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Hello Hokuriku! Hop on the Hanayome Noren Sightseeing Train

Hello Hokuriku! Hop on the Hanayome Noren Sightseeing Train

Due to the 2024 Noto earthquake, train services of the Hanayome Noren have temporarily been suspended. For updates, visit their website.


Mention Ishikawa Prefecture (石川県) and the first place that comes to mind is its capital Kanazawa (金沢), a city known for its glittering gold-leaf crafts, but have you been to the Noto Peninsula (能登半島)? With breathtaking scenery, fascinating traditional crafts, and relaxing seaside hot spring resorts boasting world-class hospitality, it makes for a great side trip from Kanazawa. 


In this article, we hop aboard the Hanayome Noren (花嫁のれん), one of Hokuriku’s most beloved sightseeing trains, which runs along the Nanao Line (七尾線) between Kanazawa Station (金沢駅) and Wakura-Onsen Station (和倉温泉駅) in the Noto Peninsula.


Bridal curtain and Hanayome Noren train at Kanazawa Station. (Image credit: Carissa Loh)


Operated by JR West, the Hanayome Noren is a sightseeing train that makes two round trips per day of operation. Did you know? In the Noto Peninsula, there is a wedding custom known as hanayome noren, which means “bridal curtain”. Families hang colourful curtains before the groom’s family altar, which the bride would pass through to receive blessing and join her new family. It is from this bridal custom that the train gets its name from.


Hospitality through Japanese tradition and beauty

The train’s lavish exterior features designs inspired by Wajima lacquerware. (Image credit: Carissa Loh)


The Hanayome Noren sightseeing train pays tribute to Ishikawa Prefecture’s local crafts, such as Kanazawa gold leaf (金箔 kinpaku), Wajima lacquerware (輪島塗 Wajima-nuri), and Kaga Yuzen kimono silk-dyeing (加賀友禅). The train’s exquisitely decorated bright red exterior is meant to resemble shiny lacquerware decorated with traditional kimono motifs and decadent gold accents.


Car 1:  Semi-private compartments with Kaga Yuzen decor

Car 1: semi-private compartments. (Image credit: Carissa Loh)


Step aboard the carriages and you’ll feel the train’s concept exuding from every little detail on the interior decoration. The concept for the train is “hospitality through Japanese tradition and beauty”, and the train itself is made up of two carriages that seat up to 52 passengers, with Car 1 having eight semi-private compartments. 


Each of the eight compartments is decorated with different Kaga Yuzen patterns on their walls, and the winding grey-carpeted aisle is meant to resemble a stone path in a Japanese garden.


Car 2: Wide windows with Wajima lacquerware

Car 2 has Wajima lacquerware designs on the ceiling and walls. (Image credit: Carissa Loh)


Car 2 features rotating seats and large, wide windows, with a carpet pattern meant to resemble flowing water. The walls and ceilings are covered with classic Wajima lacquerware patterns of leaves and flowers.


Window-facing seats in Car 2. (Image credit: Carissa Loh)


Some seats face the windows, which offer unobstructed views of Ishikawa’s scenic countryside. There are also box seats for four people, whether you’re travelling alone or with family, there are different types of seats to suit your needs.


Kanazawa gold leaf. (Image credit: Carissa Loh)


Of course, the train also features Kanazawa gold leaf, offering a luxurious atmosphere that highlights the beauty of Hokuriku’s traditions. Gold leaf is a very, very thin sheet of gold made by beating gold into a thickness of 0.1–0.125 millionths of a metre. Currently, Kanazawa produces a whopping 99% of the gold leaf in Japan.


Exhibition space and sales counter

Exhibition space and sales counter. (Image credit: Carissa Loh)


At the end of Car 1 close to Car 2, there is a section exhibiting traditional craftwork from Ishikawa, such as mizuhiki knot-work from Kaga, Wajima lacquerware, and more. There is also a sales counter selling Hanayome Noren limited edition souvenirs, as well as a variety of beverages for consumption.


Dessert for the ride. (Image credit: Carissa Loh)


I bought coffee from the sales counter―which came in a red paper cup bearing the Hanayome Noren designs and motif―to enjoy with the desserts which I had bought from Le Musée de H (ル ミュゼ ドゥ アッシュ) at Kanazawa Station before boarding the train. The desserts I got were the Burnt Cheesecake with Yuzu, the strawberry Noto Milk Pudding, and an Earl Grey Macaron.


