On the western coast of Japan, the Noto-hantō (Noto-peninsula) stretches towards the north surrounded by the Sea of Japan. It seems to be an uncontaminated strip of Japanese culture untouched by the outside world.
During my seven-hour train journey from Tokyo, I observed the landscape alternating between mountains and rugged shorelines. The fierce blue waves and wind had eroded the coastline and gifted me with a surreal scenery: steep cliffs, tiny islands and small fishing villages just off the track.
There is serene silence. On the road, old women with bent backs and canes returning home after a hard day at work in the fields. The rhythm slows down and life goes back in time to an ideal, simpler way of living.
Next to the main industries of agriculture and fisheries, Oku-Noto (Depths of Noto) is also noted for its amalgamation of artistic heritage of crafts and cultural traditions, unmatched elsewhere in Japan. The origin of this strong culture dates back to the Edo period, when the then ruling Maeda clan, used their wealth to promote culture and education.
During my time here, I experienced a traditional Japanese culture, that is still very much part of the everyday life of the peninsula inhabitants.
This love of culture has transcended through generations to this day and ensuring that timeless arts such as tea ceremony, za-zen meditation, lacquerware, silk dyeing, washi, forged blades and Gojinjo Daiko survived the ever changing social and economical landscape of Japan.
OKU-NOTO (Depths of Noto)
I will include a series of in depth articles of the places, artist and crafts, that I documented during my trip:
- Wajima Washi (Japanese handmade papers ) are made of tough and durable such as wild mulberry fibers.
- Sojiji Temple and Soghen, the Za-Zen german monk
- The tea ceremony was introduced in 1666 when Maeda Toshitsune invited Senbiki Soshitsu of urasenke to Kanazawa.
- Kaga silk (Kaga yūzen) is made with complicated silk print technique used mostly for kimono (wabi-sabi).
- Wajima lacquerware is high quality lacquerware traditionally decorated with gold dust.
- Chinkin technique and maki-e technique is the application of metallic decoration to lacquerware, usually gold or silver.
- Ushitsu Forged Blades
- Gojinjo Daiko is a Japanese Drum masked drummers, who perform to scare away demons in Wajima City’s cultural heritage (Since 1961)
- Yakiniku (Indoor Japanese BBQ)
- Ushitsu Fish Market