Experience tradition in Shunran-no-Sato's historic farmhouse inns
Travel to Ishikawa Prefecture’s (石川県 Ishikawa-ken) Noto Peninsula (能登半島 Noto hantō) and you will find a land covered in satoyama (里山). Literally meaning “village” and “mountain”, the term is loosely defined as the forested areas between mountains and arable land developed over centuries by local villagers. The resulting agricultural villages of this development make up a beautiful patchwork of rice paddies, grasslands, forests, streams, and ponds which lie between the low mountains of the area and is characteristic of Japan’s traditional rural history.
Shunran-no-yado, one of the many farmhouses. (Image credit: Shunran-no-Sato)
In 1996, several rural villages across the Noto Peninsula were incorporated into a collective of villages and named Shunran-no-Sato (春蘭の里) by the Shunran-no-Sato ecotourism project with the aim to preserve the area’s traditional beauty and culture. It was certified by the Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems for its outstanding beauty and agricultural diversity and is sustained by offering rural accommodations and experiences. Here, you can sleep in one of the 47 farmhouses (農家民宿 nōka minshuku) across the villages of the Hosu District (鳳珠郡 Hōsu-gun) that make up the Shunran-no-Sato collective. All of the farmhouses are privately owned and hosted by local families, and you can even read an introduction of some of the families and their homes here.
Irori, a Japanese sunken fireplace. (Image credit: Shunran-no-Sato)
In order to preserve tradition and rural ambience, the houses have not been modified to facilitate tourism and tourist numbers are deliberately limited to one group per house. Many of the wooden farmhouses are over 100 years old and complete with tatami floors, sliding doors, and sunken fireplaces called irori (囲炉裏), which give a special feeling of comfort and warmth as you sit around the fire and enjoy homemade meals served in local wajima-nuri (輪島塗) vermillion lacquerware.
Fish caught by you! (Image credit: Shunran-no-Sato)
There are many things to do while staying in the villages. The locals organise various activities depending on the house and season to give a true taste of rural life. In the fall, you can enjoy hunting for mushrooms or participate in the fall harvest. In the summer, you can help plant rice. Throughout the year, you can gather edible wild plants known as sansai (山菜), pick fruit, make charcoal or handicrafts using local materials, experience zen meditation or tea ceremony, or even just go fishing with free fishing poles provided by your hosts. Everything is designed to be immersive and welcoming.
Rice farming experience and edible wild plants handpicked from the mountain. (Image credit: Shunran-no-Sato)
Reservations are a must as the villages strive to keep the area from becoming overrun with tourists in order to preserve the rural atmosphere. Reservations can be made online at the official website.
Getting to Shunran-no-Sato
No matter if you plan to fly in or take the train, access to the village is quite convenient. Flying to Ishikawa Prefecture may be the most convenient option. From Noto Airport (能登空港 Noto Kūkō), it’s only a 15-minute drive into the village. If coming by train, take the Nanao Line (七尾線 Nanao-sen) to Anamizu Station (穴水駅 Anamizu-eki), from here, it’s about a 30-minute drive to the village. If you’re worried about taxi fare, never fear, Shunran-no-Sato offers free pick-ups to and from the village.
Whether travelling for some rest and relaxation or for the rural activities, Shunran-no-Sato provides an experience unlike other travel destinations around Japan. The natural beauty of Shunran-no-Sato and the warm hospitality of your hosts is sure to help forge a close connection between you and this wonderful land trapped in time.
Shunran-no-Sato Main Office (春蘭の里)
Address: 16-9 Miyachi, Noto-cho, Hōsu-gun, Ishikawa 927-0322
Nearest station: Anamizu Station (穴水駅)
Tel: +81 768-76-0021 (Japanese Only)
Header image credit: Ryunosuke Nakamura / CC BY-SA 4.0
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