Noto, with its country mountains and coastlines, has access to fantastic seasonal foods from land and sea through all four seasons. Combine this with the old-fashioned farming techniques and farm culture being passed down from generation to generation, and it’s no surprise that Noto is home to an incredibly rich food culture.
Warm and cold currents meet off the shore of the Noto Peninsula, making it one of Japan’s finest fishing areas. The incredible variety of seafood available to the fishers of the Noto Peninsula is the root of the area’s food culture. Noto-cho is one of the preeminent fixed-net fishing regions in Japan. The fish that grow up in the Sea of Japan have deliciously firm meat and a flavor that stands on its own: from December to February, kan-buri, or winter yellowtail, comes into season, bringing with it the flavor that makes the people of Noto-cho look forward to winter. The thunder that winter snowstorms bring is known as “Buri-okoshi,” serving as a signal that the winter yellowtail have become more active and easier for fishers to catch in the bay, and that the time has come for plenty of winter yellowtail to be available at the fish markets. The yellowtail of the extremely cold and choppy waters of the Sea of Japan store lots of fat for winter, giving them an exquisite flavor to match their wonderfully firm texture.
Winter in Noto is cold and consistently so — the people of Noto have learned to take advantage of this, giving rise to a unique culture of fermented foods. The rich variety of seafood available in Noto is used to make things like ishiri fish sauce by fermenting and aging squid, sardines, and other seafood. Noto is also famous for miso, sake, and koji malted rice. Fermented foods are great for improving digestion, helping people live healthfully and making them an indispensable part of the Noto lifestyle even today.