The Shiramine Snowman Festival on Jan. 27 and Feb. 3

Snowmen at the Shiramine Snowman Festival are illuminated by candlelight at night. The process used to keep the snowmen from melting is a town secret.

The annual Shiramine Snowman Festival will be held again on Jan. 27 and Feb. 3. This festival features hundreds of snowmen constructed by the townspeople that are illuminated at night using a special lighting method that is a well-kept town secret. This is a great way to escape the Ishikawa winter blues because no one can possibly be sad when surrounded by hundreds of adorable snowmen. The festival lasts from 3 – 9 p.m.

It’s easiest to get to the festival if you have a car. If you live near Kanazawa or Hakusan, you can make it to the festival with plenty of time if you leave right after work. A Google Map of Shiramine can be found here for those wanting directions. For those interested in attending the Jan. 27 festival, there will be a free shuttle bus from the parking lots to Kuwajima. If you don’t have a car there are shuttle buses leaving from Kanazawa Station at 3 p.m. on both days. A round-trip ticket is ¥2000. Also, see the jump below for an English tour with limited availability.

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Ishikawa’s Must-See Fall Spots

The fall scenery at Natadera Temple in Komatsu.

Fall is here and Japan – never wanting to miss an opportunity to admire nature – is getting ready for the changing of the leaves. Going to a great 紅葉 spot is THE fall outing. So grab some friends, get a car (most of these locations are only accessible via car), make sure your camera has a fully charged battery and get to admiring those leaves.

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Restaurant Review: Mokuyuurin

First of all, congratulations to the Ishikawa JET Kitchen crew on the completion of an excellent resource. Whether you’re a culinary nerd or just setting out to cook on your own for the first time, I highly recommend having this recipe collection on hand.

Last Saturday's special (one of four) at Mokuyuurin: Pesto pizza with eggplant and okra.

Looking to get out of your kitchen for a delicious meal made with fresh ingredients? Hoping for a jaunt out of the city? Consider visiting Tsurugi in Hakusan City, home of Mokuyuurin.  Here you can find pasta, risotto and pizza, prepared with fresh local vegetables.  Sit at the counter on the second story to watch seasoned pizza chefs at work at a pair of handsome brick ovens below. Or sit at one of the large wooden tables located along the expansive staircase, where giant windows open onto the green of the forests outside. Expect to pay somewhere between 800 and 1400 yen for a meal. I recommend the sets – for 1380 yen you can enjoy salad, dessert and a drink in addition to the seasonal special of your choice.

Wooden architecture, huge windows, natural light and a wide open atmosphere make Mokuyuurin the perfect place to spend a quiet, rainy afternoon.

If you have time, be sure to stroll through the store up the walkway to the left. While craftsman wooden tables and chairs may be out of your price range, the young and young at heart will enjoy the extensive collection of wooden toys from around the world. And don’t forget to pick up some cedar wood chips. Kept in your drawers or closets, the fragrant scraps will help keep your clothes smelling fresh throughout the long, damp Hokuriku winter. Outside of the Mokuyuurin complex, you can stroll through Shishiku Park to the World Shishi Museum (an impression collection of shishi masks used in festivals all over Asia – admission is free!) or down the street to Shirahime Jinja, one of Ishikawa’s most renound Shinto shrines.

For more information, check out the full review, or look below.

More Information

もく遊りん食工房(Mokuyuurin Shoku Koubou)

Hours (April through December) 11:00~22:00 [last order 21:00]

Winter Hours (January through March) 11:00~21:00 [last order 20:00]

(Closed Tuesdays, and weekdays from 15:00 through 17:00)

Phone number 076-273-9501

Address 石川県白山市八幡町リ−1−6


Getting there (by train): Take the Hokutetsu Line (located across the parking lot from Nishi Kanazawa Station) to Tsurugi Station. Mokuyuurin is approximately a 30 minute walk from the station – take your time, and a map.

