Hokuriku: Cycling Around the Noto Peninsula

At Senmaida (one-thousand rice paddies) in Shirayone, the more than 2,000 terraced ride paddies sloping down to the beach will take your breath away. At Cape Rokkouzaki, on the very edge of the Noto Peninsula, spectacular views of the Sea of Japan will astound you. These are must-see places in Noto; however, when you travel Noto by bike, the area unveils its real charm. You may find impeccable beauty in a small path leading down to an inlet or a harbor perfectly set in the landscape.

You may of course want to visit the well-preserved city of Kanazawa or Wajima for its famous urushi lacquerware and Asa-ichi morning market. But the fun of cycling Noto does not stop there. You won’t see any tourist coaches as you cruise narrow roads through remote villages by the sea and in the mountains. Although there is no rule to do so, in virtually every village here matt black kawara tiles adorn the tops and wood shingles the sides of old houses that line the streets.

It makes it feel as if the clock turned back a century, if not more. You’ll find yourself wondering what you’ll see next, as you take a nostalgic journey through time. Avoid the tourist sites in guidebooks. Once you get off the beaten track, you’ll find Noto is an endless chain of traditional Japanese country life waiting to be discovered by cyclists.

For more on this cycling route, including detailed road and topography maps, pick up a copy of CYCLING JAPAN by Takashi Niwa: 10 of the Best Rides, Vol. 1, Tokyo Chizu Publishing, at bookshops around Japan (also available at various online stores).