Rich in culture and history, Ishikawa Prefecture is better known by its capital city of Kanazawa, sometimes called “Little Kyoto,” for its castle, gardens, temples, and well-preserved old town districts. On the northern coast of Honshu Island, Ishikawa Prefecture looks to the Sea of Japan, with its northern tip of the Noto Peninsula extending 100 kilometers into the ocean. Rural and untouched, rice fields spread across the central part of Ishikawa Prefecture contrast the rugged cliffs above the sea along the Kongo Coastline, and in turn, they’re pitted against the solid mountains to the southeast, where Mount Haku dominates the beautiful alpine trails of Hakusan National Park. The power of natural scenes combined means that the Ishikawa Prefecture boasts gourmet food, as well as local arts and crafts, shopping, and regional museums.
Although it’s a compact city, Kanazawa packs a punch with its many cultural offerings. Centered around Kanazawa Castle and the traditional garden of Kenrokuen (the “perfect garden” all year round), the city also has a number of old town districts from the Edo period days, for another dose of nostalgia. In particular, the Higashi Chaya District is notable for its well-preserved tea houses, now filled with quaint cafes and artisanal shop fronts selling gold leaf handicrafts. Like Kyoto, the city and the greater prefecture takes great care in its creations (such as local pickles) and production (including local sake), extending to pride in the refined craftsmanship of locally-sourced food. For example, the locally-grown Kaga vegetables from the rich soils around the onsen hot spring town of Kaga City are popular for their high-quality and delicious flavors, and are often used in colorful parfaits or unusual handmade wagashi Japanese sweets. With exquisite local food from its diverse landscape, the beautiful Ishikawa Prefecture offers some untouched natural gems found in this rural side of coastal Japan.
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