Pastries from Le Musée de H . (Image credit: 石川県観光連盟)


Le Musée de H is a local patisserie offering delightful desserts made with carefully selected local ingredients from the Noto Peninsula and the Hokuriku region―a must-try when you’re in Ishikawa. Their desserts not only look good, but taste amazing as well, so I had to grab some at Kanazawa Station to enjoy on my ride on the Hanayome Noren. 


Dining options on board

Tipsy set. (Image credit: Carissa Loh)


If you don’t want to bring your own food, depending on which service of the Hanayome Noren you ride, you can pre-book special meal sets:

  • Hanayome Noren No.1: Confectionery set (スイーツセット)
  • Hanayome Noren No.2: Japanese-style refreshments set (和軽食セット)
  • Hanayome Noren No.3: Confectionery set (スイーツセット)
  • Hanayome Noren No. 4: Tipsy set (ほろよいセット)


Meal sets must be booked in advance from 1 month to 4 days before departure. Note that purchase of the meal set does not include the seat reservation; you still need to make a seat reservation separately. You can find out more about how to book the meal sets on the official English website here.


Let’s dig in! (Image credit: Carissa Loh)


I rode the Hanayome Noren No.1 departing Kanazawa, and No.4 on the way back, for which I reserved the Tipsy Set (ほろよいセット Horoyoi Setto), which came with bentō filled a variety of side dishes like grilled fish, pork, egg rolls, fish cakes, lotus roots, and more. The set also came with a bottle of burdock tea and a bottle of sake.


Kanpai! (Image credit: Carissa Loh)


The highlight of this set, and the reason why it’s called the “Tipsy Set”, was the bottle of junmai ginjō (純米吟醸) sake from Sogen Sake Brewery (宗玄酒造), a local brewery from the Noto Peninsula. The bottle was specially packaged with the Hanayome Noren red label, and also came with a paper-mache-like cup with the train’s logo. This sake was delicious and such a great souvenir that I bought home another one from the sales counter.


Exploring the Noto Peninsula

Nanao Station platform. (Image credit: Carissa Loh)


Most riders of the train either get off at the terminal station of Wakura-Onsen Station to spend the night at the hot springs, but I got off at Nanao Station (七尾駅), and was greeted by a bridal curtain on the platform, as well as large signs saying “Welcome to Nanao”. I had some time before my next sightseeing train for the day, Noto Railway’s Satoyama Satoumi sightseeing train, so I took a quick visit to the Hanayome Noren Museum (花嫁のれん館).


Hanayome Noren Museum

Hanayome Noren Museum. (Image credit: Carissa Loh)


The museum is less than a 10-minute walk from the train station, and was opened in 2016 to display hanayome noren bridal curtains from the region and let visitors enjoy them all year round. The bridal curtains were usually set aside once the wedding was over, so in 2004, female business owners in the region started holding hanayome noren exhibitions during Golden Week to display them and let visiting tourists from other regions get a glimpse of them.


Inside the Hanayome Noren Museum. (Image credit: 石川県観光連盟)


Inside the museum, you can see a variety of bridal curtains from the Meiji to Heisei Periods on display. The curtains are usually decorated with auspicious motifs and animals that represent longevity and happiness, as well as designs from the bride’s hometown. The museum also has an experience corner where visitors can don local wedding outfits and walk through the bridal curtain. 


Hanayome Noren Museum (花嫁のれん館)
Address: Tsu-bu 49, Madashimachi, Nanao, Ishikawa 926-0818
Access: 8-minute walk from JR Nanao Station (七尾駅)
Note: Due to the 2024 Noto earthquake, the museum is temporarily closed. You can visit their website to check for updates on the reopening.


Wakura Onsen

Wakura Onsen. (Image credit: 石川県観光連盟)


For many passengers of the Hanayome Noren, the train is a way to start off a short trip to Wakura Onsen, a luxurious hot spring (温泉 onsen) resort boasting a history of over 1,200 years. Located at Nanao Bay, the resort has over 25 inns (旅館ryokan), which offer guests immaculate hospitality (おもてなし). Did you know? The attendants on the Hanayome Noren train receive training from Kagaya (加賀屋), a prestigious ryokan renowned all over Japan for its unmatched high levels of hospitality.



Reserved seat ticket for the Hanayome Noren. (Image credit: Carissa Loh)


If you have the Japan Rail Pass or Hokuriku Arch Pass, you can ride the Hanayome Noren for free! However, as this train has reserved seats only, do remember to make a free seat reservation from a ticket vending machine or JR ticket counter (みどりの窓口 Midori no madoguchi). 


Due to the Noto earthquake in January 2024, train services of the Hanayome Noren have temporarily been suspended, but you can keep a lookout on their Japanese website to see when services will resume!


Header image credit: Carissa Loh


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