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7 Things to do in Ishikawa Prefecture, Full of Hokuriku Charm and Coastal Riches

Ishikawa Prefecture and its main city Kanazawa have some of the best charms and attractions in the Hokuriku region. From the famous Kenrokuen garden to the many relaxing onsens in the area, let’s look at some of the famous Ishikawa and Hokuriku charm!


Kenrokuen in winter

Japanese gardens are a highlight of any trip to the country, and there are three gardens in Japan known for their beauty and design. There are specific rules and guidelines that historically gardens would follow to achieve the perfect form. One of the three gardens is Kenrokuen, located in Kanazawa City. A perfect addition to a visit to the castle park, as the garden is quite close to the grounds, Kenrokuen has a plethora of beautiful features, such as the pond Kasumigaike and many cherry blossom and maple trees. During the winter, when the snow falls, trees in the garden are held up by what are called ‘yukitsuri’ or ‘yukizuri’, to make sure that they do not break under the weight of snowfall. While in the area, you can also check out the historic Oyama, Ishiura, or Kanazawa Shrines as well. A peaceful stroll through Kenrokuen is a perfect way to begin your journey through Ishikawa Prefecture. 

Mt. Haku

Mt. Haku, Copyright: Ishikawa Tourism Federation

Continuing on with our groups of three, Mt. Haku is known as one of the three most sacred mountains in the country. As the other two are Mt. Fuji and Mt. Tate (located in neighbouring Toyama Prefecture!), Mt. Haku is in some good company. Designated a national park in 1962, the peaks of Mt. Haku stand at slightly under 3000 metres, and while it is still an active volcano, it has been nearly 400 years since its last eruption. Hiking in summertime is a popular activity, as one can see alpine lakes and a variety of mountain flowers. With multiple trails leading to the summits of the mountain, you can easily access them by bus from Kanazawa Station. If you rent a car, you can also follow the Hakusan Shirakawa-go White Road that takes you through mountain roads in Hakusan National Park, leading you eventually to Gifu Prefecture. Along the way you encounter expansive views, tasty snacks, and even some opportunities for a quick bath in an onsen!

Nomura Residence

The Nomura Family Residence, Copyright: Ishikawa Tourism Federation

The Nomura Residence is a storied samurai residence located in Kanazawa’s Nagamachi Samurai District. As Kanazawa is known for its samurai history and connection with the Maeda Clan throughout the Edo Period, the residence is an opportunity to experience a glimpse of the daily life of Japanese samurai hundreds of years ago. The Nomura Residence also has a garden, a tea room, and a museum that features some heirlooms from the Nomura family. The Nagamachi Samurai District as a whole used to be a residential area for samurai and family, and has been faithfully preserved to keep the atmosphere as one walks around similar to the period when samurai were prominent. Outside of the Nomura Residence, the district has various museums and other historical buildings that can be visited. 

Shirayama Hime Shrine

Shirayama Hime Shrine, Copyright: Ishikawa Tourism Federation

No visit to Ishikawa Prefecture is complete without a visit to a shrine. Located at the foothills of Mt. Haku, south of Kanazawa, is the more than 2000 year old Shirayama Hime Shrine. There are thousands of shrines around Japan that are named ‘Hakusan’, however Shirayama Hime Shrine is known as the head shrine of all of them. Surrounded by beautiful forests and shrine architecture, you can visit the shrine to participate in purification rituals known as ‘misogi’ that involve bathing in water. Many people also use this shrine as a base area for a trek up the sacred mountain. Similar to other shrines and temples around the country, you can perform a shrine visit, or ‘sanpai’, and then purchase amulets and other souvenirs from the shrine office, ranging from good luck to warding off evil. 


The Ninja Temple, Copyright: Ishikawa Tourism Federation

For those interested in secret doors and hidden paths, Myoryuji in Kanazawa is one of the best spots that you can visit. Originally a military establishment created in the 17th century by the Maeda Clan, the temple holds many secrets. As per certain regulations during the 17th century from the Tokugawa Shogunate, buildings over two stories tall were not allowed. While the exterior may look like it only has 2 floors, the interior reveals that there are actually 4 floors to the building and even a watchtower that people used. While not directly associated with ninjas and ninja culture, the temple is sometimes called ‘ninjadera’. Easily accessible by bus from Kanazawa City, make sure to remember that tours of the temple are by reservation early, so be ready to make a booking.

Cape Amagozen

Cape Amagozen, Copyright: Ishikawa Tourism Federation

Ishikawa Prefecture is known for its natural beauty. One spot where you can fully experience the greatness of its nature is Cape Amagozen. Located near the city of Kaga, the cape gives magnificent views of the Sea of Japan and the coastline of Ishikawa. Filled with walking trails and nearby shops and restaurants, Cape Amagozen is a pristine location that shows some of the best of Japan’s coastline. As you are also in the Kaga area, make sure to stop by a few onsens as you explore, as Kaga is famous for having some wonderful spots to relax in and watch the world go by.

Tedori Canyon

Tedori Canyon, Copyright: Ishikawa Tourism Federation

Another hidden spot located near Mt. Haku, Tedori Canyon is made up of a small stretch of the Tedori River, which flows from Tedori Lake all the way to the Sea of Japan. You can get views of the mesmerising Wataga Falls by following a short path down the side of the canyon near the river. There are also great views of the canyon and the waterfall from some nearby bridges and a designated observation deck. For those interested in cycling, there are cycling routes that take you past the gorge and other sights, such as Shirayama Hime Shrine and a nearly 700 year old cedar tree, all while enjoying the fresh air and comfort of the Japanese countryside.

With Ishikawa Prefecture having such an abundance of things to do, there’s no doubt as to why it is one of the most popular destinations in the Hokuriku region. Ishikawa is well connected by train to Tokyo, and can be accessed in only a few hours by using the Hokuriku Shinkansen. So why not give the Hokuriku region a try, you’ll be sure to love it!


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