting the peninsula in early to mid-April, make sure you drop by Noto-Kashima Station (能登鹿島駅). The cherry blossom is just beautiful there!

Tour Buses Running by Hokutetsu

There are also tour buses operating by Hokutetsu, which cover the majority of attractions in Kanazawa and the Noto Peninsula. Whilst a one-day tour is definitely not enough to fully enjoy the peninsula, it can be a great option if you have time constraints and/or don’t want to drive.

For more information, please refer to their pamphlet HERE.

NOTO Iro Taxi (NOTOいろタクシー)

For those who understand Japanese, you can also hire the NOTO Iro Taxi service, where the driver will become your personal guide during your time on the peninsula!

For more information, please refer to their website HERE.

The Fall Foliage at the Noto Peninsula

The fall foliage season at the Noto Peninsula is usually from mid to late November each year.

Chirihama Beach Driveway (千里浜なぎさドライブウェイ)

Chirimaha Beach Driveway is an 8 km beach shore that connects Imahama Coast (今浜海岸) and Chirihama Beach (千里浜). It is the only place you can freely drive any vehicle (including bicycles) on the sand in Japan. Even across the world, you probably won’t be able to find that many destinations where you can have your car running on the sand without doing anything to the tires.

As this isn’t a normal highway, you can stop your car almost anywhere you like for sunbathing or swimming! Just make sure your vehicle isn’t obstructing the ongoing traffic (^_-)-☆.

© 石川県観光連盟

For more information, please refer to our article on Chihihama Beach Driveway!

Click HERE to get back to a list of attractions in the Noto Peninsula.

Keta Grand Shrine (氣多大社)

© Keta Grand Shrine

Keta Grand Shrine (氣多大社), close to Chirihama Beach, is the representative shrine of the Noto Peninsula. According to Japan’s ancient documentation, the shrine was already the biggest in the central part of Japan’s main island back in 741. Originally, the shrine god was worshiped as the region’s guardian. But more recently, it is a well-known shrine for granting good relationships to pilgrims and a few interesting rituals you can apply to participate in!

For more information, please refer to our article on Keta Grand Shrine.

Click HERE to get back to a list of attractions in the Noto Peninsula.

Noto Kongō – Gammon (能登金剛・巌門)

Proceeding north of the Chirihama Beach Driveway, you will enter a region of countless strange rocks and cliffs extending for about 30 kilometers. The scenery here is as stunning as Mt. Kongou (Kumgang) (金剛山) in North Korea, which is why it is named Noto Kongō (能登金剛).

The most representative thing of the Noto Kongō is a 15-meter tall and 6-meter wide cave called Gammon (巌門) at the middle point of the coast. The penetration cave created by erosion on the bedrock over a long time can be enjoyed either by foot or by boarding a sightseeing boat.

For more information, please refer to our article on Noto Kongō Gammon!

© photo-ac.com

Click HERE to get back to a list of attractions in the Noto Peninsula.

Hatago Iwa (機具岩)

© photo-ac.com

Travel further north, you will see two rocks in the sea connected by a thick rope, which is why they are also known as Meoto-iwa (夫婦岩). As they look like the Futami-iwa (二見岩) in Ise (伊勢) City in Mie Prefecture, people also call them Noto-Futami.

Iwa (岩) means rock in Japanese.

Tip: If you can’t come here in the morning for better lighting, come just before sunset (^_-)-☆.

It is a 30-minute walk from the bus stop – Ushioroshi (牛下).

Click HERE to get back to a list of attractions in the Noto Peninsula.

The Longest Bench in the World (世界一長いベンチ)

On one side of Masuhogaura Beach (増穂浦海水浴場), you will find a really long bench. Stretching as far as 460.9 meters, this bench used to be the world’s longest bench when it was completed in 1989.

Because the sunset here is so stunning, 830 locals volunteered to build this bench in 1987, hoping to give visitors a nice place to enjoy the sunset over the Sea of Japan.

Apart from its length, the bench itself is quite ordinary. And it is, unfortunately, facing the wrong direction. As the sun starts to descend, you will need to look to your right to enjoy the view.

Nonetheless, we should feel thankful that this bench is for us to relax on. Sitting on the ground can be quite chilly, especially in the colder seasons.

How to Get to Longest Bench in the World

From JR Hakui Station (羽咋駅), take Hokutetsu Noto Bus (北鉄能登バス) bound for Togi (富来) and get off at the last stop – Togi. The bench is then just a 10-minute walk away.

