Wajima, Ishikawa

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Wajima City Hall
Wajima City Hall
Flag of Wajima
Official logo of Wajima
Location of Wajima in Ishikawa Prefecture
Location of Wajima in Ishikawa Prefecture
Wajima is located in Japan
Coordinates: 37°23′26″N 136°53′57″E / 37.39056°N 136.89917°E / 37.39056; 136.89917Coordinates: 37°23′26″N 136°53′57″E / 37.39056°N 136.89917°E / 37.39056; 136.89917
RegionChūbu (Hokuriku)
PrefectureIshikawa Prefecture
 • - MayorFumiaki Kaji
 • Total426.32 km2 (164.60 sq mi)
(February 1, 2018)
 • Total27,698
 • Density65/km2 (170/sq mi)
Time zoneUTC+9 (Japan Standard Time)
City symbols 
-FlowerPrimula farinosa subsp. modesta
Phone number0768-22-2211
Address2-29 Futatsuyamachi, Wajima-shi, Ishikawa-ken 928-8525

Wajima (輪島市, Wajima-shi) is a city located in Ishikawa Prefecture, Japan. As of 31 January 2018, the city had an estimated population of 27,698 in 12768 households, and a population density of 65 persons per km², in 29,304 households.[1] The total area of the city was 426.32 square kilometres (164.60 sq mi).


Wajima occupies the northwestern coast of Noto Peninsula and is bordered by the Sea of Japan on the north and west. Parts of the city are within the borders of the Noto Hantō Quasi-National Park. The island of Hegurajima, located 47 kilometers from the north coast of Noto Peninsula is administratively part of the city of Wajima.

Neighbouring municipalities[edit]


Per Japanese census data,[2] the population of Wajima has declined over the past 40 years.

Census Year Population
1970 48,220
1980 45,115
1990 40,309
2000 34,531
2010 29,858


Wajima has a humid continental climate (Köppen Cfa) characterized by mild summers and cold winters with heavy snowfall. The average annual temperature in Wajima is 13.4 °C (56.1 °F). The average annual rainfall is 2,300 mm (91 in) with September as the wettest month.The temperatures are highest on average in August, at around 25.6 °C (78.1 °F), and lowest in January, at around 2.9 °C (37.2 °F).[3]

Climate data for Wajima, Ishikawa (1981-2010)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 6.1
Daily mean °C (°F) 3.1
Average low °C (°F) 0.2
Average precipitation mm (inches) 212.3
Average snowfall cm (inches) 84
Average relative humidity (%) 74 73 71 70 73 79 81 79 79 76 75 75 75
Mean monthly sunshine hours 43.3 64.5 127.4 187.5 201.9 157.2 156.1 206.8 138.2 142.0 88.4 51.6 1,564.9
Source: Japan Meteorological Agency


The area around Wajima was part of ancient Noto Province, and was a noted seaport for trade with the Asian continent. During the Sengoku Period (1467–1568), the area was contested between the Hatakeyama clan, Uesugi clan and Maeda clan, with the area becoming part of Kaga Domain under the Edo period Tokugawa shogunate. It remained a noted seaport for the Kitamaebune coastal trade between Osaka and Hokkaido.

Following the Meiji restoration, the area was organised into Hōsu and Fugeshi districts. The town of Wajima was established with the creation of the modern municipalities system on April 1, 1889. It was raised to city status on March 31, 1954 after merging with the neighbouring villages of Oya, Kawarada, Konosu, Nishiho, Mii, and Najimi. On February 1, 2006, the town of Monzen was merged into Wajima.

On March 25, 2007, the 2007 Noto earthquake caused one death, injuries, and damage to property in Wajima and other parts of Ishikawa Prefecture.[citation needed]


Wajima has a mayor-council form of government with a directly elected mayor and a unicameral city legislature of 20 members.


Commercial fishing, tourism, agriculture and the production of lacquerware are mainstays of the local economy.


Wajima has ten public elementary schools and three middle schools operated by the city government, and two public high school operated by the Ishikawa Prefectural Board of Education. There is also one private high school.


Local attractions[edit]

Wajima Lacquerware[edit]

The town is known in Japan for its lacquerware, called Wajima-nuri (Japanese: 輪島塗). There are artifacts showing lacquer was used to decorate and strengthen a shrine door from the 14th century. Wajima-nuri uses a technique that is unique to the area, mixing a finely powdered mineral, jinoko[4], with the lacquer in the early stages of production for extra durability. The rougher, earlier layers are then coated with more layers of finer lacquer, which is polished to a lustrous shine, and often decorated with designs made of gold and other precious materials. The lacquer tree was once abundant in the area but is now scarce and most of the lacquer used is imported from China.

Wajima Morning Market[edit]

The market in Wajima

The Wajima Morning Market (Japanese: 輪島朝市) is open every day except the 2nd Wednesday and 4th Wednesday of each month (and January 1–3 every year). Opening hours are from 8:00 AM to noon. Visitors can stroll through the many stalls of fresh seafood, lacquerware, and other handicrafts.

1000 Rice Fields[edit]


"1000 Rice Fields" (Japanese: 千枚田, translit. Senmaida)) is one of the most scenic places in Ishikawa. There are actually 1004 fields which are either owned and tended to by families, or rented out and looked after by the locals. Each year in the last week of September two couples are drawn from a nationwide lottery to have their wedding ceremony at Senmaida. The event is open to the public.

