Noto 2-Day Free Pass!

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

What:

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 😀

Cost:

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:

http://www.hokutetsu.co.jp/htd_hp/timetable/rosen/0960_1_1_01.html

This Week: Wajima Taisai August 22nd-25th

Salutations! I hope this post reaches you in good and pleasant spirits. I’m writing to tell you about an amazing festival that is taking place this week in the Noto!

“Where is the Noto?”, you might ask. The Noto is the northern half of the Ishikawa prefecture. The Noto is split up into 3 sections: Kuchi-Noto (Entrance of Noto), Naka-Noto (Middle of Noto), and Oku-Noto (Depths of Noto). 

One of the biggest reasons to come to the Noto is the massive festivals that take place throughout it. In fact, if you have free time or cultural furlough this week, I’d recommend that you come to Wajima for the Wajima Taisai. As one of the premiere festivals of the Oku-Noto, you can count on having large amounts of merriment and long lasting memories. The festival comes highly recommended and is a must see event for JETs and visitors to Ishikawa. 

Where:

Times and Locations:
 
The Festival is a combination of the festivals of four different shrines in Wajima in the towns of:
Ama-machi (海士町): Aug. 22 (Wednesday) 16:00 – 23:00
Kawai-machi (河井町): Aug. 23 (Thursday) 15:00 – 24:00
Fugeshi-machi (鳳至町): Aug. 24 (Friday) 8:00 – 24:00
Wajimazaki-machi (輪島崎町): Aug. 25 (Saturday) 8:00 – 11:00

Resident Expert Tip #1: The festival starts getting exciting after 8:00pm
Resident Expert Tip #2: Find a Kiriko Team, follow them and you’re bound to have fun.

Highlights of Wajima Taisai:

  • One of the main highlights of Noto festivals are Kiriko. Imagine if you will, 10 meter tall lanterns that tower over you and are carried by at least 20 to 30 strapping men (and women!). On these lanterns are children or adults playing flutes or taiko drums, filling the narrow road that you’re on with merrymaking and sonorous booming. Oftentimes, it’s not unheard of to be pressed up against a wall in a narrow street while Kiriko make their way through or to be drafted into service of carrying a kirko with a celebratory swig of Shochu or Sake.
    Note 1: 8-23, Thurs: Groups of Kiriko will gather near the ocean, have a parade and burn tall stalks of bamboo.
    Note 2:  8-24, Friday: Many of the Kiriko traversing Wajima will spin madly at intersections with an ‘insane amount of vigor’, definitely a sight to see or experience.
    Note 3: Wajima’s festival Kiriko are especially distinctive (as compared with those in the other parts of the Noto) because of their famous Wajima lacquer coatings that are applied to the Kiriko.
  • Portable shrines called ‘omikoshi’ are carried through the town streets. With them comes the good natured and well known revelry that makes Wajima Taisai a famous and memorable event.
    Note: ‘Omikoshi’ carrying takes place every night of the festival.
  • On the first night (Wed, 8-22) you can see one of Japan’s best youth taiko groups perform, Yoranosuke. They usually perform right before the sunset. It’s best to show up around 5:30pm-6:00pm.
  • On the the last two nights of the festival (Friday, 8-24 and Saturday, 8-25), a special tall bamboo bonfire by the sea is lit, and Gohei (decorative strips of white paper used in Shinto rituals) that fall from the top of the structure are scrambled for by brave men wearing loincloths. It is believed that the person who catches a Gohei strip will achieve success in everything he does. It’s not rare for men to scramble into the burning embers of a just burned tower to grab a strip at a chance of wealth and good fortune.

If you’d like to forge your own path in terms of festival planning, make sure to take a peek at the Wajima Taisai event page: http://www.city.wajima.ishikawa.jp/kanko2/maturi/taisai.html
 
 
Transportation:
 
Depending on where you’re coming from, it’s quite easy to get to Wajima.
 