For the bus service’s timetable, please refer to Keta Grand Shrine’s access information.

Click HERE to get back to a list of attractions in the Noto Peninsula.

Totoro Rock – Tsurugiji-Gongen Iwa (剱地権現岩(トトロ岩))

© photo-ac.com

Driving north from the Longest Bench in the world, you will see a rock of a height of 10 meters appearing out of the sea that excites all the Ghibli fans. It is a giant Totoro!

Unlike the Totoro in the anime, which is living in a forest and can only be seen by children with a pure heart, this one can be seen by anyone and is living in the Sea of Japan (≧▽≦).

Tip: There is a car park on both sides of the road. But if you want a selfie with the Totoro, you have to take it from its south. If you go against this rule, all you will get is just a giant rock (´▽`*).

Click HERE to get back to a list of attractions in the Noto Peninsula.

Shiroyone Senmaida Rice Terraces (白米千枚田)

Around 10 kilometers from the city center of Wajima (輪島) at Noto Peninsula’s northeast, rice terraces occupy the slope that faces the Sea of Japan.

© 輪島市産業部観光課

With a height of 50 meters, the usually flat rice field is divided into 1,004 smaller fields of a size of 18 square meters. Because of the restriction of the landscape, modern agricultural machinery can’t be used. So cultivation is done by traditional manual work. This is why the Shiroyone Senmaida Rice Terraces were registered in the Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (世界重要農業遺産システム) in 2011.

The terraces have also been designated as one of Japan’s National Places of Scenery Beauty.

The rice field scenery not only changes as the rice grows with the seasons but also differs throughout the day depending on the color of the sky and the sea.

In winter, the terraces look like a maze of snow walls!

© 輪島市産業部観光課
© 輪島市産業部観光課

The view is the most enchanting when the setting sun dyed the terraces with bright orange color!

From mid-October to mid-March, the color of the growing rice during the day changes to a nighttime illumination by 25,000 LED light bulbs that slowly change color.

© 輪島市産業部観光課

Wedding Ceremony at Shiroyone Senmaida Rice Terraces

© 輪島市産業部観光課

Every year in mid-September, two lucky couples will get the chance to hold their wedding ceremony at the rice terraces receiving blessings from the locals and tourists. Harvesting the golden rice ears together isn’t just a lifetime experience but also the first step they take together into the next chapter in their lives!

For those who live in Japan, application for this rare opportunity is usually opened in spring and can be made through Wajima City’s website.

How to Get to Shiroyone Senmaida Rice Terraces

Please refer to their website HERE for access information.

Click HERE to get back to a list of attractions in the Noto Peninsula.

Wajima Morning Market (輪島朝市)

Speaking of Wajima, the city in Noto Peninsula’s northeast, there is no way that you can miss out on its morning market. The market boasts more than 200 stalls and has more than 1,000 years of history!

Each morning, the market is packed with locals here for their groceries and tourists browsing around the local craftworks stalls looking for the perfect souvenir to bring home.

You might also find most of the items sold here don’t have a price tag attached. This is your opportunity to bargain with the stall owner for a price that satisfies both parties. Even if you don’t speak Japanese, body language always does the job (^_-)-☆.

Wajima Morning Market’s Opening Hours and Access Information

  • From 8 am to 12 pm daily except the 2nd and the 4th Wednesday and between the 1st to the 3rd of January
  • From JR Kanazawa Station west exit’s bus stop no. 7, take the Wajima Express Line (輪島特急線) and get off at the terminal stop – Wajima Marin Town (輪島マリンタウン)
    • The market is just a 5-minute walk away from the bus stop
    • Please refer to page 2 of THIS PDF for the timetable of the service

Click HERE to get back to a list of attractions in the Noto Peninsula.

Wajima Kiriko Art Museum (輪島キリコ会館)

After the morning market, drop by the Wajima Kiriko Art Museum. Less than a 10-minute walk from the market, you can see the unique festival floats of the Noto Peninsula.

Festival floats are used across the country, but most look like a splendidly decorated worship hall. The floats in the Noto Peninsula are more like giant lanterns with drawings and characters written on them.

In the Noto Peninsula, the festivals involving these floats are referred to as Kiriko Festival or Kiriko Matsuri in general. There are around 200 Kiriko Festivals held between July and October each year across the peninsula. To the people in Noto, they can miss out on reuniting with their families to celebrate New Year, but they have to attend the Kiriko Festival in their hometown!

