Some trips beg to cram as many sights into as few days as possible. Sometimes, though, it’s nice to sloooowwww it down and really take your time exploring a place. Get to third base with one place instead of playing the field, so to speak. Japan’s Noto Peninsula is just such a place, worthy of an entire week of dedicated exploration rather than a fly-by en route to Tokyo en route to wherever. Here’s how we’d make a week of it.
Day 1: You’ll likely arrive in Japan via Tokyo, and as luck would have it, the trek from Tokyo to Noto isn’t too shabby and makes for a great first day of your trip. There are a few different train routes you can choose, carrying you three-to-four hours across typically Japanese landscape including rugged coastline, rice paddies, towns and farmland.
Eat: At the Heidee Winery
Day 2: Make your home-for-the-day in the town of Wajima, where the asaichi (morning market) serves as a well-known gathering point where you can find everything from lacquerware to sake to fresh fish to vegetables from local gardens. A popular highlight of the market is the line of fish-mongers; think Seattle’s Pike Place Market but with elderly Japanese women in rubber boots instead of grizzly seamen. Wander the market, stock up on snacks for your week and gifts to bring home.
Buy: A traditional piece of lacquerware
Day 3: Head to the northernmost tip of the peninsula for a day on the sea. After you’ve wandered and strolled and basked in the Japanese sun (yes we know it’s the same sun as everywhere else but you know what we mean), head to the Skybird, a mid-air lookout located in the Sanctuary Cape.
Treat Yo-Self: To a soak in the Hot Springs
Day 4: After a scenic drive through nearby fishing villages, forests, and pastoral landscapes, get boozey and head to Matsunami Sake Brewery. The quaint fifth generation brewery includes a gift shop where you can pick up unique liquors like permission sake (kaki-sake), which can be guzzled like your favorite wine cooler (less recommended), or poured over ice cream for a sake float (more recommended).
Drink: All the sake
Day 5: Make your mother proud and check out the Kenroku-en gardens, which took the ruling Maeda family a casual two centuries to create. The name Kenrokuen literally means “Garden of the Six Sublimities”, referring to spaciousness, seclusion, artificiality, antiquity, abundant water and broad views, which according to Chinese landscape theory are the six essential attributes that make up a perfect garden (and you thought all you had to do was keep the plants alive).
Go in the Fall: To get some Autumn color therapy
Day 6: Be a legit tourist and spend the day at 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art where you can, you know, enjoy the art. Alongside rotating special exhibits, the museum will blow your mind with a trippy swimming pool and a grown up game of outdoor tuba phone, among other things.
Eat your vegetables: At Cafe Restaurant Fusion21
Day 7: Plan your route to the airport to include a stop at Kakusenkei Gorge, situated along the Daijoji river between Kurotani bridge and Korogi bridge on a 1.3km road that’s perfect for one last shakeout before you’re homeward bound.
Don’t Forget: To check into your flight!