Country roads, streets, and highways wind through and around the Noto Peninsula’s landscape. On the west side, a long sandy beach stretches for miles, giving way to cliffs, dense forests, and steep hills. In the north, Inhabitants have long utilized the wet hills for rice paddies, and on the east, rocky beaches host a number of communities and daily fleets of fisherman. The area around Noto Island is quite stunning, with two bridges to the island enclosing the tranquil Nanao-nishi Bay. Many old towns in the area still thrive with family farms leading right up to the thick forests.

Our walk through a nature preserve at Nagasaki (the town, not the large southern city), guided by local legend, Nobuhide Gennai showed us a stunning example of the ecosystem of the island. We hiked through wet undergrowth and up through steep trails up to the tree-lined cliffs. A huge number of edible plants and mushrooms grow in these forests, most of them known by Gennai, who catalogs the many species of the forest.

There are a huge number of road cycling opportunities around Ishikawa, taking you along beaches or into the heart through windy forest roads. The Noto Peninsula is very hilly, though never reaching a very high altitude. Many roads stay in the lowlands, particularly by the sea, but further inland, country roads everywhere offer an opportunity for a hilly workout ride with stunning vistas of forests, Japanese architecture, and the Sea of Japan.