The museum is a great place to get some festival vibes if you can’t attend the actual festivals themselves. Apart from the floats, videos of the local festivals are shown on screens, and you can also have your first Taiko Drum experience in the museum (=゚ω゚)ノ.

Important: Please note booking may be required for some of the experiences provided by the museum.

Almost all of the 30 floats in the museum are not much taller than an average adult, but there is a float that is as tall as a 4-stories building!

  • For more information about the museum, please refer to their English website HERE
  • For a list of Kiriko Festivals and when each festival is on, please refer to Ishikawa Prefecture’s website HERE and translate it to English by Google Chrome’s translation function

Taiko Drum Performance at Wajima Kiriko Art Museum

From spring to autumn, from 8:30 pm for 20 minutes, performers with festival masks will demonstrate how the drums are played during an actual festival in the museum!

In 2021, the event was on during the below dates:

  • From the 29th of April to the 9th of May
  • All weekends in May, June, and October
  • Every day from July to September except the 31st of July and the 1st and the 30th of August

Wajima Kiriko Art Museum’s Access Information, Admission Fees, and Opening Hours

  • The museum is less than a 10-minute walk from Wajima Morning Market. Please refer to Wajima Morning Market’s access information
  • The admission is
    • 630 yen for adults
    • 480 yen for senior high school students
    • 370 yen for elementary and junior high school students
  • The museum is open from 9 am to 5 pm daily with extending hours when the Taiko Performance is on

Click HERE to get back to a list of attractions in the Noto Peninsula.

Wajima Museum of Urushi Art (石川県輪島漆芸美術館)

Urushi (漆) means lacquer in Japanese.

Another thing that Wajima is famous for is its unique style of lacquerware. What makes the lacquerware from Wajima so special is its durability which is achieved by applying multiple layers of lacquer.

You can find Wajima lacquerware at the shops in the city for souvenirs. And if you want to admire the beauty of the masterpieces, come to the Wajima Museum of Lacquer Art. It is the only museum in the world that features lacquer arts, with collections on display changing regularly.

©石川県観光連盟

For more information, please refer to their website HERE.

The museum also offers a couple of lacquerware-related experiences that are quite fun to participate in. Reservation is required if you want to join these workshops. For a visual idea of the workshops, please refer to the museum’s website HERE.

To book, you will have to do it through their Japanese website HERE. As there are a couple of steps you must go through, you can contact us HERE, and we will try our best to assist.

Important: Whilst an English manual will be provided on the day, the staff speaks limited English.

Tip: Show THIS COUPON to receive a discount on your admission fee!

Wajima Museum of Urushi Art’s Opening Hours, Admission Fees, and Access Information

  • The museum is open from 9 am to 5 pm daily
    • The last admission at 4:30 pm
    • For the dates that the museum will close, please refer to their Japanese website HERE under “休館日”
  • The admission fee is
    • 630 yen for adults
    • 320 yen for senior high school and university students
    • 150 yen for elementary and junior high school students
  • The museum is around a 20-minute walk from Wajima Morning Market
  • From JR Kanazawa Station west exit’s bus stop no. 7, take the Wajima Express Line (輪島特急線) and get off at the terminal stop – Wajimanuri Kaikan (輪島塗会館)
    • The museum is around a 10 to 15-minute wak from the bus stop
    • Please refer to page 2 of THIS PDF for the timetable of the service.

Click HERE to get back to a list of attractions in the Noto Peninsula.

Rokkosaki Lighthouse (禄剛崎灯台)

At the cutting edge of the Noto Peninsula, a white lighthouse over 100 years old is still working hard to guide the ships in the sea. Designed by a talented British engineer, the lighthouse has great historical and cultural value and was chosen as one of the Top 50 Lighthouse in Japan. If the weather is good, you might even be able to see Korean Peninsula at the other end of the sea!

©石川県観光連盟

But to get to this beautiful part of the peninsula, you have some intense 10 minutes of climbing to do. Locating at the top of the hill, the slope is steep that sometimes even the experienced local guides will be short of breath on the way up!

If you plan to drive, there is a free car park at the Roadside Station Noroshi (道の駅狼煙). But be prepared to go through some narrow roads that you might have to back off, especially if a bus is coming from the opposite direction.

Sunrise and Sunset at Rokkosaki Lighthouse

Not only is it a great place to enjoy the panoramic view of the Sea of Japan, but it is also one of the rare spots in the world where you can see a perfect horizon for both sunrise and sunset!

As bus services aren’t running in the early morning and after sunset, if you can drive, we will highly recommend you to drive here before sunrise and/or sunset when you visit Oku-Noto (奥能登).

