A Pocket Guide to Ishikawa, Japan

A coastal prefecture famed for culture-packed cities, pretty fishing villages and a culinary scene as delicious as those of Tokyo and Kyoto. Tap into Ishikawa’s creative energy with our ultimate guide to the area’s best hotels, restaurants and attractions, including the workshops, markets and Japanese gardens not to miss.

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Snow-tipped mountains back ancient towns decorated with artisan workshops. Paddy fields tumble into the ocean. Fertile farms and fishing boats laden with seafood make their way to lively morning markets.

Situated on Japan's rugged northern coast, Ishikawa showcases all of Japan's best bits: culture, craftsmanship and exceptional cuisine. As destinations go, it flies relatively off the radar of travellers who beeline for Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka. But they'll be missing out on the prefecture's culture-packed cities, thriving craft scenes and a smorgasbord of regional delicacies.

While there's no one right way to tackle Ishikawa, we recommend kicking off your itinerary in Kanazawa, Ishikawa's capital and home of the Maeda clan for 14 generations from the 16th century. Through generous funding, the family established the city's reputation as an artistic enclave. Today, dip in and out of Kanazawa Castle and museums stacked with precious wares before rolling up your sleeves get stuck in the vast array of workshops. Kanazawa's residents are keen to share the knowledge passed through generations. Slow-paced travel reigns supreme here. Drive along the Mitsuboshi Kaidou, or so-called "Three-star Road" - to connect with Ishikawa's cultural heritage.

Cultural appetite satisfied, whisk yourself to the Noto Peninsula, where you'll find artistry of a different kind: in the buzzy kitchens, on plates piled high with sashimi and in markets stalls teeming with farm-fresh produce. Fuelled up, sink into a slower pace of travel courtesy of Kaga's rejuvenating hot-spring villages, where steamy baths are said to hold restorative properties.

Intrigued? We've scoured museums, gorged on seafood suppers and bedded down in rejuvenating ryokans across Ishikawa to bring you the prefectures's best hotels, restaurants and cultural attractions.

For more information and to get planning, visit www.ishikawatravel.jp.


Maki No Oto Kanazawa

Hidden among the timeless chaya houses and manicured Japanese gardens in Kanazawa’s historic Higashi Chaya District is this peaceful, four-room ryokan. Mirroring traditional chaya house architecture – lattice on the outside, tatami (mats of woven straw) and clean, minimalist lines on the inside – Maki No Oto embodies Kanazawa’s well-regarded history of artistry. Sample Ishikawa’s finest farm-to-plate kaiseki menu before retreating to one of the immaculate guest rooms – snag the NISHI room for its bath overlooking the foliage-filled patios.


1-5-8 Kannon-cho, Kanazawa City, Ishikawa 920-0838



After pounding the pavements packing in the museum visits and exercising newfound creative skills, it’s time for some well-deserved R&R. Situated in Yamanaka, a small hot spring village, Kayotei is a boutique bolthole catering to long, relaxing soaks in rejuvenating baths. Spend time wallowing in the al fresco bath that overlooks the gorge’s dense forest, before retreating to one of ten traditionally designed rooms. Japanese customs are celebrated and preserved in each.


1-17-1, Higashimachi, Yamanaka Onsen, Kaga City, Ishikawa 922-0114



Escape from the humdrum of city life with a few days spent foraging and feasting on the Noto Peninsula. Perched on a lush hillside and overlooking sake-clear waters, Forest is a rustic, farm-style guesthouse reserved for only one group of travellers each stay. Spend time with villagers foraging the surrounding land, harvesting seaweed or collecting seashells. Come evening, gather for banquets supplied by local farmers: octopus, seawater-cured sweet potato and autumnal mushrooms often crop up.


6-31-1 Wada, Monzen-Machi, Wajima City, Ishikawa 927-2176