Sunday, June 06, 2010

wajima sights (and some food)

Awhile back, when I mentioned to Satoshi that I wanted to go to Wajima, he thought that the most important thing for me to see was their Asa-ichi (morning market).

But, as we looked through travel pamphlets and online, we realized there was way more to see.

Instead of relying on the infrequent local bus, we hired a kanko taxi(tour taxi) and had the driver take us around to see different areas.

Our first stop was Senmaida (1000 rice fields). This dan-dan-batake (terraced rice field) goes from the ocean up to the mountains.

Apparently there are 1004 fields, many used to be tended to by families but since most children of the rice farmers do not want to take over the business, they have started asking for volunteer groups to tend to the fields or "franchises" (where you rent the field).

You will also see these high "fences", wooden poles roped together to make a fence of sorts, this is to dry the rice once it is harvested. I think when they dry the rice naturally, it "seals" in all the nutrients and makes for a more flavorful grain.

To see the fields as the sun sets is supposed to be beautiful, definitely something to see the next time we come.

From the rice fields, we went a little farther down the road to the Wajima salt field (bottom right photo). There is actually a more authentic salt field in Suzu, but we didn't have THAT much money for our taxi ride.

Anyway, these salt "farmers" gather sand, spreading it out on the ground with wooden rakes. Then using wooden cones, they throw salt water onto the sand. After letting it dry in the sun, they gather the sand and put them into these collapsible boxes, filling them again with sea water. The water that is collected after being "filtered" through the sand, is then cooked in a stone pot and the liquid that comes out forms salt after a couple of days.

Amazing process!

We then headed back towards Wajima city and visited the Kiriko museum (bottom left photo). Kiriko are tall but slender "floats" that many men carry on their shoulders during the summer festivals in this area, usually between July and August.

These floats used to be made of bamboo, but over the years they became a little more elaborate being made of wood and then even more elaborate by being lacquered.

The largest and oldest Kiriko dates back to the 1800s and is as tall as a 4-story building and weighs 2000 lbs. Amazingly, it only took 150 men to carry it and is sometimes still used in festivals. (THAT would be something to see!)

For this reason, most of the towns in this area have their electrical wires underground, especially in the areas where the Kiriko will pass by.
After seeing what we could within the means of the taxi and our financials, (we actually negotiated 5000 yen (about US$50) for an hour but ended up paying 7000 yen (about US$70). we didn't have the exact amount and the driver felt he took us to extra areas not negotiated in the beginning. Even if we were planning to give him a little tip, the way the driver asked for extra money left a bitter taste in our mouths.), we checked in and then decided to check out the Yu-ichi (evening market), this is held at the Sumiyoshi shrine.

By the time we got there though, most of the vendors were packing up. Apparently this market is mainly for locals and only consists of a handful of vendors. (When they sell out, they go home, or even if they don't sell out but want to go home, they go home)

Since we had some time before dinner, we walked around the area where the Asa-ichi (morning market) would be held.

In the process, we found some interesting looking manholes.

(bottom left) Gojinjodaiko--a festival featuring drummers in demon masks and hair of seaweed wildly drumming on Japanese taiko (drum)
(upper right) Images of the morning market--fish, vegetables and grandmas
(bottom right) Wajima lacquerware (bowls and chopsticks)

Dinner consisted of LOTS of seafood...some highlights were tai (snapper) shabu shabu, a dish where you dip the raw fish into simmering seaweed stock (top right). It is eaten with momiji oroshi (grated daikon and chili), green onions and ponzu (citrus soy sauce).

Sashimi--tai (snapper) and amaebi (northern shrimp) (bottom left) and many, many other delicious dishes (bottom right). I was freaked by the amaebi, it was served with the eggs which were bluish.

Tomorrow, I'll talk about the Asa-ichi (morning market) and some sights as we made our way to Kanazawa.

Senmaida and Wajima Salt Field past Kiriko Museum along Route 249

Kiriko Museum
3-22-2 Tsukudamachi
Wajima, Ishikawa
Phone: 0768.22.7100
Open 8:00-17:00 (during festival season (July 15-August 31) it is open until 18:00)
Admission: Adults 600 yen (about US$6) Children 15-17 y.o. 450 yen (about US$4.50), 6-14 y.o 350 yen (about US$3.50)

Hotel Yashio
Sodegahama kaigan Fugeshimachi
Wajima, Ishikawa
Phone: 0768.22.0600


Krissy said...

great pics of the rice fields and the kiriko. thank you for sharing.

Dennis K. said...

WOW look at that dinner!! The manhole lids looks so pretty!

KirkK said...

Hey Kat - Man that Tai sashimi looks soooo good. I loved the photos on Flickr.... I wish you had used more of them on your post!

jalna said...

Wow, interesting place! I enjoyed your photos on Flickr also.

K and S said...

Thanks Krissy, for stopping by :)

Thanks Dennis :)

Thanks Kirk, sorry had so much to post about :( next time I'll post more sashimi/fish photos.

Thanks Jalna, love your profile photo of you and Kona :)

Take care everyone!

Rowena said...

Kat - wow, this is just so amazing! I want to go to Japan!!! Descriptions of everything sound exactly like the kind of stuff I'd want to see (minus that rotten taxi driver!), but the dinner afterwards takes the cake.

K and S said...

Thanks Rowena, I hope you guys get a chance to come soon :)

Take care.