Oku (奥) means far end in Japanese. The area where the lighthouse locates is on the furthest side of the peninsula. It is thus referred to as “Oku-Noto” by the Japanese.

The Delicious Local Specialties at Roadside Station Noroshi

Whether driving or taking a bus, you will get off the vehicle at Roadside Station Noroshi. Before heading up, it might be a great idea to grab some local sweets made from soybeans to enjoy with the stunning view at the top of the hill.

How to Get to Rokkosaki Lighthouse by Public Transport

From JR Kanazawa Station (金沢駅) west exit’s bus stop no. 7, take the Suzu Express Line (珠洲特急線) and get off at Suzunarikan-mae (すずなり館前). From there, change for Suzu City Community Bus (珠洲市コミュニティバス) and get off at Noroshi (狼煙).

  • For the timetable for Suzu Express Line, please refer to the 3rd page of THIS PDF.
  • For the timetable for the Suzu City Community Bus’s Noroshi-iida Sea Route (狼煙飯田 海ルート), please refer to HERE.

Click HERE to get back to a list of attractions in the Noto Peninsula.

Cape Suzu (珠洲岬)

© photo-ac.com

Just a little bit south of Rokkosaki Lighthouse, Cape Suzu is the most beautiful place on the Noto Peninsula. In addition to the stunning view, it is also where the most fanciful ryokan is located!

For more information, please refer to our article on Cape Suzu (=゚ω゚)ノ.

Click HERE to get back to a list of attractions in the Noto Peninsula.

Mitsukejima (見附島)

Mitsukejima, or Mitsuke Island, is a small island with a height of 29.5 meters on the west coast of Suzu City (珠洲市). Because the island looks like a warship, people also call it Gunkanjima (軍艦島).

During the low tide, you can get closer to this warship by crossing the path made of stepping stones (but be careful as the stones are slippery). If you come before dawn, you will get a stunning selfie with the orange sun and the island as backdrops!

© photo-ac.com

At night, the island is lit up for the night owls to feel the island’s magnificence and to add some romantic elements to the beach walk for couples.

The Koiji Beach or Lover’s Pathway Beach is not far away from Mitsukejima. That is why the coastal area here is called Enmusu Beach, meaning a beach that ties the marriage tie. If you come with your partner, ring the Marriage Tie Bell (縁結びの鐘) at the beach shore in front of the Mitsukejima for some good luck for your relationship (^_-)-☆.

Tip: If you want a more colorful picture of the Gunkanjima, come in the afternoon. Because in the morning, the sun is shining on the other side of the island.

How to Get to Mitsukejima

There are a couple of ways that you can get to Mitsukejima.

  • From JR Ukai Station (鵜飼駅), take Hokutetsu Bus bound for Anamizu (穴水) and get off at Mitsukejima-guchi (見附島口), and it will be just another 5-minute walk to the island
    • HERE is the timetable for the service
    • If the column is marked as “日祝日運休”, the service won’t be running on Sundays and public holidays
    • If the column is marked as “土日祝運休”, the service won’t be running on weekends and public holidays
  • From JR Kanazawa Station, take Suzu Ushitsu Express (珠洲宇出津特急) and get off at Unami-Ukai (南鵜飼). It will be a 10-minute walk from the bus stop to the attractions
  • From JR Kanazawa Station, take Suzu Express (珠洲特急) and get off at Suzu-Ukai (珠洲鵜飼). It will be a 15 to 20-minute walk from the bus stop to the island
    • Please refer to page 3 of THIS PDF for the timetable for the two services

Click HERE to get back to a list of attractions in the Noto Peninsula.

Koiji Beach (恋路海岸)

So why does this beach named Lover’s Pathway? It is due to a love story that ended with tragedy with the couple losing their lives at the beach. There is a statue of the couple at the beach if you are interested in what they look like.

That small island in the sea with the red torii gate at the front is called Bentenjima (弁天島). It is practically a symbol of Koiji Beach. The gate won’t be as red when you go as the color has faded (unless they repaint it, of course). You will be able to reach the island at low tide but prepare to get a bit wet (^_-)-☆.

©石川県観光連盟

In summer, the beach is set aside for swimming and other activities. In 2021, the dates were from the 22nd of July to the 22nd of August.

Koiji Fire Festival (恋路火祭り)

In July, the Koiji Fire Festival is one of the most popular festivals in the area. Two Kiriko Floats are paraded around in the sea with fireworks launching in the night sky.

