Nabana-No-Sato Winter Illumination Tours

Following on from the Kobe Luminarie, `Asunaro Tours` is offering trips to Mie Prefecture`s most beautiful winter illumination, Nabana-No-Sato.



Nabana-no-sato Winter Illumination

Tour 1:
Cost: Y5,500
Operation Days:
– December 8,9,15,16,17,21,22,23,24
– January 1,2,3,5,6,12,13,14,19,27
– February 2,3,9,10,11,14,16,17,23,24
– March 1,2,3
Length: 1 day
– Roundtrip bus fare and inter-area bus travel between Kanazawa/Kaga Stations and the light-up area.
– Stop offs at Jazz Dream Outlet Mall (4hours), Nabana-no-sato Winter Illumination (2.5hours, includes entry fee to the Begonia Garden)
Departs: Kanazawa Station West Exit 7:30am (next,Kaga Station)
Returns: Kanazawa Station (last stop via Kaga Station) 23:30

Tour 2:
Cost: Y8480
Operation Days:
– January 19,20,22,26,27,29,31
– February 2,3,6,8,9,10,11
Length: 1 day
– All-you-can-eat lunch at Gamagoori Orange Park (ebi-fry,beef steak,crab,pork shabushabu,kishimen noodles, chirashi-zushi sushi, etc winter`s best foods)
– Nabana-no-sato Winter Illumination (3hours, includes entry fee to the Begonia Garden)
Departs: Kanazawa Station West Exit 8:30am
Returns: Kanazawa Station 23:30 : This tour departs from & arrives at Kanazawa Station only

Again, for bookings and further information, go to your local Hokutetsu Bus office or contact Hokutetsu Koukuu on 076-242-3337. Pamphlets available at Hokutetsu stations and bus offices.

Kobe Luminarie Tours

Winter in Japan = snow. Right?

Wrong. Winter in Japan = snow and illuminations!

Hokutetsu/Komatsu Bus company are offering several great-value day/weekend trips out to some of Japan`s most fantastic illumination events, and it`d be a shame to miss out 🙂 Listed below are the details for the Kobe Luminarie ones:

Kobe Luminarie

Kobe Luminarie

 Kobe Luminarie
By far one of Japan`s most famous illuminations, the Kobe Luminarie is held every year in memorial of the Great Hanshin Earthquake. It is on from December 6 – 17th, 18:00 – 21:00. Expected to be very crowded on weekends in particular, so anticipate queuing and moving around the display in lines on weekends (unfortunately).Tour 1:
Cost: Y4500
Operation Days: Every day from Dec 6th – 17th
Length: 1 day
Includes: Roundtrip bus fare from Kanazawa/Kaga stations to Mitsui Outlet shopping Park, and on to Kobe Luminarie event area.
Departs: 7am Kanazawa Station (West exit) (next,Kaga Station)
Returns: 24:00 Kanazawa Station (last stop,via Kaga Station)
The itinerary is completely free-plan, so you can do your own thing until departure time from the Luminarie 🙂

Tour 2:
Cost: Y16,980
Operation Days: Every day from Dec 7th – 17th
Length: 2 days/1 night
– 1 night`s accommodation for 1/2persons per room at Chisan Hotel Shin-Osaka (9pm-9am, western room,breakfast included)
– Roundtrip and tour bus fares from Kanazawa/Kaga Stations, within Kobe City, Osaka City, and to and from Mie and Aichi prefectures
– Day trip to Kobe Harbourland (free plan exploring), and Kobe Luminarie (free plan)
– Day trip to Aichi & Mie prefectures, Outlet Mall Jazz Dream, and Nabana-no-sato Winter Illumination (entrance fees included, free plan)
Departs: Kanazawa Station West Exit 7:30am (next,Kaga Station)
Returns: Kanazawa Station (last stop) 22:30

For further information, or to book one of these tours, you can go to your local Hokutetsu Bus office, or phone Hokutetsu Koukuu on 076-242-3337. On booking the tour, you will need to pay either 20% of the fee as a deposit, or the whole sum upfront. The pamphlet for these `Asunaro Tours` is available at Hokutetsu Kanzawa Station, and other Hokutetsu stations and bus offices, and it may help to have it on you for simplicity-sake when booking 🙂

In addition, MKBus Tours is offering a rather no-fuss roundtrip tour for Y3800 (excl Y100 donation to the Luminarie), departing December 8,9,15 & 16th from Kanazawa Station West Exit 8am, and returning there at 24:15. See the link below for the bookings procedure (telephone and furikomi):

Senmaida Light Up

The Senmaida (1000 rice fields) Light Up is brightening up Wajima on October 13th (Saturday) this year.

