I first visited the small town of Wajima (輪島) on the Noto Peninsula (能登半島) while on a bike packing trip back in 2015. Protruding out into the Sea of Japan on the Hokuriku coast (北陸), the Noto Peninsula is one of my favourite places in Japan, and one that has been regularly visited since that first trip.
Anyone subscribed to my newsletter will be aware that we recently went on a short ‘road’ trip as a family for the first time – first to Lake Katsura on the border of Toyama and Gifu prefectures (Lake Katsura incidentally serving as a base camp for a number of Tokyo 2020 Olympic rowing teams, although they’d long departed after we arrived) – and then the main destination, Wajima.
Lake Katsura on the Gifu – Toyama border
Wajima is a sleepy coastal town at the best of times but even more so due to the pandemic.
What did we do in Wajima? Not that much to be honest but that was the whole point. We visited the ‘famous’ but hugely disappointing Senmaida Rice Terrace, the morning market where we bought fresh fish and had it grilled in a local restaurant (absolutely delicious!), and for most of the time, the beach. This was the first time our daughter actually enjoyed being in the sea, which is fitting as the kanji for her name roughly translated as ‘a love of the ocean’.
The morning market left me with mixed feelings with some of the stall owners openly complaining about the shortage of visitors due to the pandemic. Their livelihoods depend on tourism and the lack of tourists seem to have hit them badly. But as with trips earlier in the year to Magome and Tsumago, as well as Kyoto late last year, as visitors the lack of other tourists was a blessing.
Wajima morning market
If you’re in Japan and haven’t made it to the Noto Peninsula I highly recommend it. I’ve only ever been there in summer but always find myself wondering what it would be like in winter covered in snow.