Oku Noto sits at the tip of Noto Peninsula. A road trip haven deep in the countryside where you can hang loose and let time slip by.
Oku Noto region consists of two towns (Anamizu and Noto) and two small cities (Wajima and Suzu) in the northernmost tip of Ishikawa Prefecture. For most people, Kanazawa comes to mind when you say Ishikawa, but there is actually another world deep in the prefecture that's bursting to the seams with awesomeness.
From Anamizu to Wajima
I suggest leaving "Inaka Backpacker House" by 9:00 AM and taking your time driving around Okunoto for half a day.
A lot of people suggest going counter clock-wise from Inaka Backpacker House towards Noto, but I disagree. I think it's way better to go north to Wajima first before heading down to the tip of the peninsula and drive along the sea. If you're going to drive in Okunoto, might as well drive with a view of the sea!
Wajima usually reminds people of the morning market, native lacquerware, and Senmaida Rice Terraces, but NHK also introduced salt ponds and Magaki no Sato when they covered Wajima in their morning TV series Mareh ("Extraordinary") in 2015. Let's go to Osawa, the actual site where they filmed that episode. (Location: Osawa, Wajima City, Ishikawa Prefecture)
A traditional Japanese village. Osawa village is known as Magaki no Sato or "Bamboo-Fence Village." The bamboo fencings are about 3 meters high and meant to protect the houses from the strong winds coming from the sea, but they also prove indispensable for the locals during summers as they provide shade from the sun.
If you drive up to the Osawa mountain, you'll eventually run through a lush forest called Okedaki no Mori ("Okedaki Waterfall Forest") with a footpath leading to the waterfall. Its soft gushing water drops 30 meters from a hole in a big rock and flows out of the chamber in three wide steps, creating an idyllic lullaby that resonates throughout the silent forest. This spectacular natural formation is a rare sight in Japan and truly is impressive. (Location: Osawa, Wajima City, Ishikawa Prefecture)
After Osawa, we're going to the morning market.
Towards Wajima's famous morning market
The morning market is perhaps the most famous thing about Wajima. You can find all kinds of fresh seafood, farmed vegetables, and traditional crafts like Wajima lacquerware. This is the perfect place to go shopping for your dinner later.
Lots of stalls line the streets of the morning market where most vendors are friendly local women. The atmosphere makes for an interesting experience even if you're just window shopping.
<Wajima Morning Market>
Location: Kawai, Wajima City, Ishikawa Prefecture
Contact: Wajima Morning Market Association / +81-768-22-7653 (morning only)
Hours: 8:00 AM - 12:00 PM
Closed: 2nd and 4th Wed of every month, Jan 1-3
Next stop is at Shiroyone Senmaida Rice Terraces
Other awesome souvenirs include wakame and mekabu seaweeds, rock paste, and dried fish. I also highly recommend grilled "Hoka Hoka" red snapper with yomogi (a Japanese herb).
<Senmaida Pocket Park Roadside Station>
Location: 8-99-5 Shiroyonemachi, Wajima, Ishikawa Prefecture
Hours: 8:00 AM - 8:00 PM daily (Rest House)
Now on to Noto Peninsula's Wajima Salt Farm "Wajimashio"
<Wajima Salt Farm "Wajimashio">
Location: 8-17-2 Okawa, Machinomachi, Wajima, Ishikawa Prefecture
Hours: 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM (daily in Mar-Nov, only weekends and holidays in Dec-Feb)