Get back to nature and tradition in rural Ishikawa
A trip to this authentic and rural pocket of Japan is the perfect opportunity to unplug, unwind in beauty and nature and discover the delights of slow travel. Home to spectacular mountains, coastline and forests, Ishikawa is filled with green havens where the locals still use century-old traditions and methods to tend and enjoy the land’s bountiful natural resources.
Here’s a few ways you can immerse yourself in some of these wonderful natural experiences and cultural traditions:
Learn about traditional Salt Farming
Okunoto Shiota Village is the only salt field in Japan that has preserved the traditional salt making method of ‘Agehama’. Enrich yourself in the Noto region’s coastal landscape with a hands-on experience, making salt from seawater on a deep-sea beach. Reservations are required for this unique salt making experience, with 2 hour and 2-day course available from 1 May – 30 September.
Try therapeutic Forest Bathing
Japan has grown itself a reputation as a mecca for Forest Bathing – the act of surrounding yourself in the green colours and air of a living forest. Ishikawaken Forest Park is a short 25-minute drive from the prefecture’s capital city, Kanazawa, and is a designated Forest Therapy Base – where therapeutic effects have been confirmed.
Cycle with environmentalists
The Noto Note Cycling tour traverses the rural countryside and coastline of Noto Peninsula, which was designated a Globally Important Agricultural Heritage System in 2011 due to its preservation of many of Japan’s old natural landscapes, the first for a developed country. During the cycle, travellers can gain a deeper understanding and appreciation of the natural surrounds from the tour’s leaders who are environmental studies specialists, whilst experiencing the slow countryside and interacting with locals.
Bathe in a hot spring
Ishikawa is renowned for its hot spring (onsen) culture. A stay in luxury onsen resort being the perfect way to end a ski trip in the winter months or a day of adventure and pure relaxation in summer. Kaga Onsen is a collection of four traditional hot spring villages that is located south of Kanazawa. Of these, Yamanaka Onsen is a quaint resort located along the Kakusenkei Gorge. The village’s hot springs were discovered more than 1,300 years ago by a monk and are known for producing some of the best waters in the region that are enjoyed by both visitors and locals year-round.
Hike Mount Hakusan
Embrace the outdoors with a hiking adventure in Mount Hakusan National Park. Mount Hakusan is one of Japan’s three most sacred mountains, as well as being the nation’s tallest peak west of the Japanese Alps which peaks at 2,702 metres. The most popular route up the mountain is the Bettodeai Trailhead, which takes 8 – 10 hours to make the round-trip to the summit, with the Sabo Shindo trail being faster to climb with a softer gradient and the Kanko Shindo running along a ridge with panoramic views of the surrounding mountains. Once at the top of the mountain, hikers are rewarded with views of the Sea of Japan and the Alps in the distance. The best time for hiking Mount Hakusan is between June and October, as it is snow covered for the rest of the year.
Stay in a rural guesthouse
Get back to nature and learn about traditional Japanese culture while staying off-the-beaten track in a farming community. Rural guesthouse, Forest, which is located in the coastal Noto region, takes only one group of guests at a time, with a 1 night / 2 day minimum stay. For stays of 2 nights / 3 days and above, guests can have an exclusive tailored experience that focuses on immersion into the community and culture. Activities guests can experience range from trying their hand at local farming, to Zen or traditional craft making, with local villagers as a guide. Mealtimes are a highlight as the Noto Peninsula has a rich culinary culture that extends centuries, with focus on the local, seasonal produce from the hills and the sea, as well as Forest’s own organic vegetable garden.
Did you know?
Ishikawa is a year-round destination that forms part of an alternative Golden Route through Japan. (the known tourist path for first-time visitors which encompasses train travel from Tokyo via Osaka to Kyoto). Following the opening of the bullet train route through Kanazawa in 2015 (which also starts in Tokyo and continues to Kyoto), an adventurous new experience for all is available, immersing travellers in Ishikawa’s history and traditions.
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