Exploring Ishikawa

The next prefecture in Exploring Japan is in the Chubu region, Ishikawa.

Ishikawa Prefecture is on the Japan Sea side of Honshu and much of it extends out into the sea on the Noto Peninsula.  It’s very historic and there are many natural places.  The population is 1,168,929.  The capital is Kanazawa.  The five biggest cities are:

  1. Kanazawa (462,478)
  2. Hakusan (110,654)
  3. Komatsu (109,285)
  4. Kaga (73,492)
  5. Nanao (58,204)

The population of Ishikawa is dropping, similar to many prefectures, though Kanazawa is growing.

Castles

Kanazawa Castle in Kanazawa was once a very impressive castle.  Today, several buildings have been reconstructed using traditional methods, so they are quite authentic looking.  They were reconstructed only recently, starting in 1999.

Things to see and do

Ishikawa Prefecture is one place I’ve always wanted to see because of the beautiful scenery on the Noto Peninsula, but also because of the historical districts in Kanazawa.

Kanazawa is probably one of the best cities in Japan to see very well preserved historic districts.  Arriving in Kanazawa by train, you’ll notice the amazing architecture of Kanazawa Station and the Tsuzumimon, a massive gate that was completed in 2005.  Probably the best place to see is Kenrokuen, one of the three most beautiful gardens in Japan.  The Nagamachi Samurai District is a great place to walk around in with very well preserved buildings.  Higashi-Chayamachi is a famous geisha district with many of the houses still in use.  Kazuemachi and Nishi-Chayamachi are other districts with well-preserved and restored geisha houses.  There are several temples and shrines worth seeing, as well.  Myoryuji, or the Ninja Temple (actually not related to ninja) seems like a very interesting place to tour.  Oyama Shrine has stained glass windows.  Tentokuin was the largest temple in Kanazawa during the Edo Period. Daijoji is an old Zen Buddhist temple that is very active. The 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art seems interesting. I’d also like to see the Ishikawa Prefectural Museum.  Of the festivals in Kanazawa, it seems that the Hyakuman-goku Festival is the one to see in early June.

Hakusan is probably best known for Hakusan National Park.

Kaga has some great natural beauty.  There are also several museums, such as Kitamaebune Ship Museum, Nakaya Ukichiro Museum of Snow and Ice, and Nippon Origami Museum.  There are also plenty of hot springs. Kaga is famous for its porcelain, so the Kutaniyaki Art Museum and Kiln Museum are good to see.

In Komatsu, the popular place to go is Nata-dera Temple, which has beautiful grounds and caves. You can also see the Motorcar Museum of Japan, which has 500 working cars.  Yunokunino Mori is a resort with plenty of traditional architecture to see.  Rojo Park is a beautiful park to see.

Nanao is the main city on the Noto Peninsula.  Here, you can see the Notojima Glass Art Museum, Le Musee de H Confectionary Museum, and the Nanao Art Museum.  All seem to be pretty interesting.  Nanao Castle Ruins has  very little in the way of ruins, but has a great view of the bay.  The Seihakusai Dekayama Festival looks very interesting with its huge floats. Notojima Aquarium looks to be pretty good. The Issaki Houtou Festival also looks interesting with its massive floats.

Wajima is a small city known for its lacquerware. It’s also known for its lanterns, so you can visit the Kiriko Museum or see the Wajima Taisai, a festival in which they carry large kiriko lanterns.  Also, along the coast is the 1000 Rice Fields, or Senmaida.  It’s a very scenic place with 1004 rice fields on a hillside.

Hakui is a small city that is famous for being the UFO capital of Japan.  There are a couple of things to see, the UFO Museum and the Sumo Festival in September.

Food

Ishikawa is well-known for its seafood.  There are many different fish and other seafood available, depending on what’s in season.  The Noto Peninsula is known for oysters.  Also, a popular local dish is Noto-don, a kind of donburi (rice bowl) dish that uses only local ingredients.  And finally, you can try Wagashi, a kind of sweet that’s made of rice and sweet bean paste.

Have you been to Ishikawa?  What do you recommend?

6 Comments

Filed under Ishikawa, Japan

6 responses to “Exploring Ishikawa

  1. I have been to Ishikawa Prefecture and Kanazawa several times. The main sights of Kanazawa can be seen a day, it also makes a great side trip along with Fukui Prefecture. Kanazawa also forms the new Golden Route of Japan along with Takayama and Shirakawago in Gifu Prefecture.

  2. We took one trip to Kanazawa. The city is very nice, but to a pair of Kyoto residents, the scenery is a bit familiar. The Ninja Temple was entertaining, though it requires advance reservations. We had really good seafood as well.
    On the way home, we stopped in Komatsu at a kashi-kiri onsen not far from the station. I remember nothing of the city, but the onsen was nice. The couple in the next door ofuro was very … vigorous.

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