(by car, from Kanazawa): Head South on Highway 8, through Nonoichi. Take a left onto Highway 157. After about 10 kilometers, turn left at the 水戸町 intersection. Continue across the river to the next light, then turn right at the 新町 intersection onto 179. After approximately one kilometer, turn left across from Kaga Ichinomiya (加賀一の宮) Station (no longer in operation – but this should be the only large, T-shaped intersection in the area. Anyone with better directions is encouraged to contribute). Follow this road straight through the next light (the 八幡町 intersection), through residential areas until you run straight into the Shishi World Museum (a large building with a tiled roof and a long staircase running straight down to the road). Turn left here, and continue for about 130 meters. Mokuyuurin will be on your right – the next wooden building with a large parking lot. The restaurant is located up the front stairway, through the door to the left.

Spring Hakusan Super Rindo Walk 2011

This guest post is by Megan Lam, ALT.

Image from the Super Rindo website.

Every year the Super Rindo toll road, which runs from Ishikawa to Gifu, is closed off one weekend so that the public can walk on the roads. It becomes a beautiful trail with a lot of picturesque stops along the way–streams, waterfalls, foot onsens, etc. The scenic walk is about 15.5km, or however far you choose to walk.

This year the event will be held on the weekend of June 11th and June 12th. There’s a 1,500 yen entry fee per person and the Super Rindo will be open from 8:30-16:00 on both days. Anyone can pay on the day of at the Ichirino Ski area.

Those who will be driving can park there for free and then take a free shuttle up to the starting point. For those without a car, you can reserve a bus in advance from Kanazawa or Komatsu for 1000 yen return trip.

What: Super Rindo Walk

When: June 11th or June 12th, 8:00-16:00

Where: Starting point is Ichirino (一里野) in Hakusan

Price: 1,500 yen per person (Payable on the day of the event) (The price is reduced to 300 yen for guests staying at the hotels of the Hakusan Onsen Village  [白山温泉郷]).

Access: Drivers can park at the Ichirino Ski area for free and then take a free shuttle up to the trail.

Buses are available from Kanazawa Station or Komatsu Station, but reservations are required in advance. From both stations the price is 1000 yen for round trip.  For reservations, call the Hakusan City Tourist Information Center at 076-273-4851. Bus reservations can be made until 6 pm on 10 June.

Shiramine Yukidaruma (Snowman) Festival 2011

Thanks to CIR PA Rohan for the information!

Come to the 2011 Snowman Festival in Shiramine (白峰雪だるま祭り) with the Hakusan International Association (HIA)!

Photo by Leah Zoller

On Friday, 4 Feb. 2011, HIA will host a multilingual tour of the Shiramine Yukidaruma Festival. This is the 22nd year of the festival; about 2000 snowmen (and snowwomen and Pikachus) will be light up at night in the village of Shiramine, which is located at the base of Mt. Hakusan. There will be hot local food and drinks.

Although you’ll have to take a half-day (or whole day) off for this festival, it’s worth it! Each villager is responsible for making his or her own snow sculpture, and, last year, they were wonderfully creative and fun. Due to the date and the remoteness of the village, this is an exclusive chance to experience Ishikawan culture and be able to enjoy the snow we all complain about!

Photo by Leah Zoller

The participation fee is 500 yen, which includes transportation to Shiramine from Kanazawa, Hakusan, or Tsurugi, and insurance.

The festival tour is limited to 35 people, so click below for the contact information!

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Osugi Musical Theatre presents “Kokoro Yori”

Long-time Ishikawa resident, former JET and this year’s closing speaker for the ALT Mid-year Conference, Gart Westerhout, has produced another wonderful original musical with his troupe, The Osugi Musical Theatre.

This year’s production is called Kokoro Yori, based on the life of famous, female  haiku poet Chiyo-ni, a native of Edo-period Matto-shi (Hakusan City).  A brief description of the background and the play can be found here on the troupe’s website. Each year, the plays produced by Osugi Musical Theatre have a component of international exchange – from tengu dolls painted by artists from around the world, or thousands upon thousands of origami cranes folded and sent to the theater for use in the show and then transport to Sadako’s memorial in Hiroshima. For this show, people wrote and sent in haiku composed in many languages and some will be presented as part of the dialogue of the show.

