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Japan Hour

Road Trip On Nanao Line (Part 2)

Our two-day trip of enquiry and discovery on Ichibata Electric Railway’s Taisha and Kita-Matsue lines in Shimane Prefecture continues. At the end of the first day, we spend the night at Tsukiyo no Usagi in Izumo. 

Our two-day trip on Noto Railway’s scenic Nanao Line in Ishikawa Prefecture continues. On the evening of the first day, we travel from Noto-Nakajima Station to Nishigishi Station. About seven years ago, the latter appeared in the anime series Hanasaku Iroha. It still attracts anime fans. We ask a local at the station for directions to Guest House Hokkai, which was recommended to us earlier.

The small lodging facility opened around five years ago. There are only three rooms, which overlook the sea and offer a nice view of the yacht harbour. No meals are served at Hokkai but there are several eateries nearby, one of which is a cafe next door. Called Youho, it is run by the guest house’s owners and specialises in Thai cuisine. It also serves breakfast for Hokkai’s guests. It is closed on this particular day so we go to another restaurant nearby, called Puca Puca Tei.

Before we head out, Hokkai’s owner gives us some hot spring discount tokens, which can be used at the nearby Iyashi no Yu hot spring. But first, we have dinner at Puca Puca. The Italian restaurant opened two years ago. We order a colourful vegetable salad, breaded sardine seasoned with herbs, sauteed red sea bream served with pistachio sauce and octopus seasoned with anchovy oil.

After dinner, we go to the hot spring, which is a five-minute walk away. Opened in 2004, Iyashi no Yu attracts about 200 people each day. With our discount token, we only need to pay 310 yen instead of 510 yen to use the open-air bath.

The next day, we request the owner of the guest house to show us his yacht at the harbour. We had found out the day before that he also owns the yacht harbour. He shows us his yacht, which is incidentally also called Puca Puca. He tells us the Italian restaurant’s owner had liked the name of his yacht so named the eatery after it. It is a cruiser, so it is ideal for long journeys where people live on the ship. It is equipped with a place to sleep, a toilet and a kitchen. The owner tells us it costs 180,000 yen per year to keep a yacht at the harbour. His yacht is used for sailing trips around Nanao Bay - a full-course meal is also available on board, with a reservation.  

After checking out the yacht, we head to the Youho cafe for breakfast. One of its specialities is the home-roasted coffee. The owner uses coffee beans from Timor-Leste, which he found out about when he sailed around Asia years ago. The beans are sweet and have a rich aroma. After a breakfast of toast, eggs, salad and coffee, we make our way to Nishigishi Station and advance to Noto-Kashima by the 11.20am train.

Noto-Kashima Station is known for its flowers and cherry blossom trees. It has even appeared in many movies. We find out from an elderly lady we meet at Noto-Kashima that it is also called Noto Sakura Station. Nearly 100 Yoshino cherry trees are planted around the station, creating a colourful tunnel. The elderly resident takes care of the garden as a volunteer.

We ask her to suggest another scenic spot and she mentions Nagisa Fishery. We reach the store after walking for 20 minutes. It boasts a splendid view of the sea and due to the calm waves, one can often see dolphins from here. Nagisa Fishery is a store which sells fish from the sea in Noto. A restaurant called Nagisa Garden opened two years ago and it serves fish from the store. We order the raw fish set meal which costs 1,080 yen. It includes yellowtail, sea bream, barracuda, bonito, sweet shrimp and fish soup.

Next, we board the final train of our trip and head to the last station of Nanao Line, Anamizu. A local at the station recommends we check out a famous statue of Buddha. It is quite far away, so we rent some bicycles near the station and reach the place in less than 10 minutes. The Buddha statue is one of the biggest in the Hokuriku region, and was constructed and sponsored by a local construction company owner. The company’s owner lived to be 100 years old and thus the statue is affectionately known as the Noto Daibutsu of Longevity.

We then drop by a store and the owner tells us about a noodle shop called Don Don. It opened in 1983 and is known for its homemade udon noodles. The recommended Don Don udon noodles feature a soup made of dried bonito flakes, mackerel, shredded seaweed, bean sprouts, green onion and other ingredients which are blended together. Granulated sugar is added to enhance the flavour.


1) Guests of Hokkai get a discount token which can be used at the Iyashi no Yu hot spring nearby

2) A must-see attraction near Anamizu Station is a large Buddha statue, known as the Noto Daibutsu of Longevity


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