6 days in Ishikawa Prefecture, Japan - Part 2

Pippa Wilson on 01 December 2023

Day 4 in Ishikawa Site inspection first thing at the Sainoniwa hotel in Kanazawa. The bus took us to the Samurai district where we perused the streets of this extremely affluent area and picked up some souvenirs from the local shops. Heading north from Kanazawa we ran along the coast and moved up the Noto peninsular where the country side was green and lush. We visited a washi paper maker who showed us his craft and helped us all to make some paper. It is made from the fibres of the mulberry plant soaked in clear river water, thickened with grated yam and then filtered through a bamboo screen. We collected some natural items for decoration. Further along the peninsula we stopped at some strikingly beautiful rice terraces overlooking the Sea of Japan Shiroyone Senmaida is a scenic hillside of tiered rice paddies. Checking in to our accommodation we were thrilled to learn we were staying in a traditional Japanese Ryoken. We were asked to remove our shoes, something we’ve become very used to on entering a building where the flooring is tatami (a Japanese floor mat) and were then fitted with a Yukata, a light cotton kimono used for relaxation. My room was huge, spacious with a sea view and very minimalistic. There was no bed as the table is pushed aside and a futon made up while we had dinner.

Like last nights hotel, this Ryoken also had public baths and these are from natural hot springs. There are separate baths for men and women and clothing is not allowed as they deem swiwear unsanitary. You wash before entering the water. Another feast for supper and this was a traditional kaiseki dinner, a multi course Japanese style haute cuisine and definitely had a more traditional feel than on previous evenings. On returning to my room, my futon was all ready for me ?? Day 5 in Ishikawa My futon proved to be incredibly comfortable at the Noto No Sho hotel and the bean pillows too were such a surprise. No neck pain for me this morning. The full Ryokan experience was culminated by a kaiseki breakfast before we departed. First stop was at Wajima where we were introduced to the manufacturing process of laquerware, the beautiful crockery that we had dined from on multiple occasions. Such a painstaking process with 124 different steps as the wood is so thin and fragile. The laquer is made from the sap of the laquer tree and each tree can produce up to 200g. Once the sap is collected the tree dies and it takes 20 years for a tree to grow to adult hood. Later than morning we visited a farm and met Roy Yamamoto and his 89 yr old assistant. We experienced the field to table concept, helping harvest the crop and pick the Yuzu fruit before being treated to a dining extravaganza for lunch and dined on the food we had collected. After a site inspection at the luxury Hotel Hyakurakusou overlooking the sea and with a fabulous cave bar, we headed over to Noto Isla Our final hotel on the Noto Peninsula was the Hitotsu Notijima, a luxury boutique hotel with just 8 rooms which had only opened in September. We had the whole hotel to ourselves. Some rooms had private saunas and there was a central spa with large sauna and a hot and cold outdoor pool. No swimwear here and as it was dark we had no idea what the hotel overlooked so we were hoping any passing fishermen might avert their eyes. Supper tonight was sushi and I lost count of the dishes we were presented with. All beautiful presented, made in front of us as we sat and was a wonderful experience to end the day. Day six, I woke at 4:30 so decided to set up my tripod and capture the sunrise on a Timelapse. it was truly the best hotel room view I think I’ve ever had. (See reel) As the sun rose, I retreated to my bathroom to soak in my huge tub with some sort of mineral filled tea bag in the water. Breakfast was another sumptuous feast and we hit the road after being waved off by the staff. A very Japanese thing and is so lovely when they all do double handed waves.

As we drove away from the hotel and from Noto Island we caught a glimpse of a pod of dolphins playing in the bay so stopped to watch them. They were so beautiful.

The Oku-Noto art Triennial 2023 has just concluded and so we had some private viewings lined up of some of the art pieces. The first was an incredible web of red wool reminiscent of bodily veins containing over 80km of wool. Constructed by Chiharu Shots, the structure took over 6 months to construct. We stopped to view a couple of other art pieces by Russian and British artists as we headed up the Noto Peninsula and as we reached the top we visited a wonderful sea front hotel called Lamp No Yada. Accessed only by a very steep path, the 444 year old hotel has only 14 rooms and is managed by the 14th generation of the original owners. A traditional Ryokan with natural Onsen (hot springs) many of the rooms have private baths and the public ones were lovely too. The hotel is right on the rocks and all rooms have very private sea views allowing the privacy of Japanese style onsen (ie, swimwear is not allowed as deemed unsanitary!) perfect honeymoon destination.

We could see the huge mountains across the water, as we headed to Noto airport for a quick hop to Tokyo.

Our last night as a group, we checked into the Villa Fontaine at terminal 3 for our final night. We walked into the terminal and ate at Tsurutontan noodle restaurant before saying our final goodbyes.

They are a lovely bunch of young professional women, I’ve very much enjoyed their company and learned so much from them and have thoroughly fallen in love with Japan.

I will also very much miss the toilets…..