Ishikawa Prefecture (石川県 Ishikawa-ken) is located in the Chūbu region in central Honshū and bounded by the Sea of Japan on the west and the north, Toyama Bay and Toyama and Gifu prefectures on the east, and Fukui Prefecture on the south. It is divided into the Kaga region to the south and the Noto Peninsula to the north. There are several islets north of Noto in the Sea of Japan, the largest of Hegurajima. The southern part of Kaga is mostly mountainous, while the area around the capital Kanazawa forms the prefecture's most extensive plain. The Noto Peninsula is hilly, with an uneven coastline creating many natural harbours. Precipitation is substantial, and the weather is frequently cloudy.


Kenroku-en (photo credit: bryan - CC BY-SA)


The area that nowadays constitutes Ishikawa Prefecture was once part of Echizen Province (越前国 Echizen-no-kuni) as established under the Kokugun system in 646. In 718, four northern Echizen districts were made into Noto Province, and in 823 two eastern districts into Kaga Province. In the 15th century, the Ikkō-Ikki movement overthrew Togashi Masachika, the shugo (military governor) of Kaga and controlled the region for almost 100 years. Later, both Noto and Kaga came under the powerful Maeda clan's rule who fostered scholarship and arts. In 1872, Kaga and Noto were combined and formed the present Ishikawa Prefecture. The southern part of the former Echizen Province is now part of Fukui.


In the Kanazawa Plain, rice is grown, while fishing is a major industry on the Noto Peninsula. There are local textile and heavy machinery plants. Ishikawa is famous for several traditional handicrafts, such as Wajima-Nuri (輪島塗) lacquerware and Kutani ware (九谷焼 Kutani-yaki).


Kutani ware (photo credit: Belluna)

Ishikawa Prefecture Facts:

  • 1,142,603 residents (April 2018)
  • 4,186.09 square kilometres
  • Population density: 273 inhabitants per square kilometre


In 2015, the Hokuriku Shinkansen line was opened, facilitating the access to Kanazawa, the capital of Ishikawa, and the Hokuriku region. Since then, tourism in Kanazawa has been surging, with scores of domestic and foreign visitors attracted by the old architecture, the famous garden, traditional craftsmanship, and of course its splendid cuisine. The Shinkansen ride from Tokyo to Kanazawa takes about 2.5 hours (14,320 JPY for a reserved seat), the Thunderbird from Ōsaka takes about 2 hours and 45 minutes (7,850 JPY).


1000 Rice Fields (千枚田) in Wajima (photo credit: kobaken++ - CC BY-NC-ND)

Places of interest:

  • Kanazawa: Kenroku-en (one of the three top-ranked gardens of Japan); Kanazawa Castle Park, the massive castle of the Maeda clan that has been partly reconstructed and the surviving Ishikawa Gate built in 1788; 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art inaugurated in 2004; DT Suzuki Museum dedicated to the Buddhist philosopher Daisetsu Teitaro Suzuki who introduced Zen to the West; Ishikawa Prefectural Museum of Traditional Products and Crafts; Kanazawa Phonograph Museum; Ishikawa Historical Museum; Nagamachi, the district with the bukeyashiki, the former samurai quarter with the Nomura Residence; Higashi-Chaya-Gai, the former geisha district with its narrow streets and wooden facades; Teramachi, next to Higashi-Chaya-Gai, with its Buddhist temples; Ōmi-chō Market (a fish market between Kanazawa Station and Katamachi with lots of fishmongers and seafood restaurants); Myōryū-ji, the "Ninja Temple" (Ninja-dera) with hidden stairways, secret chambers, escape routes, tunnels and trick doors.
  • Noto Peninsula (Noto-hantō): famous for its rugged coastline, rural life and delicious seafood. Sights to see: Wajima Morning Market (輪島朝市); Wajima Lacquerware Museum (Noto is renowned for its Wajima-Nuri lacquerware and Suzu pottery); Ganmon Cliffs; Noto Glass Museum; Yanagida Botanical Gardens, 1000 Rice Fields (千枚田), etc.
  • Hakusan: Hakusan National Park (白山国立公園 Hakusan Kokuritsu Kōen) spreads over four prefectures, Ishikawa, Fukui, Gifu, and Toyama; Hakusan itself is a sacred mountain towering at 2,702 metres. Other sights: Hakusan City Matto Furusato-kan Folk Museum; Nakagawa Kazumasa Memorial Museum of Art; Hakusan City Tsurugi Museum; Hakusan Torigoe Ikko-Ikki Museum (for history buffs); Hakusan Sabo Science Center, etc.


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