Jan 19, 2014

Tour of the Noto

Before venturing to Thailand, Mr.C, Olivia, and I took a day to explore a few treasures of our own Noto peninsula.
Driving through the snow... on the way to Noto-cho.

Olivia found this temple by accident one day, exploring narrow roads around her town. She took us here, and we were astonished by its beauty and tranquility.

Mr.C in the temple gate, surrounded by four Buddhas.

View of the sea and gardens from the temple gate.

Little stone temple guardians and attendants.

Inside the temple's entrance hall. The main hall's sliding doors were shut because no one else was there.

Olivia then drove us out into the "deep Noto" - a vast landscape of mountains, twisting roads, and thick forests. We were driving through rice paddies and trees when she stopped at a inconspicuous parking lot. There, out in the middle of nowhere, was a historical Japanese mansion called Tokikunike.

The walkway up to the old mansion, Tokikunike.

This Kami-hiro-ma was a waiting room for noble visitors. The golden swallow-tail butterfly on the sliding doors was the clan's emblem (similar to a family coat-of-arms).

This Ukagi-no-ma was the attendant's room, just after the lord's room. Only higher ranking officials were allowed to be admitted into the lord's room and beyond.

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The garden's man-made river is shaped into the kanji (Chinese character) for heart 心. The cloth in the bathtub was kept inside during bathing to keep the tub clean. The turtle is a tiny part of the intricate sewing details of a golden kimono.

The home shrine is very unique because it combines Buddhist temple architecture with Shinto shrine elements. The stove was an old-fashioned dirt hole in the ground, the fan is made of gold leaf, and there was another garden outside the kitchen exit.

The tatami floors were very cold, so visitors are given handmade red slippers to keep their toes from freezing. Above some of the rooms were detailed "mirage" (different image on front and back) wood carvings. I thought this toy was interesting because it was photographed doing acrobatics. The image is the outside of the Tokikunike. I could not get a photo of it myself because it was under renovation.

After our tour of the old Japanese mansion, we got back in the car to venture further up the Noto as Olivia drove us to a "surprise destination."

Driving along the coast, mountains on one side and the sea on the other. The photos couldn't quite capture the beauty of the ride.

We pulled up to a big warehouse-looking building with elements of ancient Shinto shrine architecture. A big kanji on the outside read 祭 (festival). We were at the Kiriko Museum!

The Kiriko Museum has several kiriko lanterns from all the major festivals in the Noto.
(Google automatically added "glowing lights" to this photo - I don't know how it happened, but I'm glad it did.)

The hall of kiriko lanterns.

Other festivals were represented too, like this giant pirate ship kite from the Uchinada Kite Festival.

Creepy doll, eh?

Not sure which festival this is, but apparently it involves too much sake.

A festival of overflowing rice bowls.

The endless sea, right outside the entrance to the Kiriko Museum.

After a fun day exploring the Noto, we went back to Olivia's to make homemade nabe (soup made in a special cooking pot). Once we were warm and toasty, it was time to venture out into the snow and make our way home, reminiscing on new memories made.

Growing up in Michigan, I thought that snow had lost its magic. Seeing it drift down onto the trees on the way home restored its beauty in my eyes.


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