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.
Okunoto 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!
Suzu's crowning glory: Tarumi Waterfall gushes straight into the Sea of Japan
Tarumi Waterfall is an unusual waterfall because it runs from a cliff directly into the sea. Rounded stones and pebbles are formed in the area due to years of water gushing through them, and the sound the stones make as they hit each other makes a soothing elemental ambience.
Tarumi Waterfall is definitely something you want to see up-close. In summer, you can dip your feet in to cool down and shower with negative ions (creating good vibes). In winter, however, the wind in Maura coming from the sea is fierce - and it's perfect. The fierce wind pushes the waterfall upwards, making it look like a water dragon rising from its slumber.
Tarumi Waterfall is on the left just after you get through the tunnel, so don't miss it! The place is as magical as I described thus far... the only thing sad is the trash floating on the coast and through the waterfall.
・Where: Maura, Suzu City, Ishikawa Prefecture
The view the beckons people to Noto
Another cool spot is the "Godzilla Rock." As the name suggests, its shape looks like Japan's famous monster Godzilla.
・Where: Mabuchi, Suzu City, Ishikawa Prefecture 927-1304
Towards the side of Godzilla Rock is the observation deck Tsubaki Overlook.
The view from Tsubaki Overlook gives you the feeling that you're now really in Noto. It's an awesome feeling that's hard to describe with words.
・Where: Takaya, Suzu City, Ishikawa Prefecture 927-1301
Lunchtime is pure Heaven...
Finally, here comes the best part. Park your car at Tsubaki Overlook and cross the street towards Tsubaki Jaya Café.
Tsubaki Jaya Café is an ama diver's restaurant with a dynamic ambience. Satsuki, the ama diver herself gets the food that she serves from the sea. The menu includes "Demakase Value Meal," "Squid Value Meal," and "Buri-Over-Rice.”
If you're not in a rush (and you shouldn't be), lose all your shyness and have an unabashed conversation with Satsuki in a true ama diver style for a remarkably unforgettable Noto experience. This location is also the set used in the famous Japanese drama "The Furthest End Awaits" with Hiromi Nagasaku and Nozomi Sasaki. And not to mention, this place is a mecca for car campers.
<Tsubaki Jaya Café>
・ Where: 1-3-1 Oritocho, Suzu City, Ishikawa Prefecture
・ Contact: +81-768-86-2059
・ Hours: 10:00 - 16:00
・ Holiday: Irregular (Closed in winter)
Lunch Spot #2: Immaculate Noto curry…
Tsubaki Jaya Café is without a doubt as Noto as food gets. But I would consider it a sin not to mention the curry shop "Ikanatete" just across the street, right next to the Roadside Station Noroshi.
Ikanatete is a curry shop that's also a rare record shop, and their chicken curry is immaculate!
This shop is run by Akirahito Itoya with his family after moving back to his hometown. Sometimes you can hear conversations among the family members, making this place even more endearing. Plus the high ceiling and space almost remind you of a quaint church.
In winter, they light a fire in the wood burner, creating a warm and cozy atmosphere. They do close down for a little bit in winter but they're generally open in all seasons. And perhaps the best part is the fact that they invite "uncountryish" bands/musicians to play here. Definitely a badass record shop right there.
Photo: Matsumoto Zoku performing a mix of didgeridoo, handpan, and human beatbox. They perform locally and internationally, and awed everyone at Ikanatete in 2018. It's not an exaggeration to say that Ikanatete is Okunoto's #1 live music café!
・ Where: 70-1 Noroshi, Suzu City, Ishikawa Prefecture
・ Contact: +81-90-8051-0625
・ Hours: 11: 00 - 17: 00
・ Holiday: Every Wednesday (Closed some time in winter)
Wasn't that amazing? Gong to Okunoto is like stepping into another world away from Japan. There is literally so much to say about Suzu that I have to invite you to my next article.