The whole event actually starts in the afternoon when the floats are carried to Bentenjima. The last festival that was held in 2019, this part of the festival was completed between 2 to 4 pm. At 9 pm, the second part of the festival started with the floats floating on the sea and ended at 11 pm.

The festival is held on the day before Marine Day (海の日) in Japan each year. If you are interested in the festival, google the exact date for the year you are visiting.

Notoro Trolley (のトロ) at Old Koiji Station (恋路駅)

At Koiji Beach, not only can you have fun at the beach, but you can also give the Notoro Trolley a try!

Before Noto Railway (のと鉄道) abandoned its Noto Line (能登線) in 2005, people used to be able to come to Koiji Beach by train. Trolleys replaced trains with wheels that fit the track in 2013 for tourists to enjoy some peddling.

The photos in the Instagram post might get you to worry about the amount of effort that is required to move that trolly. After all, it has a capacity of eight people!

Fortunately, the trolley is electrically assisted. You won’t be exhausted by the end of this activity (*´ω`).

Below are a few things that you need to know about the Notoro Trolley:

  • Reservation is essential by calling +81-8698-2559. If no one answers, please try calling Sōgen Sake Brewery (宗玄酒造) at +81-768-84-1314. The trolley is owned by the brewery
    • If you don’t speak Japanese, kindly ask the staff at your accommodation to see if they can make a booking on your behalf
  • The rail track that is left for the trolley is only 300 meters from Koiji Station (恋路駅) to Sōgen Tunnel (宗玄トンネル)
  • The cost is
    • 500 yen for adults
    • 300 yen for primary school students and below
  • It doesn’t operate on rainy days, and in winter

How to Get to Koiji Beach

Most buses that stop close to Mitsukejima will make a stop at Koiji Beach as well.

  • From JR Ukai Station (鵜飼駅), take Hokutetsu Bus bound for Anamizu (穴水) and Koiji-hama (恋路浜), and it will be just another 5-minute walk to the beach
    • HERE is the timetable for the service
  • From JR Kanazawa Station, take Suzu Ushitsu Express (珠洲宇出津特急) and get off at Koiji-hama (恋路浜) for Koiji Beach. It will be a 5 mins walk from the bus stop to the beach
    • Please refer to page 3 of THIS PDF for the timetable for the service

Click HERE to get back to a list of attractions in the Noto Peninsula.

Tsukuno-wan Bay (九十九湾)

If you are looking for the most beautiful places in the Noto Peninsula, Tsukuno-wan Bay is the one. As there are 99 coves in the small bay, it is named Tsukuno. Chosen to be one of the top 100 Landscapes of Japan, the bay boasts its glass-like, highly transparent seawater and beautiful forests onshore. It is also a great place to meet some small creatures in the sea.

The easiest way to enjoy the bay is by following the promenade made by stepping stones in the sea along the complex coastline. If you want to enjoy the scenery of the cove from afar, hopping on one of the sightseeing boats will fulfill that wish.

There are also various activities, including stand-up paddling and snorkeling, for you to enjoy your time here!

For more information, please refer to their website HERE.

How to Get to Tsukuno-wan Bay

From JR Kanazawa Station, take Suzu Ushitsu Express (珠洲宇出津特急) and get off at Tsukuno-wan (九十九湾). It will be a 10 mins walk from the bus stop to the attractions

Please refer to page 3 of THIS PDF for the timetable for the service

Wakura Onsen Town (和倉温泉)

Known among hot spring lovers, one of the most popular spots amongst the Japanese in the Noto Peninsula is Wakura Onsen Town.

Discovered around 1,200 years ago, the onsen became famous after the second lord of the Kaga Domain – Maeda Toshinaga (前田利長), who was treated with the hot spring here. Other than the hot spring, the town is also known for its delicious sweets and desserts!

For more information, please refer to our article on Wakura Onsen!

Yuttari-Park-Footbath-Noto-Peninsula-Ishikawa-Japan
© 石川県観光連盟

Find out What to Do and Where to Go in Kanazawa

Tsuzumi-mon-Gate-Kanazawa-Ishikawa-Japan
Click the photo to find out more information about Kanazawa!

The Noto Peninsula and Kanazawa usually go hand in hand when travelers plan their trip to Ishikawa Prefecture. Kanazawa itself has so many attractions that can’t be fully explored within a day.

To find out the places that might interest you in one of Japan’s most sought-after cities by international visitors, refer to our article on Kanazawa City!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.