Shiroyone Senmaida is a series of terraced rice fields located on a steep slope in the town of Shiroyone in the east of Wajima City, Ishikawa Prefecture. Terraced rice paddies are built in a stepped pattern on the steep slopes of mountains and valleys. Shiroyone Senmaida is located on the northern side of the Noto Peninsula, on a steep slope facing the Sea of Japan, with many small rice paddies overlapping each other to form a picture-perfect landscape. Shiroyone Senmaida has been named one of Japan's top 100 terraced rice paddies and is a nationally-designated cultural asset and scenic spot representative of the Noto Peninsula.
In 2011, "Noto's Satoyama and Satoumi," which encompasses Shiroyone Senmaida, was recognized by the United Nations as a Globally Important Agricultural Heritage System (GIAHS). "Satoyama" refers to socio-ecological systems such as villages and farmlands while "Satoumi" refers to coastal areas which have a strong connection with peoples' livelihoods. GIAHS is a system that recognizes highly unique agriculture, forestry, and fishery industries, regions, and systems that have been passed down through generations. The area of each rice paddy in Shiroyone Senmaida is as small as 18 square meters, and the difference in elevation is about 50 meters, making it impossible to use large agricultural machinery. The ancestral method of rice cultivation in Noto's harsh terrain and natural environment has been handed down since ancient times.
No matter which season of the year you visit, the scenery is bound to tug at your heartstrings. The blue sky reflected in the shimmering, water-filled rice paddies in spring, the vivid green of the rice plants growing strong in summer, and the golden ears of rice swaying in the wind in autumn are a true sight to behold. "Twinkle of the Furrow" is an annual event held from fall through winter, during which more than 1,000 rice terraces are illuminated with 25,000 LED lights. For four hours after sunset, these lights change color every 15 minutes from green to pink, gold, and blue. The magical sight is bound to take your breath away.
Getting there and around
Wajima City is about a 2-hour trip from JR Kanazawa Station by Hokuriku Railroad Bus.
From Wajima, Shirayone Senmaida is about a 20-minute bus ride by Hokutetsu Okunoto Bus.
Roadside Station Senmaida Pocket Park／道の駅千枚田ポケットパーク
Roadside Station Senmaida Pocket Park offers a spectacular view of the scenic Shiroyone Senmaida rice terraces, and attracts many visitors during the "Twinkle of the Furrow" event, rice planting, and rice harvesting. Pocket Park's offers a menu featuring a variety of local foods from light meals such as rice balls freshly made from rice harvested in the terraced rice paddies, udon noodles with abalone broth, and soba noodles. Wajima's famous Egara Manju and soft serve ice cream are also very popular.
Shiroyone Senmaida Rice Planting
In Shiroyone Senmaida, rice planting begins in early May. Because the terraced rice paddies are too narrow and the difference in elevation renders the use of agricultural machinery impossible, farmers and volunteers do the work by hand. The grass needs to be trimmed many times due to the use of traditional farming methods that use little or no pesticides. In 2014, the traditional Japanese farming method of directly sowing rice seeds was revived. The sight of the terraced rice paddies reflecting the blue sky like a mirror on the surface of the water is truly magnificent.
Twinkle of the furrow
The bedazzling "Twinkle of the Furrow" illumination event, in which 25,000 LED (solar-powered) lights illuminate the terraced rice paddies of Shiroyone Senmaida, is held every year from late October to mid-March. Upon sunset, the solar panels generate electricity and light up the area in a myriad of colors alternating from pink to green, then gold to blue. Twinkle of the Furrow is a hugely popular annual light-up event. As the sun sets and the natural light dims, the LED lights gradually turn on, creating a magical, unforgettable sight.
The illumination times of Twinkle of the Furrow vary depending on the time of year, weather, etc., however the lights are always left on for approximately four hours after sunset.
Travel Advice and Tips
Shiroyone Senmaida is located near the tip of the Noto Peninsula, and the nearest accommodation is Wajima Hot Spring Village, about 15 minutes by car. Wajima Hot Spring Village offers a panoramic view of the Sea of Japan, and its hot springs are known for their skin-beautifying properties; namely silky-smoothness and suppleness.
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