Thanks to the newly opened Noto International Airport, Noto Peninsula in Ishikawa Prefecture is now just a one-hour flight from Tokyo, making one of the Hokuriku region's most popular tourist spots -- famed for its hot springs, local festivals, beaches and mountain scenery -- far more accessible.

Noto's pristine beauty is a big draw. This hook of land projecting into the Japan Sea has retained a magical unspoiled quality that is hard to find elsewhere. There are no neon signs, garish signboards or skyscrapers in sight. Even after the airport opened in July 2003, Noto's unspoilt environment has stayed unspoilt thanks to the unstinting efforts of local residents.

Of course, this does not necessarily mean that the area is a mere cluster of old and remote villages. Rather, it boasts many interesting sightseeing spots that perfectly encapsulate its vibrant culture, history and unique traditions.