By Bus from Kanazawa:
Ø  Buses leave for Wajima from Kanazawa station roughly once every hour throughout the day, 7 days a week, from PLATFORM 1 from the East Exit (the main exit with the big wooden gate).  It takes 2 hours each way and costs 2200 yen one way (3950 yen round trip, if you purchase beforehand in the Station).  Pay when you get off in Wajima. 
Ø  Bus times from Kanazawa Station Platform 1 to Wajima: 7:20, 8:50, 10:00, 12:35, 13:35, 14:35, 15:35, 16:35, 17:35, 18:35, 20:10
Ø  Bus times from Wajima to Kanazawa Station Platform 1: 5:35, 6:40, 8:10, 9:10, 10:10, 11:10, 12:10, 14:00, 15:30, 16:40, 18:10
 
By Car from Kanazawa, Nanao, Anamizu, Tsubata, etc:
If you’re going by car, just take the Noto Yuryo toll road. Make sure to take the Anamizu Exit on the Yuryo and at the first intersection, take a left and then follow the road signs to Wajima (they’re all in English, so you shouldn’t get lost). The tolls from Kanazawa to Wajima cost about 1600 yen round trip (it’s much cheaper if you’re coming from anywhere in the Noto), so I suggest carpooling with some buds to keep costs down.  There is plenty of free parking at the Wajima Station.

Once again, for more information make sure to take a peek at the Wajima Taisai event page: http://www.city.wajima.ishikawa.jp/kanko2/maturi/taisai.html

Please come out and partake in the festivities, if you can!  It’s a great primer for Ishikawa’s festivals and also an excellent break from life at school or your BoE.
 
Happy Travels!

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.

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!

INFORMATION:

When:

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

Transportation:

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: http://bunanomori.com/toroyama/

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.

INFORMATION:

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

Where:
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
『グランドプラザ前』下車前)
Bus:  Maidohaya Bus Chuo Route, Sougawa Doori Toukengai stop.  (Japanese: まいどはやバス中央ルート
『総曲輪通り商店街口』)
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:

★プレミアム手作りグラス付10枚券引換券(3,700円)
Premium handmade glass plus 10 beer tickets.

★オリジナルグラス付10枚券(3,600円)
Original glass plus 10 tickets.

★オリジナルグラス付5枚券(2,200円)
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.

Boom! Hanabi Season Is Upon Us!

Summer in Japan just wouldn`t be complete without hanabi-taikai (firework shows)!

I recently got hold of this year`s lineup of events, so here you go! 🙂

The Hokkoku Hanabi 2012:

  • 20/7: Suzu-shi, Iida Port, 8pm start
  • 22/7: Nanao-shi, Fuchuu Town pier, 8:30pm start
  • 22/7: Anamizu Town, Anamizu Harbour, 9:30pm start
  • 26/7: Komatsu City, around the cemetary, 8:10pm start
  • 28/7: Kanazawa City, Saigawa River, 7:45pm start
  • 28/7: Uchinada Town, Community Ground area, 9pm start
  • 29/7: Shika Town, Michi-no-Eki Korogaki-no-sato shika area, 8:40pm
  • 4/8: Kawakita Town, Tedorigawa dry riverbed, 8:10pm start
  • 12/8: Hakusan City, Deaimachi, 8:30pm start
  • 14/8: Nanao City, Sazaanami Town Fishing Harbour, 8:30pm start
  • 21/8: Kaga City, Katayamazu Onsen Shibayamagata Lake, 9pm start
  • 28/8: Kaga City, Iburibashi, 9pm start
  • 8/9: Kaga City, Daishouji, Kaga Taiikukan area, 9pm start
  • 16/9: Kanazawa City, Ougidai, 8:30pm start

Enjoy! 😀

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.

When?

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.

How?

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

http://runnet.jp/member/regist/kiyaku.html

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

http://runnet.jp/runtes/raceDetail/top/m58917.html

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.

What?

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? 😛

Otabi Matsuri 2012

What’s better than festival floats? Elementary school kids decked out in full kabuki gear performing short plays on festival floats, of course! This weekend is Komatsu’s famous Otabi Matsuri, a celebration of Komatsu’s local history and culture. If you’re curious about kabuki but are intimidated by formal performances, this is a great chance to see short performances in a casual atmosphere (with festival food).

From My Japan Travel Guide

Hikiyama floats from the eight central towns will be on display throughout downtown Komatsu all day. The floats in Nishi-machi and Muraki-machi will host hour-long Kabuki shows twice during the afternoon. At around 4:30, all eight floats will be carried to a central location and lit up for two evening performances.  On Saturday, the first evening performance begins at 6:00. To get there, just take a right coming out of the station–the main gathering of floats will be at the intersection of the 305 and the station road.

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