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Ecotourism in Noto

From September 17th to 19th, 2013, we participated in a study tour in Wajima city (輪島市) and Suzu city (珠洲市) in Noto peninsula of Ishikawa prefecture. Among the series of experiences, I would like to focus on the aspect of Satoyama (里山) life in Noto.


Actually, almost everything we experienced in Noto can be related to Satoyama life. “Satoyama” originally means the hills and forestry areas closely connected to the people’s life in villages. Until the recent past, Japanese villagers would make use of Satoyama for their living: such as gathering firewood and edible wild plants, and so on. The term Satoyama has now become a keyword to indicate the life style that has “harmonious relation” with the environment; neither destroy nor exploit it. Some of this can still be seen among rural areas in Japan, such as Noto.


We stayed at Shunran-no-Sato (春蘭の里: Village of Cymbidium Goeringii) in Noto-cho (Noto town: 能登町). It is a kind of village that has 47 tourist homes. There is a small river running through the village which is surrounded by hills and forests. Facing aging society, several villagers have come up with an idea of utilizing the Satoyama life of their own to revitalize the village. Here in Shunran-no-Sato, villagers have made good use of their life style that had been established through their relationship with Satoyama. It was unfortunate that we didn’t have much time to experience many activities at Shunran-no-Sato, yet we could feel and enjoy the atmosphere and food of Satoyama.


In the following day, we moved to Kamikuromaru area in Suzu city and visited Ms. Caroline. She is a Suzu-yaki (Suzu ware: 珠洲焼) artist, and a practitioner of sustainable Satoyama life. She has a Suzu-yaki kiln, vegetable field, and rice field, and keeps chickens and bees; astonishingly, she maintains them all by herself. It is interesting to see that the one who realizes the value of Satoyama life is a foreigner: this seems to be a good lesson.


The idea of conserving Satoyama and Satoumi (里海) is becoming popular. Yet, most Satoyama in Japan are in danger by being abandoned: those villages that would take care of Satoyama are declining everywhere. This is of course, for the economical reason, but I think there are something more behind: this is because it is difficult for the local people to realize the value of Satoyama; everything is too familiar to them. In this situation, it is the people like Ms. Caroline who make Japanese realize the significance of Satoyama, and can give us a clue to solve those problems.




Ecotourism 01
Satoyama Life