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Globally Important Agricultural Heritage System

Ishikawa Prefecture is made up of three main regions: Kanazawa, home to Kenrokuen Garden and Kanazawa Castle; Kaga, which offers great views of the sacred Mt. Hakusan; and Noto, which is surrounded on three sides by the Sea of Japan.

en_nogyo01Noto is abundant in seafood and mountain vegetables and retains a beautiful natural environment. There is Senmaida, which features rice paddies terraced on a precipitous mountain all the way down to the edge of the water. The rice paddies on this slope are so small that there is a story of a man who couldn’t find his own rice paddy and was about to give up and go home, when he took off his traditional straw coat (which was blocking his vision) and found that his rice paddy had been right in front of him the entire time.

 

 

en_nogyo02In the past, it was difficult to cultivate rice in the Noto region, so salt farms flourished instead. Within Japan, there were many methods of making salt, but the Agehama-style of salt farming was the main method used in the Noto. Today, it is continued only in the Noto. In Suzu’s Endenmura, you can visit the salt farms and try your hand at this traditional method of salt farming.

 

In addition, in the Noto, you can catch a glimpse of many old passed-down traditions like the summer and autumn Kiriko Festivals, which celebrate the harvest in the fields and seas, and the Aenokoto Ritual, which occurs in the winter to thank the gods for their abundant blessings in the rice fields.

In this way, the natural environment and cultural traditions which make up Japan’s unspoiled landscapes have been acknowledged by the world, and in June 2011, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) designated Noto, consecutively with Sado Island in Niigata Prefecture, a Globally Important Agricultural Heritage System (GIAHS), the first in Japan and the developed world. GIAHS is an initiative started by the FAO to protect and preserve eco-friendly and self-sustaining traditional agriculture, biodiversity, farming landscapes, and farming culture that are being lost in today’s modern world.

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When you come to Ishikawa Prefecture, we highly recommend taking a trip not only to Kanazawa, Mt. Hakusan, and Kaga, but also to the Noto, where you can get a taste of old Japan.

Related Link: Noto’s Satoyama and Satoumi Information Portal Site (English, Chinese, Korean)