As a memorial to the Noto earthquake, a tradition of lighting the fields began. Initially this was done with millions of candles placed around each field following the harvest. Due to the popularity of the spectacle, solar LED lanterns are now used allowing the fields to be lit nightly. The lanterns are installed at the end of September and are left up through March when work on the fields begins again. The fields remain lit for about four hours after sunset.[5]

Kiriko Museum[edit]

Wajima's museum of kiriko (Japanese: キリコ) lanterns is open every day of the year from 8:00am to 5:00pm (8:30am to 4:00pm from December to February). Kiriko are large paper lanterns traditional to the area.[6]

Wajima Taisai[edit]

Every year from August 22 to 25 Wajima comes alive with a four-day festival known as Wajima Taisai (Japanese: 輪島大祭). Visitors can watch a huge (10 metres (33 feet) tall) kiriko lanterns and smaller paper lanterns being carried through the streets along with portable shrines called omikoshi. Visitors can eat festival foods, listen to taiko drums being played, and watch the main event. At the festival climax, seaside stacks of bamboo poles are torched as bonfires (some four or five stories high). Gohei (decorative strips of white paper used in Shinto rituals) is tied to the bamboo. As the fire consumes the poles, competing groups of men struggle to pull down the blazing piles, claiming as their prize pieces of burnt bamboo along with the gohei attached as symbols of good fortune. Victors then climb to the top of their respective kiriko to hang their prize, purportedly to add to the good fortune of their village in the coming year.

The giant kiriko lanterns are indispensable to festivals celebrated in Noto. Wajima's festival kiriko are especially distinctive because of their Wajima lacquer coatings. The lanterns bear the inscription of a three-character kanji poem and, on the reverse side, the village crest from where the kiriko originate.

The Story of the Taisai (Great Festival) depicts the love story between two Kami (gods): the Kami of the forest (a half blind male deity) and the Kami of the seven islands (the female deity) that are just off the coast of Wajima. Once a year the people of Noto guide the male Kami from his forest home through the city, while stopping at every business, home, and shrine to give blessings to the people of Wajima, and eventually to meet his wife at the sea. To guide him they carry bright lights (the kiriko) and beat taiko (drums) that are in the kiriko. The taiko of Noto are generally played by two or more people, with the base beat played by the kobi and the main rhythm played by the obai on a shared taiko. Shinabue and atarigane accompany.

The main event takes place on the third night of the festival at midnight at Wajima Marine Park.[7]


Gojinjo-daiko (御陣乗太鼓) is a Japanese drumming style, which is elected as a Wajima City's cultural heritage (appointed in 1961) and an Ishikawa Prefecture's intangible cultural heritage(appointed in 1963), consisting a part of Noto, Ishikawa’s GIAHS (Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems), which was appointed in 2011 as the first area in Japan by Food and Agriculture Organization.[8][9]

Playing gojinjo-daiko is strictly restricted to residents in Nafune, a small village within Wajima, where only 250 people live. It is very rare to see a live drum performance.[10]

The origin of the gojinjo-daiko dates back to 1577 when the famous general, Uesugi Kenshin invaded Noto. Because local people had no weapons, they resisted by beating war drums and wore ferocious looking devil masks with seaweed on their heads to scare off their enemies. The low sound of drums sound associated with the rumbling of the earth frightened off the invaders.[11][12][13]

Wajima Crab Festival[edit]

The Wajima Crab Festival (Japanese: 輪島かに祭り) takes place each year in mid-November. Visitors can purchase fresh seafood and sit at one of many large, long tables and barbecue their own meal.[14]

Kanakura Light Festival[edit]

Kanakura is in the northern part of the Noto Peninsula. It is a small, peaceful village with ancient temples and rice terraces. It celebrates an annual light festival (matsuri) in which the residents place one candle in each of 20,000 glass sake cups and arrange them in geometric configurations after dark while listening to traditional Japanese music. The event is held on August 16.[15]


  1. ^ Official home page
  2. ^ Wajima population statistics
  3. ^ Wajima climate data
  4. ^ "History and Culture of Wajima-Nuri:Wajima Museum of Urushi Art". www.city.wajima.ishikawa.jp. Retrieved 2018-04-23.
  5. ^ Mainichi
  6. ^ [1] Archived May 25, 2009, at the Wayback Machine.
  7. ^ Wajima City Archived August 21, 2009, at the Wayback Machine.
  8. ^ "Noto's Satoyama and Satoumi Gallary". Noto Regional GIAHS Executive Committee. Retrieved 2012-06-11.
  9. ^ "GIAHS appointment". Ishikawa Prefecture. Retrieved 2012-06-11.
  10. ^ "Gojinjo Daiko". Gojinjo Daiko of ART. Retrieved 2012-06-11.
  11. ^ "att Japan Travel Guide". Inex Co., Ltd. Retrieved 2012-06-11.
  12. ^ "att Gojinjo Daiko". Wajima City. Retrieved 2012-06-11.
  13. ^ "Nahune Gojinjo Daiko". Ishikawa Prefecture Tourism League. Retrieved 2012-06-11.
  14. ^ "輪島の魚を食べよう!加能ガニ(石川県産ズワイガニ)解禁2012|JF石川輪島支所" (in Japanese). Jf-net.ne.jp. Retrieved 2012-12-23.
  15. ^ Nihon-Kankou

External links[edit]