A day to remember: rent a car and a bike and take a trip to Noto Hanto Peninsula to enjoy spots recommended by locals.
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Ishikawa Prefecture is long and narrow and runs north to south along the Noto Hanto Peninsula, which sticks out into the Sea of Japan. It takes about two and a half hours to get from Tokyo to Kanazawa via the Hokuriku Shinkansen, and about an hour to go from Tokyo’s Haneda Airport to Kaga’s Komatsu Airport. The prefecture is divided into four regions, each of which fosters its own unique culture: the Noto area, with abundant nature in and around its mountains and sea; the Kanazawa area, which is a well-known tourist spot and home to Kanazawajo Castle and 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art; the Kaga area, which is the leading spot for onsen in the entire Hokuriku region; and finally, the Mt. Hakusan area, known for (of course) Mt. Hakusan, one of Japan’s Three Famous Mountains.
In addition to Kanazawajo Castle and its surrounding castle town, Ishikawa Prefecture is also known for its traditional handicrafts, such as wajima-nuri lacquerware, kutani ware, and kaga-yuzen; it also stands out as a sightseeing spot for its natural scenery on the side of the Sea of Japan. One particular sightseeing spot is the Chirihama Kaigan Coast, also known as the Chirihama Beach Driveway, in the Noto area. This is the only place in Japan where motor vehicles can be driven right up to the water’s edge, a rarity around the whole world. It is also known for being selected as Japan’s number one best beach in Tripadvisor’s Travelers’ Choice™ World’s Best Beach 2016 awards, and many people from both inside and outside Japan visit it every year.
Taking a drive under the blue sky with the waves crashing nearby is exhilarating. Even cars that don’t have four-wheel drive can be driven on the beach, and normal tires can be used, so rental cars can be driven as well. Motor vehicles can be driven on this beach due to the moderate moisture level and fine grains of sand. The size of the grains of sand on most other beaches range from about 0.5mm to 1mm, but Chirihama Kaigan Coast is made of fine grains that are only about 0.25mm. The fine sand soaks up the saltwater, compacting the beach and making it possible to drive on. Not just cars, though—bicycles can also be ridden along the Chirihama Kaigan Coast. Bicycle rental shops are located in the vicinity as well, and many people can be seen enjoying the wind during a ride.
If you’re going to take a drive along the Chirihama Kaigan Coast, you’ll probably want to take the opportunity to visit other sightseeing spots as well. Maybe, however, you’re not familiar with the Noto area or you’re not sure of where to go. We figure there is more than one person facing this dilemma, which is why we have put together a travel plan with Ishikawa Prefecture as the focus. The main members who thought up this travel plan are people who live in Ishikawa Prefecture and have a deep affection for the area. In the following passages, we’ll introduce to you the finalized plan as well as some recommendations we’ve prepared.
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- What kind of place is the Noto Hanto Peninsula?
Noto is near the center of the Japanese archipelago, and it is a peninsula that protrudes to the north into the Sea of Japan. One of its main attractions is its coastline, and it is also known for its abundance of nature; a large part of the area has been designated as the Noto Hanto Quasi-National Park.
- This travel plan also includes using bicycles. What’s the reason for that?
There are a lot of people who rent large cars or vans when going on trips with their family. If you have the space of a large car, it’s easy to load it up with bicycles and enjoy riding them at your destination. This would also allow you to have fun while moving from place to place, enjoying both the journey and the destination. Bicycles will also allow you to get some exercise and refresh yourself during your trip. Adding bicycles to your list of travel items is sure to also mean adding some fun. Viewing the passing scenery from a car window is nice, of course, but experiencing the scenery and nature firsthand while riding along the coastline or through a park on a bicycle will create some unique memories. This plan was made with the hope of giving travelers the opportunity to have some experiences that can only be done at these particular locations.
On top of that, there are ample opportunities for fun photos when traveling by bicycle. Photos of you and your traveling companions are a sure way to treasure the memories you make. The fun is not just in the photos though; if you’re traveling as a family, letting the kids roam around on the bikes can give you and your spouse some time to relax quietly. Through the various experiences, you can get through renting both a car and some bicycles, you’re sure to be able to form stronger bonds with the people you’re traveling with.
- Are there any points of particular interest in this travel plan?
First is the Chirihama Kaigan Coast, also called the Chirihama Beach Driveway. This is the only coastline in Japan where driving motor vehicles on the beach itself is allowed. Its total length is about eight kilometers, and driving on the beach is permitted in all seasons, so lots of visitors come to enjoy the spot all year round. Not just cars, but bicycles can also be ridden on the beach. Riding a bicycle along the water’s edge is particularly refreshing, so we recommend alternating between a car and a bicycle. The sunset here is famously beautiful, making it a popular photo spot for Instagrammers. Being able to enjoy a sunset on the beach while riding a bike is a rare experience, so don’t forget to take lots of photos. After enjoying your time on the beach, we recommend that you head over to the Nansoh Museum of Arts. Here, you can enjoy some tea and steamed buns while sitting around the traditional sunken hearths and experience the hospitality of the countryside.
Chirihama Beach Driveway
Nansoh Museum of Arts
- Is there anything I should be careful of in this plan or at the destinations?
Almost nothing. This plan encompasses Noto’s scenery and food, and anyone will be able to enjoy it regardless of age. The people who actually tried out and tested this plan had a lot of fun. However, it does require moving around on a tight schedule, so some people might feel that it’s a bit too hectic for them.
- And finally...
The time spent with family on a vacation is sure to leave an impression that will last for a lifetime. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to enjoy a trip around Ishikawa Prefecture that can only be experienced by renting a car.
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