Senmaida lit up at night.

Senmaida is a designated national cultural asset, and is lit up with 30,000 candles every year after the rice cutting. If you’re interested in volunteering to place all those candles, now’s your chance!

Volunteer Deadline: 18 September 2012

Every year, JETs from around Ishikawa volunteer as one of Senmaida’s akaribito–light people–to place and light candles in the rice fields. This year, 350 volunteers are needed, and each will receive a special gift (a tote bag and face towel are shown on the website) as well as something to drink, for their work. The sign up sheets for volunteering can be found here:

Transport to Wajima Michi-no-eki is usually organised amongst volunteering JETs (carpools), or you can make use of the Noto Furusato Ticket for trains as far as Anamizu. For more information on the bus bus from Anamizu to Wajima michi-no-eki here. You could also take a bus to Wajima.

Free shuttle buses to Senmadia will be available from the following locations to transport volunteers: Wajima Michi-no-eki, Wajima Marine Town (14:20), Nafunegyokou (14:35), Sosogi  Furusato Taikenjisshukan and Najimi-kaizen centre (14:20).

Volunteer Schedule:

14:20 – Free shuttle bus for volunteers starts operating
14:50 – All volunteers meet at Senmaida Pocket Park
15:00 – Activity explanation and separation of volunteers into groups
15:20 – Start placing candles
16:30 – short break (each volunteer is given something to drink). The remaining candles etc will be collected, and the volunteers must each take the tools for lighting the candles
16:50 – start lighting candles
17:30 – finish lighting candles, event starts
17:50 – volunteers create a circle with flashlights

Event Schedule

17:00 – UNESCO sites in the Oku-Noto
17:30 – Wajima Wadaiko-toranosuke (wadaiko drum performance)
17:50 – Opening ceremony; volunteers create circle of light
18:30 – Ishikawa-ken Intangible Cultural Asset; Gojinjodaiko taiko drumming
19:10 – Quintet CIRC
19:50 – Yanawaraba mini concert
21:00 – End of event; shuttle buses back to Wajima Michi-no-eki and other designated shuttle bus spots.

Note: For non-volunteers, the shuttle bus is ¥200, and starts operating from 16:00.

Senmaida is truly a beautiful sight, so if you can go or missed out last year, I highly recommend it! 😀

Noto 2-Day Free Pass!

Conveniently in line with festival season, JR West has introduced a new special ticket – the Noto Furusato Free Ticket.


The ticket allows you to travel between the JR area Kanazawa station <-> Wakura Onsen station, and the Noto Tetsudo area of Wakura Onsen station <-> Anamizu station (Nanao <-> Wakura Onsen is also possible on this line) for 2 days as much as you like.

The ticket is only valid for use on normal trains (i.e. Shirasagi, Hokuetsu, and other rapid express trains are out). However, these lines have the most awesome `futsuu-ressha` you`ve ever seen, so you still get to travel in style 😀


Adults Y1500, children Y300.

The ticket is on sale until October 11 2012 (purchasable up until the day before you intend to use it), and usable between July 6 – October 13 2012. Be careful in specifiying your date(s) of travel because these can not be changed once you have bought your ticket.

Extra stuff:

By showing your Noto Furusato ticket at the various tourist attractions (including the Notojima Aquarium) you can receive entrance fee discounts, and various free goodies (ice-cream included!).

The pamphlet for the ticket is available at all major stations and JR offices, and includes a full list of the attractions, their discounts and access methods. There is also a train schedule attached.

