Translated by Hilary Keyes
Japanese Encyclopedia: Hokuriku Region
Written by MATCHA
The Hokuriku region of Japan is composed of three prefectures - Toyama, Ishikawa and Fukui - that border the Sea of Japan, on the main island of Japan, Honshū. Let's learn more about this scenery-rich area.
The Hokuriku region of Japan is composed of 3 prefectures: Toyama, Ishikawa and Fukui which all border the Sea of Japan, and are somewhat centrally located on the main island of Japan, Honshū. Depending on how you count the regions, Niigata prefecture, famous for its rice and local sake, may also be included as part of the Hokuriku region. The largest city in this area, Kanazawa city, Ishikawa prefecture, has a population of about 465000 people (as of 2015).
What's the Weather Like? How Do I Get There?
This region of Japan is well-known for its hot, sunny summers and cold,winter wonderlands. In March of 2015, the Hokuriku shinkansen or bullet train, had its first run, connecting Tokyo Station with Kanazawa Station and taking (at the shortest), 2 hours and 28 minutes to travel between the 2 stations, cutting down the previous time required. If you would prefer to fly, you can reach the Hokuriku region by flying out from Haneda Airport to the region's largest airport Komatsu Airport in Ishikawa prefecture; the flight takes roughly 1 hour. From Komatsu Airport there are buses that connect to Kanazawa station, Komatsu station, Fukui station and more that travel in the direction of Kaga in southern Ishikawa.
Blessed by Nature and History: Hokuriku Sightseeing Spots
Hokuriku is home to some of the most well-known hot spring resorts in Japan. As hot springs in general may be enjoyed all year round, of particular beauty are those where you can watch the snow fall around you as you relax in the hot waters.
Other than hot springs, there are many other places of note to be seen in Hokuriku. For example, in Toyama prefecture stands Japan's tallest dam; Kurobe Dam is a staggering 186 meters tall. If you take the 220 steps up from Kurobe Dam Station, you will find yourself standing on a particularly impressive viewing platform. From this viewing platform, you can not only see the waters spraying out from the dam, but also get an unbroken view of the Tateyama mountain range and the Northern Alps, where there are approximately 3000 mountains extending off into the distance. And at the dam, there is also a pleasure cruise on the lake where you can see the gorgeous sight of the seasons playing across the Northern Alps from on board the boat.
Formerly a prosperous castle town, the heart of the Hokuriku region lies in Kanazawa city. Towering still over the city is Kanazawa Castle and, as it has been maintained as a park, you can enter and look around this area for free (though there are some areas which have an entrance fee). And, near Kanazawa Castle you will find one of the 3 largest gardens in Japan: Kenrokuen. Within this expansive park, you can see an ocean-like pond, island-like mountains and take a short break in a tea house as you can freely enjoy each and every part of this beautiful historical garden. And, Kenrokuen is easily reached: it is only 15 minutes by city bus or 10 minutes by taxi from Kanazawa Station.
From: Must See Before You Die! Fukui's #1 Scenic Spot Mikatagoko (Japanese)
Mikatagoko is an area of 5 lakes that is considered to be the most picturesque sight in all of Fukui prefecture. With different ratios of ocean water blending together and differences in water quality, these five lakes each have their own distinct shade of blue. This mystical scenery can be reached via the Rainbow Line toll road, or viewed from the Baijōdake Summit Public Park viewing platform.
Recently at the Baijōdake Summit Public Park viewing platform, a very popular activity has been taking place; this activity is known as kawarake-nage. For 100 yen you can purchase small clay dishes; if you write your wish on the dish and then toss it towards the lakes, your wish may come true. This little event would be the perfect finishing touch after viewing such beautiful scenery.
Mountains of Fresh Seafood! Hokuriku's Specialties & Souvenirs
Toyama is best known for its marine products such as trout sushi, firefly squid, Matsubagani (a type of crab), and snow crab that are all caught around the Hokuriku region. When visiting this area, please make sure to try some of the delicious seafood that is caught off the coast in the Sea of Japan. When it comes to Ishikawa prefecture, this castle town is best known for its traditional Japanese confectionery made from azuki beans, such as kintsuba (*1) and yōkan, as well as namafu (*2).
*1 Kintsuba: red bean paste that has been formed into a rectangle then wrapped in a wheat flour dough and baked.
*2 Namafu: foods made from kneaded and hardened wheat flour.
After spending the day sightseeing at unbelievable natural areas and historical sites, then soaking in incredible hot springs, you can enjoy some of the delicious seafood dishes and desserts along with drinks for dinner in the Hokuriku region. If you want to have a restful and refreshing vacation, then the Hokuriku region is the perfect place for you.