Ishikawa Farmstay: A Rural Retreat in Japan's Hidden Heartland - Day1
The Noto Peninsula, extending out into the Japan Sea just a short distance from Tokyo and Osaka, was once considered a remote destination for tourists. However, with the completion of the Noto Airport in 2003, and the Hokuriku Shinkansen line extension to Kanazawa in 2015, the region is now an easily accessible and hidden destination for those seeking a unique, unpretentious rural experience in Japan. With farming and fishing the primary industries here for generations, the Noto Peninsula is the perfect place for a farmstay or a few nights in a Japanese-style bed and breakfast while exploring the fantastic ocean sceneries and activities the area has on offer.
Chirihama Nagisa Driveway
After arriving at Kanazawa Station on the Hokuriku Shinkansen bullet train from Tokyo, our first stop was to pick up our rental car. Although it is possible to tour the area by public transport, and many Japanese people do, it would be necessary to travel extensively for your farmstay experience, so we highly recommend the freedom a rental car affords. In addition, the roads in the region are very well maintained, and the peaceful atmosphere makes it a great place to get a relaxed driving experience in Japan.
40-min drive from Kanazawa station to Chirihama Beach Driveway
After picking up the rental car, we headed to Chirihama Nagisa Driveway, just a 40-minute drive away. The Imahama entrance is well-marked and easy to find, and the experience is an exhilarating drive along a sandy beach. The beach is made of fine silt, around half the size of a regular sand grain, creating a wonderfully smooth driving surface for cars, motorbikes, and buses for beachgoers. While you could easily spend your afternoon driving along these sandy shorelines, the beach is also a wonderful seaside stop to have a BBQ and picnic for the day while admiring the ocean views.
At the north end of the driveway is Noto Chirihama Rest House, which has a coworking space with one of the region’s best views of the ocean and a restaurant and souvenir shop selling local delicacies.
7-min drive from Chirihama Beach Driveway to the Roadside Station Noto Chirihama
Roadside Station Noto Chirihama
Roadside Station Noto Chirihama opened in 2017 and has since become a hive of local activity, including a hub of small businesses selling goods made from local produce and handicrafts. The roadside station is also a popular spot to pick up one of its bento lunch boxes, one of the most sought-after orders from locals and visitors. The kitchen chef also worked at a ryokan traditional Japanese inn known for its cuisine, so don’t be surprised to see the artful presentation of kaiseki cooking techniques on full display in your packed lunch meal.
Don’t miss the gelato shop inside the roadside station with flavorful combinations regularly ranked in national gelato contests. We tried the almond and grapefruit flavor gelato — the buttery smooth almond followed by the surprising kick of the citrus grapefruit was the perfect complement to each other, enough for me to consider a yearly visit just to savor again.
40-min drive from Roadside Station Noto Chirihama to Oniyuri-no-Sato for NotoNote Cycling bike rentals
NotoNote Cycling’s Hajime Koyama moved to the Noto Peninsula eight years ago from Osaka and decided he could think of nothing better than spending his days taking tourists on bike tours around Notojima Island. Our tour was a leisurely 10km ride and began with a short prayer at the local shrine for a safe return. Hajime is knowledgeable of the local culture and traditions of the island, so, along with the breathtaking views, we were able to get an in-depth understanding of what life is like here.
The Noto area is known for its rice fields’ close proximity to the ocean and over 300 wild vegetables and fruit varieties. With Hajime guiding you to the best places to take in these views, try some fantastic produce along the way. We ended our ride with a drink and sweet snack at a small traditional salt production facility using centuries-old salt-farming techniques, which happens to be next to Hajime’s favorite place to watch the afternoon fade into the night.
55-min drive from Oniyuri-no-Sato to Farmstay Shunran no Sato
Farmstay Shunran no Sato: Stargazing
Our first night was at Farmstay Shunran no Sato, a collection of 47 farmstay accommodation locations run by locals working together to preserve their way of life. At Farmstay Shunran no Sato, guests can enjoy exclusive use of one of the large residences, allowing them to relax and unwind in private. With two spacious bedrooms upstairs and a sumptuous dinner prepared by local retired women who have spent their lives on the peninsula, the large residences at Shunran no Sato offer a comfortable and authentic farmstay experience. After dinner, take a blanket and head outside to lie down under a galaxy of stars. The peninsula has a complete absence of light pollution, giving you ample opportunity to contemplate the beauty of the night sky.
Continue to Day2, Day3.