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Field Guide

Benten-iwa, Hakusan Shrine, and the Sea’s Bounty

Visit and learn about beautiful Benten-iwa and the maritime culture that flourishes in the Nou Area.

3 hrs

Notice Regarding Route Information

A. Start: Itoigawa Station Benten-iwa Geosite Difficulty: Easy. Open all Year! B. Road Station — Marine Dream Famous for Kaniya Yokocho, the largest red queen crab market in Japan, Marine Dream Nou offers an extensive selection of exquisite seafood caught from the top-ranked Nou Harbor. You can also enjoy a number of restaurants and leisure facilities at this seaside landmark. Don’t forget to visit the Etsuzanmaru Maritime Museum. C. Benten-iwa & Itsukushima Shrine Benten-iwa, as this small island is called, is a mass of rock expelled from a submarine volcano 1 million years ago. The shrine that sits upon it is called Itsukushima Shrine, dedicated to the sea goddess Ichikishimahime-no-mikoto. From the Edo Period up until the end of the 19th century, this port was a stop for the Kitamaebune ships which travelled between here and Osaka. The fishermen and seamen which use this port still pray here for safety to this day. It is said that the success of the Nou Harbor and Kaiyo Maritime High School are due to the blessings of Benten-iwa. Hakusan Shrine and National Treasures Hakusan Shrine's main hall was built in 1515 and is representative of Muromachi Period architecture. For this reason it has been designated a National Treasure, but it doesn’t stop there! The shrine is a veritable treasure trove of nationally recognized treasures including an ancient wooden statue of Kannon and votive paintings of boats. A centuries old court dance performed annually at the Spring Festival is also designated as an Intangible Folk Culture Property. The shrine forest is also home to rare wildlife like the Himeharu Cicada and the Siebold snail, which was once revered as a sacred animal by seamen. Hakusan Tunnel and Kubiki Cycling Road The entrance to Hakusan Tunnel (320m) is made of brick which is said to have either have been produced here or possibly in Noto Peninsula toward the end of the Meiji Period. Built originally as a railway, a large landslide on 16 March 1963 toppled a steam locomotive carrying passengers at the tunnel’s east entrance. Abandoned when the new Hokuriku Main Line was built, this tunnel is now part of the Kubiki Cycling Road and offers cyclists and pedestrians alike a beautiful view of Nou Harbor on their way to Marine Dream Nou. Benten-iwa Geosite Field Guide Benten-iwa Geosite Field Guide