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Okunoto Salt Farm Village 奥能登塩田村

Centuries-old salt-farming techniques unique to the area

The people of the Noto Peninsula have been harvesting salt from seawater using the same traditional methods for about 500 years. The Okunoto Salt Farm Village offers an in-depth experience where visitors can learn about and observe salt-harvesting. This museum and roadside station explains and shows how salt is harvested. This is the only facility in Japan to use this traditional technique, called agehama.

The method involves spraying seawater over a packed sand field using a conical bucket. The sand is raked throughout the day as the water evaporates, separating the crystallized salt from the sand. The resulting brine is then boiled for 18 hours in large cauldrons. Harvesting salt using the agehama method is tiring work; because both men and women in Okunoto carry it out, the women in the area have earned a reputation as especially hard workers. Masters in the agehama method must undergo three years of training in gathering seawater and 10 years of training in spraying it over the sand.

Visitors to Okunoto Salt Farm Village can watch the salt-gathering process on sunny days between July and mid-October. With an advance reservation, visitors can participate in a two-hour salt-making workshop and take home the salt they produce.

The Okunoto Salt Farm Village encourages visitors to taste salt harvested here. Other salt-central products like rice balls, soda pop, ice cream, cookies, and nigari—a by-product of the salt-making process that is an essential ingredient in making tofu—are available for sale.

Agehama salt from Okunoto contains more minerals than factory-produced salt and has a unique flavor reminiscent of the sea. The lords of the Kaga domain (present-day Ishikawa and its surroundings) used to buy their salt from the Noto Peninsula during the Edo period (1603–1867). The lords paid for the salt in rice since the conditions in Noto tended to be poor for rice farming.


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