Speaking of the show, there are numerous performances coming up! The first round will be in October at the troupe’s home theater in Osugi (Komatsu City), a small town in the absolutely breath-taking foothills of Hakusan.  There is a bus that runs up to the area from Komatsu train station, but it is best accessed by car.  Click here for a Google map to the location. The November performance will be at the Hakusan City Matto Bunkakaikan ( also the Hakusan International Salon location), which is about a block away from Matto train station.  Which is also conveniently near to the Chiyo-ni Museum next to the train station.  Both of which you can see from the station’s doors.

Here are the dates and times:

Osugi home shows on the left, Hakusan City shows on the right

Osugi Musical Theatre is troupe of both children and adults, Japanese and foreigners alike, who are always looking for hard-working volunteer crew members, sparkling cast members, and enthusiastic audience members for their numerous productions.  I’ve done this myself and has been one of the best experiences I’ve had in Japan. Please contact Gart to sign up to help or audition for the next show!


Spring Super Rindou Walk 春のスーパー林道ウォーク

Photo from the Hakusan Super Rindou official website.

Please note that this is a SEPARATE event from the trekking event sponsored by Hakusan International Association on June 20.

The Hakusan Super Rindou スーパー林道 (Forest Road) is open from June to November for drivers to take a scenic route between Ishikawa and Gifu. However, from 29-30 May 2010, the Super Rindou will be opened as a walking path before it opens for the season, thus providing a rare opportunity to enjoy the natural beauty of the road on foot.

This area is famous for its virgin beech forests and beautiful waterfalls. The views are superb, and not having to worry about dodging oncoming traffic will definitely improve photo-ops. Even if you take a car later in the season, there are plenty of places to explore off the beaten path (or paved path, as it were).

The course is 15.6 km round trip, but of course you don’t have to walk the whole road.

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Hakusan Super Rindo and Trekking Tour

The Hakusan International Association (the HIA) is sponsoring a trip in the upper reaches of the Mt. Haksuan foothills. The Super Rindo is a road only open during certain times of year (as most of the year the road is closed and under a good deal of snow. The bus will pick you up, drive the Rindo, and then drop you off at the trail! Here’s the time schedule and what the tour includes:

SCHEDULE (tentative) Date: Sunday, June 20, 2010

7:00 Leave from Rifare (We can also stop at Korinbo and other places. Please contact us for more information.)

7:50 Hakusan Intl. Salon (near Matto JR Station)

8:10 Tsurugi-Crane Hall

Enter the Hakusan Super Rindo mountain road

9:30 Sanpō-iwadake Mts. parking lot

10:00 Start trek, appx. 40 min. to the top.

10:40 Mountain summit 11:20

11:50 Arrive at the foot of the mountain (parking lot)

12:50 Ichirino Kogen Hotel (onsen and lunch)

14:50 Leave for Kanazawa

16:40 Rifare This time may change.

Here’s the blurb from the Hakusan International Salon:

We here in Hakusan City are proud to boast an abundant nature that allows for a variety of outdoor activities. On Sunday, June 20th, HIA will be holding a bus and trekking tour for the foreign residents of Ishikawa Prefecture. The bus will make its way through the “Hakusan Super Rindo” mountain road up to the base of the Sanpō-iwadake Mountains (1745 m). The course will take us past numerous scenic spots, such as “Ubaga-taki,” which provides a magnificent view of the scenery surrounding Mt. Hakusan. You will then enjoy a trek to the top of the Sanpō-iwadake Mountains (40 minutes one-way), where you will be welcomed by fresh green leaves and beautiful native plants.

On the way home, you will be able to relax at an onsen and have lunch.

Spaces are limited though… HURRY! The participation fee is 1,000 yen, which includes lunch, insurance and the highway tolls.

To apply, contact: Hakusan International Association  Phone 076-274-9520

E-mail: toshikouryu (at) FAX: 076-274-9546  Deadline: Friday, June 4th

Things to bring: sneakers; water and snacks, as lunch is late.  Space is limited to 30, so please hurry and don’t miss this opportunity! Inquiries: Ms. Keiko Uno at HIA.   Mobile phone: 090-5178-6501

Please contact the Hakusan International Association or the Hakusan International Salon if you’re interested in this great trip!