Facing the Sea of Japan, Wajima (輪島市, Wajima-shi) is located on the northwest coast of the Noto Peninsula (能登半島, Noto-hanto). Wajima city lies approximately 115 kilometers north of Kanazawa city (金沢市, Kanazawa-shi) the capital of Ishikawa Prefecture (石川県, Ishikawa-ken).
One legend is that the name Wajima has its origins in the ancient name for the Noto, "Wa no shima," used by the Chinese and Korean people. "Wa no shima" translates to "island of Wa," or "island of Japan." Wajima is famous for its Asaichi morning market, which is thought to have started around 1,000 years ago, and as the birthplace of the famous manga author Go Nagai. Wajima is also famous for nuri (laquerware) and sake (rice wine) both of which are deeply rooted in Japanese history. In March, 2007 a magnitude 6.9 earthquake caused serious damage to Wajima. Today, only a few places still show signs of the trauma.
Wajima city has an estimated population of approximately 32,000 people. Much like they have for centuries, people in Wajima maintain a lifestyle from selling marine products, rice cultivation, sake brewing, and the art of Wajima nuri.
Wajima is serviced by the Noto airport, which is approximately 20 kilometers east of the city.
Since all trains ceased running to Wajima several years ago, and have been replaced with a striking photo memorial, trains are an inconvenient transportation mode. There is a train that runs from Nanao to Anamizu, and then travelers can catch a bus from Anamizu station to Wajima. However, you should note that this is a slow and expensive option.
Bus is an accessible option for traveling between Wajima and Kanazawa. Tickets run at 2200 yen one way for the two hour bus journey. The schedule can be found at http://www.hokutetsu.co.jp/bus/noto/wajima1-1.html
For those travelers with cars, the Noto Satoyamakaido is the most accessible highway between Wajima and Kanazawa. It is a toll-free road for vehicles going to Uchinada. http://www.ishi-douro.or.jp/a_05.html
Museums and CultureEdit
Boasting museums, temples, lacquerware, locally brewed sake, local festivals, and a public foot onsen, Wajima is a culturally rich city with an unyielding sense of tradition.
There are a few museums worth checking out on a visit to Wajima. The Kiriko Kaikan (Kiriko Lantern Museum) has displays from various Noto festivals. It is worth seeing especially if you haven't experienced one of the famous Noto festivals. Displaying kiriko of all shapes and sizes, the collection is very well-presented. In addition, there are a couple exhibits related to life in the Noto and the celebrated sumo wrestler Hiroshi Wajima.
There are also the Urushi Art Museum and Wajima Lacquerware Center. Both provide the history behind and insight into Wajima's famed lacquerware art. For more information about these museums, check here: http://www.hot-ishikawa.jp/f-lang/english/noto-area/muse-detail.html#01
Located in Monzen town, Soji Temple was once one of the most important temples in Zen Buddhism in Japan. It was severely damaged by the 2007 earthquake and is still undergoing repairs. The temple is still strikingly beautiful and creates a serene ambience that welcomes visitors. For more information and directions, check here: http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e4260.html
There are several theories about the origins of Wajima lacquerware. However, lacquer techniques can be traced as far back as the 14th century. Wajima lacquerware skills and techniques have evolved over the centuries, and today the art plays a significant role in the local industry. The art is admired for its quality, solid coating, and exquisite Chinkin and Makie decorations. Chinkin is the technique of decorating a lacquered surface by carving into it with a very sharp chisel and sprinkling gold powder into the inlayed design. On the other hand, in Makie, designs are drawn onto the lacquered surface and gold leaf or dust is set or sprinkled onto the design. Both Chinkin and Makie require elaborate skills to create a refined design. Today, many of the lacquerware shops that line the streets of central Wajima, cater to tourists.
Asa Ichi Market Edit
The morning market is another tourist attraction and industry stimulant in Wajima. This fisherman's market is open daily except the 10th and 25th of each month and January 1-3 every year. Opening hours are 8:00 until noon. Here you can purchase fresh marine products as well as omiyage and souvenirs.
The stalls lining the cobbled Asa Ichi Avenue are primarily retained by the wives of local fisherman. There are also a number of craft shops located along the avenue and on neighboring streets.
Senmaida, the valley of 1,000 rice paddies, is about ten kilometer north-east of central Wajima. Located on the 249 heading from Wajima toward Suzu, travelers can visit this site 24 hours a day. Containing 1004 rice fields, Senmaida is looked after and tended to by locals. The valley offers beautiful views during all four seasons, and can be either looked upon from the rest area above or leisurely strolled through on your way down to the coast.
Every September, two couples are selected via a nation-wide raffle to have a traditional Japanese wedding ceremony with Senmaida rice terraces and rugged coastline as their backdrop. Visitors are welcome to witness this event and take part in the rice harvesting that begins directly after the ceremony.
