So it’s winter here and apart from watching monkeys warming themselves at a certain onsen taken over by hordes of tourists, you don’t know what else to do. But it’s a chance to go out and find a more relaxed, calmer Japan, and quietly take in its beauty.
A rainy day usually means a starless night. The conditions seem far from ideal for my next stop, terraced rice paddies, but as luck would have it a delicate rainbow has just emerged to remind me there is beauty in contrasts, not only in perfection.
Here I am at Shiroyone Senmaida (One Thousand Rice Paddies in Shiroyone – 白米の千枚田), on the Noto Peninsula, a place rather off the tourist trail. As the attractive town of Kanazawa is on the way, it's difficult to leave, and easier to let yourself be carried away by the range of delicious restaurants and the town's character! However, the Noto Peninsula is filled with secrets, and this is one of them.
Yes, there are a thousand rice fields here, 1004 to be precise. They overlook the Sea of Japan and, all lit up at this time of year, are reflected once in the sky and once again on the water.
Few people come here as it is, let alone think of strolling through the rice paddies. There's no doubt that it’s freezing cold, and the ocean being so close doesn’t help.
In 2007, an earthquake centred on the small town of Wajima (lit up in the background of photo below) caused panic in the Noto Peninsula. Such seismic intensity is very rare and disturbing in this relatively calm zone, so the residents vowed to illuminate Senmaida from that moment on.
Between the extremes of coldness and warmth, darkness and light, past and future, or the famous tradition and modernity, a highway seems to be taking shape here. One year is ending and I’m alive, we aren’t entirely digitized, and between the shades of grey there always emerges an incredible dimension of colours.
The path traced out isn’t there to be followed but, on the contrary, to highlight its surroundings. Over to us to appreciate it.