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Ishikawa Prefecture is situated on the Sea of Japan on the main island on Honshu. It’s an area of staggering scenic beauty, making this the perfect destination for an action-packed outdoor holiday. Ishikawa nature highlights range from remote wilderness areas on the Noto Peninsula to manicured Kenrokuen Garden, one of the Three Great Gardens of Japan. What follows is the definitive outdoor adventure guide for Ishikawa.
The variety of landscapes and habitats in Ishikawa makes its outdoor opportunities incredibly varied, and there’s something for every type of traveller. Sure, there’s hair-raising ski runs for the bold, and bracing coastal hikes, but there are also leisurely strolls and peaceful gardens to relax in. Among the glorious parks in Ishikawa is Kenrokuen Garden, one of the country’s most famous and a lesson in harmonious East Asian garden design. And when your feet need a total breather, there’s always a steamy hot spring (onsen) round the corner.
When you’re out and about in Ishikawa nature, whether you’re hiking or skiing, cycling or kayaking, you should take all the usual safety precautions that your sport demands. Ensure you have all the correct equipment and supplies for your excursion, dress appropriately (including layering up) and heed all local safety advice on the ground. If you’re striking out on your own, bring a map and plenty of food and water, and let someone know when you expect to be back. Taking the elements seriously is crucial, especially when you’re on unfamiliar terrain.
Kenrokuen is a leading example of East Asian garden design. Though this is a Japanese garden, it takes its principles in harmony and balance from Chinese landscape theory. Kenrokuen means “Garden of the Six Sublimities”; the sublimities in question are spaciousness, seclusion, artificiality, antiquity, flowing water and wide views. Combined, these features are meant to create the perfect garden, and walking around Kenrokuen, it’s hard to disagree. There’s plenty to admire on a short stroll, from quaint bridges to pretty teahouses, colourful flowers to grand standing stones, sweeping views and hidden nooks and crannies.
There are any number of hikes and walks in the Mount Hakusan area, including along Tedori Canyon (8km) and Kakusenkei Gorge (1.3km). However, the most popular route is undoubtedly the hike up Mount Hakusan itself. There are ten main trails that lead to the top, so you can choose one to suit your level of experience and ability. The most popular route takes a couple of days, so be prepared for an overnight stay. Heed all the usual hiking safety protocols, and bring enough layers to protect you from the elements on the mountain’s snow-capped peak.
For the best panoramas and terrific mountainscapes, take the gondola ride up to Shishiku Highland. You can sled from here, or just marvel at the splendid views. If you come in spring or summer, book a paragliding experience and see it like the birds do.
There’s no better way to get close to Ishikawa nature than by getting out and about in the great outdoors. Whether you’re a hiker, biker, skier or swimmer, you’ll find activities galore to suit every taste and budget.
You can reach Ishikawa by train, plane or bus. The shinkansen (bullet trains) and Express Trains run from Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto and Nagoya stations to Kanazawa Station (the main train hub) and takes between 2h30min to 3hr. Flights from Tokyo’s Haneda and Narita airports take 1hr–1hr25mins. Alternatively, you can take the bus from Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka (and more) in under 5hrs, although it’s worth pointing out that Tokyo’s night bus takes around 8hrs.
Top image: Ganmon Rock in Ishikawa Prefecture, Japan © Sean Pavone/Shutterstock
This article was created in partnership with Ishikawa Travel.