Since the Noto will be hosting some of the best festivals this summer, and is a place that is usually a bit difficult to access, this ticket really is a bargain 🙂 So `let`s enjoying` the Noto this summer!:P

Special note about Wajima Taisai transport:

– Using this ticket, you can go as far as Anamizu station. From Anamizu, there is a regular bus that runs between Anamizu station and Wajima station. The last bus on Friday 24/8 is at 19:30 to Wajima station, arriving 20:04. They run from early morning until 19:30, so those of you on holiday can easily go up earlier. The whole journey takes a total of an hour more than the Wajima express bus. You can see the bus timetable here:

Next Weekend: 2012 Iida Toroyama Festival

If you’re looking for something interesting and fun to do next weekend (July 20th and July 21st), why not come up to the Noto and visit Suzu City  for the 2012 Iida Toroyama Festival in Iida Town.

There will be plenty of fun and interesting things to see and do all over Iida Town including various floats, food stalls and fireworks, just to name a few of the activities that you might get to see or try out. Look out for many delicious foods and snacks too!



Friday July 20th 4:30pm to 11:00pm

  • Fireworks start at 8:00pm

Saturday July 21st 12:00pm to 12:00am

  • Festival Floats start at 2:30pm

Where: Ishikawa Prefecture, Suzu city, Iida Town (Japanese: 石川県珠洲市飯田町)

Iida-machi as seen from Google Maps


From Kanazawa by Car:

For scheduling or brochure information in Japanese, please take a look at the following photos:

For more information in Japanese, be sure to check out:

Alex will be a second-year ALT in Suzu. Where’s that you ask? Oh, it’s in the Noto. You know … the place with rice fields … and kiriko. That’s the one.

This Weekend: Toyama Tanabata Craft Beer Festa

Love beer and looking for something to do instead of–or in addition to–the Fire and Violence Festival this weekend? Toyama city hosts an annual Tanabata Craft Beer Festa every July, featuring hard-to-find microbrews from all over Japan–including Ishikawa’s own Nihonkai Club! Over 20 breweries from Hokuriku and beyond will be pouring cold ones Saturday and Sunday, so toss your Asahi aside and hop a northbound train!

The festival operates on a ticket system. You pay for a glass, entry, and a set of 5 or 10 tickets in advance at a conbini (details to follow). Should you want more beer, you can add tickets at the event.


Saturday July 7 from 11:30 to 8:30 and Sunday July 8 from 11:30 to 6:30.

Toyama City, Grand Plaza Ferio.  (Japanese Address 富山市総曲輪フェリオ横広場)

From Toyama Station
Toyama Streetcar:  Loop Line (kanjuu-sen) to Grand Plaza-mae stop. (Japanese: 富山地方鉄道市内電車 環状線
Bus:  Maidohaya Bus Chuo Route, Sougawa Doori Toukengai stop.  (Japanese: まいどはやバス中央ルート
Walking: 20 minutes from the station.

Cost and Ticketing:

You can purchase tickets from most major combini. Event codes are as follows: Lawson L-code 59432, Circle K and 7-11 P-code 987-746. For Family Mart, use e-plus.

Prices are as follows:

Premium handmade glass plus 10 beer tickets.

Original glass plus 10 tickets.

Original glass plus 5 tickets.

Happy Tanabata everyone, and may all your wishes come true!

Lauren is a second-year ALT in Komatsu. Her tanabata wish last year was for a greater variety of beer in her life. She is an editor of this blog.

The 15th Hyokkori Notojima Road Race 2012

The city of Nanao is hosting another road race this summer – theHyokkori Notojima Road Race. Set to be held around none other than the beautiful Wakura Onsen, this promises to be just as scenic and rewarding a race as the Wakura Manyo-No-Sato Marathon in March this year.

While it might seem a ridiculous idea to run a race in summer (because we all know how cold summer is in Japan;) , it ain’t so crazy. Whether you’re in need of an excuse to whip yourself into summer shape, or just want to get out and enjoy some local cuisine and onsens with that Hokuriku Pass of yours, this is a great way to do it.


The event itself is on July 1st (Sunday), held in Nanao City, at the 生涯学習センター (Shougai Gakushuu Centre).

