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Hokuriku: Ishikawa and Toyama

No blog on Japan would be complete without some information on Hokuriku, so in a two-part post I will introduce a little about Ishikawa Prefecture first and then Toyama Prefecture second.  The last time I explored this part of Japan was  several years ago when I did not have much time, and Ishikawa and Toyama were just along the way to our destination in Gifu.   That time was by my car with my twin flame and that adventure was epic.   It's good to start from the Noto Peninsula and work your way around the coastline on route 249 first.   A great feature is the beach driveways along with traditional Japanese landscapes!   Imagine driving your car across the sandy beach right up next to the ocean and feeling the sea breeze through your window...  Or maybe like many locals who have tailgate parties every weekend and beach parties.  Your car is there with you, your beer, and your friends.

Noto Peninsula is the piece of land jutting out into the Sea of Japan.  Wajima and Suzu area.

The things to remember before coming to this part of Japan is the water, sake, breweries, food, convenience stores, parks, and so much more.   When and if you come up this way you need a week to really enjoy the area.   Click on the words that are highlighted and read up on the different foods and products I personally wrote up.

This time around I was not driving, I took a highway taxi mini-bus.   This was great cause I could enjoy drinking the local sake  with my favorite sake cup made from earthenware sourced from Suzu City.  Some experts claim that the wine glass is better for capturing the aroma and taste of sake while others claim the small earthenware sake cups capture the tradition and feel of the sake.  For me, I use both because the pottery feels good in the hands and it maintains the temperature quite nicely.  Glasses are nice but are too inconvenient to carry around.   You never know when and where your next sip will be, so better to be prepared.

My destination was a sake camp in the deep north of Suzu.    Toiling away in the field growing world-class sake rice is something I do every year, and love it.  I like being part of the process of making great sake and meeting new people.   I love tasting the finished product, too.

As you wind your way round the peninsula  your eyes will be blessed with beauty, not only scenic beauty of the ocean and beaches, but the beauty of audio sounds produced by the tire friction created by your car.   Welcome to Mare-Road!   This is how you know you have entered the deep north of Noto.

The music your hear from your tires is from a famous T.V. drama here:

Construction workers put grooves into the roads so that your tire's  friction create the sounds in the music.

Another reason for creating this small stretch of highway is to keep drivers awake at night and to warn drivers that their speed should remain under 70 km/h!    Truly  a marvel of road construction.

All of Ishikawa is blessed with great rice and beautiful nature.  Upon arriving on site I inspected the rice that will be planted.

Ishikawa develops and makes its own rice varietals depending on what it is used for and what brewery is making their sake with.    Rice planting is fun work!

Normally,  you pinch off two or three stalk then push them into the soil by hand in even rows two by two.
The work is funner barefoot, especially if you don't mind stepping on millions of little tadpoles under your feet.  Wearing boots just makes the work harder, or you can use the tools below.

People who eat together work better together.  The food for lunch was amazing!   Rice wrapped in leaves and deep fried tempura and all kinds of assorted mountain vegetables was amazing.  

The dinner party that night was even more amazing, but to keep this post on point I won't blog about it.  Everybody here are locals except for some of us.  The thing to remember up this far north in Ishikawa is that the soul of Japan is not just a soul of Japan.  We are group thinkers.  Each and every individual in Japan works for the collective greater good of the other.   We serve each other and ourselves last, as with the pouring of sake and food.   Check out the deep links above and follow it up back to this post.


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