The rocky shores of the Japan Sea offer spectacular vistas. Paddling, swimming, scenic drives and delicious seafood make a trip to the coast an unforgettable experience. Here are some “don’t miss” experiences along the Japan Sea Side.
- Every year, during the 10th lunar month, eight million Shinto deities gather at Izumo Taisha, Japan’s oldest shrine. It houses Okuninushi, the creator of Japan and deity of good relationships and marriage. Clap your hands four times—twice for yourself and twice for the one you desire.
- Geo-kayaking in crystal clear water through sea caves along the rocky coast of the Oki Islands.
- Visit Omori town’s ancient temples and shops, and forest-walk to Iwami Ginzan Silver Mine.
- Shaped like a massive pear, the Nijisseiki Pear Museum introduces us to Tottori’s renowned, crisp and tropically sweet 20th Century pear. Labour-intensive harvests yield 800 pears per tree, and each one is hand wrapped while still on the branch!
- Sakaiminato is a town overrun by Japanese folklore monsters called Yōkai. One hundred bronze statues from the popular manga GeGeGe no Kitarō line the main street from the train station to the Mizuki Shigeru Museum that houses the author’s works.
- Cross stone footbridges into white-walled, red-tiled storehouses from the Edo and Meiji era in Kurayoshi. Sixty shops sell local goods and crafts. Some brew a variety of saké and soy sauces. Ever tasted soy sauce ice cream? It’s an acquired taste.
- Chirihama Beach Driveway, 8 km long and 50 m wide, is made up of very fine sand that rain and seawater pack in so tightly that it is firm enough for buses to drive over it. A popular beach for sun bathers, it also doubles as a beach-highway.
- Rent a car and drive north from Kanazawa along the secluded and awe-inspiring coast of the Noto Peninsula.
Sado Island, Niigata
- The renowned Kodo Taiko drumming centre encapsulates the mystery and inspiration of Japan. Strike up the drums. Feel the cathartic vibration, switch off leadership positions and rally your troops.
- You can’t get more fresh than “alive.” The sushi master at Sado favourite, Chozaburo, holds up wiggling Iba ebi (shrimp), peels it apart and hands it to me. Directly from the port, a giant yellow tail is included in the most colourful palette of sashimi.
- Sado Island saké from Hokusetstu, Obata and Okeisa Shizu is stored in the tunnels of the gold mines. Hokusetstu, a favourite of Robert De Niro, has an exclusive contract with Nobu in NYC. While resting in tanks, the synthesizers of legendary Kitaro provide ultra-sonic agitation of the saké’s molecular structure. YK35 Daiginjo is milled to 65 percent. Very dry, it pairs with lightly seasoned chicken, fish or grilled vegetables. Oni Koroshi (Kill the Devil) is as smooth as silk. For this kind of saké, we must be delicate in our pairing— nothing overpowering. Saké should not change the complexion of food like wine does, it should be a subtle complement.
- A practical means for fishing in Ogi Town harbour, Tarai-Bune (Tub Boats) seem like DIY make-shift boats from wooden hot tubs in which women in traditional folk attire steer us around the bay.
- Ringo Kingdom has 1,200 trees with 65 varieties of apples ripe for the picking. Sample a variety of local apples, ciders and apple pie. During Spring Festival chefs bake a three-metre-wide apple pie — to share.
- Tsugaru Minamida Onsen’s outdoor hot spring looks like an invitation to bob for apples, but is said to smooth the skin while you soak. Also check out the cascading bath and bamboo charcoal bath.
- Nowhere is cherry blossom viewing more enchanting than at Hirosaki Castle Park Cherry Blossom Festival. A home to more than 2,600 cherry blossom trees of 50 varieties, Hirosaki Castle is one of the oldest and most beautiful in Japan. Dress up in Japanese feudal lord and princess costumes.