Reception of participants will take place on June 31st (Saturday) from 13:30 – 16:30, and on Sunday July 1st from 7:30 – 8:30am.

The Centre is about a 15 minute car ride or 20 minute bus ride from Wakura Onsen station. There will be free shuttle buses operating from the station to the Centre on the day, however.


Applications must be sent in via post office furikomi forms, or you can enter online at (or any other Japanese running site) by simply signing up (free and easy) here:

And going to the race page here, and clicking the blue エントリー button:

All entries must be in by 21st May 2012. Both race events cost Y3000. For online entries, you can choose to pay via convenience store machine, or credit card. Postal entries are cash only.

After your application has been received, you will receive your participant information packet in the mail in mid-June. Please be sure to take all of this with you, as you will need it to sign in at reception on the day.


There are 10km and half marathon (21km) events, both of which seem to start at 9am.

The maximum time for each is 3 hours and 4 hours respectively, with the race courses having some minor inclines and declines. Although rainy weather is predicted for the event day, there are more refreshment and aid stations than usual along both race courses due to the heat.

What’s In It For Me?

Each participant will receive an event T-shirt (size selectable at the time of application), sports drinks, pork miso soup, onigiri, and a discounted onsen ticket after the race.

While the distances may seem too long for a casual summer jog, this is by no means an event for marathon pros. As a participant in the Manyo-No-Sato Marathon, I can attest to just how friendly and extremely supportive the locals of Nanao are to the runners. The local food stalls are also drool-worthy. It really is an awesome vibe! So even if you don’t want to run, it’d be well worth going up to Nanao to join in the support party!

So why not dust off your running shoes, grab yourself that Hokuriku Pass, and stride into summer? And hey, who doesn’t like a free T-shirt? 😛

Kaga Fruitland

Just the words ‘spring in Japan’ immediately bring to mind images of cherry blossoms and hanami parties. Strawberries definitely do not feature. But, oh, how they should.

If anyone knows how to make the best of each season, it’s the Japanese. Kaga Fruitland does just this by offering seasonal fruit picking and eating of different fruits over a period of several months at a time.

Spring just happens to be the season for strawberries (November through May), and for roughly Y1000-2000 (depending on the month), you can spend a juicy hour doing all-you-can-pick-and-eat ichigo-gari (strawberry picking). And get this, you are even allowed to bring a sneaky topping of your own (cue mad rush for whipped cream).

It really is a bargain considering the price of just a handful of fruit in the supermarkets!

Besides leaving with a stomach full of fresh fruit, another advantage to Fruitland is that it can be done in the rain too, since the fruit are housed in small greenhouses.

Other fruits ripe for the picking are:

  • Cherries (June)
  • Blueberries (June – July)
  • Grapes (July – November)
  • Pears (August – September)
  • Apples (October – December)

There is also the option of combining your fruit picking trip with a BBQ package, starting at around Y1600 per person (in addition to the cost of fruit picking), or if you’ve got a sweet tooth, you can try out Fruitland’s hour-long chocolate fondu fruit buffet for Y1500 per person (drinks bar & tartlet included).

For fruit picking and BBQ courses, due to popularity reservations are sometimes required. You can use the online reservation form link at the bottom of this post. In general, it seems that fruit picking can be done every hour from 10am until 4pm, and BBQing from 11am – 5pm. Reception is open from 9am – 5pm.

Having been to Fruitland myself recently, I can honestly say that it makes for a very, berry 😉 nice day!


By car from Kanazawa: 15-20mins. Turn right off Katayamazu IC, over Shiomibashi, right at the first four-way intersection, left at Hashidate intersection, straight through Koshio intersection, and Kaga Fruitland is on your right.

By CAN Bus: 25mins, Y1000 for a 1-day pass. Take the Sea Route (umi-mawari) bus from Kagaonsen or Daishoji station, and get off at the Kaga Fruitland stop. Once at Fruitland, go in and pay at reception, and wait outside the front entrance for a bus (appropriately decorated with pictures of fruit) to transport you to the greenhouses.

Useful Links:

Kaga Fruitland (Japanese) for prices (料金表) for the online reservation form.

Kaga CAN Bus: (See 時刻表 link for bus timetables)