When the weather is clear, you can recreate outdoors by relaxing in a park, barbequing and camping on the beach, swimming in an ocean-water pool, or strolling along the wharf.
Wajima has several parks that overlook various areas of the city and its coastline. Many locals gather and picnic in Ipponmatsukoen to view cherry blossoms in the spring.
Alternatively, you can barbeque at the beach which has a small campsite and barbeque facilities. Just north of the beach, a small pool has been built into the rugged coastline and filled with ocean water.
In spring 2010, Wajima completed construction on its wharf and has opened it to boats packed with tourists. It's an excellent place for a stroll, a jog, or simply reading a book while enjoying the view.
All of these places can be reached easily by bicycle, which can be rented from the station.
Eating and DrinkingEdit
- Baby Bread- The better of Wajima's two bakeries. Though the staff doesn't speak English, they are very friendly and helpful.
- Chihara- Korean-style bbq restaurant with excellent fried chicken. The staff is extremely friendly and helpful with the menu. Located across the street from Monchan and one block over from Tokushin.
- Etranger- Huge portions and good Western influenced food. This is the best value for your money. They have an English menu, and can do the who menu as take out. It's the bright orange building just down the road from Wajima Station.
- Gogo Curry- Located at the station, this branch of the Ishikawa-wide chain of curry shops, is an excellent value. You choose your portion size and toppings from the vending machine before sitting down. You may ask for your menu as take out.
- Hachi-ban Ramen- The Wajima branch of the nationwide chain of noodle shops. Prices are cheap and the atmosphere is casual. It's located on the 1, near the Family Mart and Cosmo gas station when entering town.
- Mariner- Located down a back road between the main Post office and the station, across from Kawai Pre-school, it has an extensive menu of mostly western food and drink for relatively cheap.
- Moco Moco Cafe- Located on the wharf, Moco Moco Cafe offers a full drink menu, complete with hand-drawn pictures in your cappuccino foam and izakaiya-style snacks. There is also a full dinner menu made upon reservation. Occasionally, local musicians and entertainers perform.
- Monchan- Okonomiyaki and yaki-soba restaurant. Located on Restaurant Row.
- The Onion House- Western influenced Japanese food restaurant. It's located off the 249 on your way toward Senmaida.
- Tokushin- A local favorite izakaya with a great selection of Japanese and Korean-style food. Reasonably priced and friendly staff. Located on Restaurant Row next to the park.
- Toku- Located in Marine town and under the same ownership as Tokushin. Offers a variety of fried dishes.
- Triangle Cafe- A good restaurant for lunch, dessert or coffee.
- Yabu (Shinbashi branch)- Standard Japanese foods at reasonable prices. It's popular for its soba and udon selection.
There are a few churches within Wajima, as well as religious oriented preschools and day care centers. One church is on the way to Asaichi and is run by an Italian minister. There are both Buddhist and Christian oriented preschools, one of which, Umi no Hoshi, has a church attached and is near Ipponmatsukoen. There are of course temples and shrines throughout the town as well.
Most basic shopping needs can be met at Wai Plaza or the surrounding stores. Wai Plaza is located across the river from the bus station and cultural hall. This area contains two grocery stores, two 100 yen shops, a book and CD store, an electronics store, a home center, several clothing/department stores, two drug/cosmetic stores, and Wajima's second hand shop.
- Wai Plaza- This shopping center is great and has almost everything. The grocery store has a selection of foreign food, but it is quite expensive. Yamaya in Nanao is the closest place to go for cheap foreign food. A thing to remember, after 7:3 they discount a lot of thier fish and sushi selection half-price. There are also a few cothing stores, a hardware store, food stands, and an arcade. Caddy corner from the plaza is a ￥100 shop and a magazine/cd shop.
- Famy- Another/grocery/clothing/gift store. Famy is across the street from Wai Plaza. There is also a bakery and ￥100 shop.
- Yamada Denki- Across from Wai Plaza, this is the best place to go for any electronic needs.
- Wave Karaoke- Larger and generally more popular karaoke. The staff is friendly and you can buy alcohol and snacks at the reception desk.
- People Karaoke- A little cheaper than Wave, though the rooms are smaller. Beer is expensive.
- Nebuta Onsen- 700yen before 3:00 pm and 800yen after. The onsen has a nice outdoor bath and a sauna.
- Hokkoku Bank 北國銀行 - Most JETs in Ishikawa Prefecture use Hokkoku Bank. Wajima's main branch is located across from the senior high school. Hokkoku Bank is a regional chain of banks located only within the Hokoriku area (Ishikawa, Toyama, and Fukui Prefectures). On weekdays the bank is open from 9am-3pm, while the ATMs are open 8am-8pm. The actual bank services are not available on the weekends and the weekend ATM hours are shorter.
Wajima is serviced by various clinics as well as the Wajima City Hospital, located just across from Wai Plaza
Groups and ClubsEdit
- Community gymnasium, baseball ground, and swimming pool