With Air New Zealand confirming the return of flights to Tokyo this month, the opening of further routes from Australia and New Zealand to Japan via Changi Airport with Singapore Airlines and possible government ‘bubble’ agreements between Australia and Japan paving the way for travel to the country ahead of other international destinations, we’re dreaming of packing our bags and heading to off-the-tourist-trail prefecture, Ishikawa, once the borders open.
Until then, here are 10 zoom background-worthy pictures to satisfy your travel lust and make you dream of a trip to Japan – capturing traditional, spiritual and natural scenery in Ishikawa:
Views from Mt. Hakusan – one of Japan’s three most sacred mountains, Hakusan is a dormant volcano which naturally heats the many hot springs at its base and enables a vast ecosystem to thrive. Those who climb Mt. Hakusan will pass through forests of birch and Japanese beech, as well as meadows dotted with colourful flowers in the summer, including the beautiful Kozakura flowers pictured here:
Natadera Temple – Dramatic cliffs tower over temples, shrines and lush gardens which change with the seasons. Natadera’s cliffs and caves have been shaped by volcanic eruptions of the nearby Mt. Hakusan and eroded by ocean currents, with these natural rock formations regarded as a sacred place for more than 2,000 years.
Kanazawa Castle in spring – home to the Maeda family during their rule of the Kaga domain. The castle was built in 1580 and although has suffered several fires in its time, has been faithfully restored and remains the jewel of Kanazawa City today. Each spring the castle’s grounds are painted pink with more than 400 cherry blossom trees which are lit up each April for visitors to see a totally different view at night.
Senmeida Rice Fields – one of Ishikawa’s most unusual landscapes to photograph. The Senmeida rice paddies are to this day still tended to by hand as their sloping nature doesn’t allow for machinery. Although less efficient for rice production than flat fields, this natural practice and beautiful views of the Japanese Sea create an unusual setting to take in the sea views.
Hakusan Shirakawago White Road – place yourself among the vibrant colours and spectacular mountain vistas on a drive along the Hakusan Shirakawago White Road. Taking around one hour to drive, the route takes road trippers through Hakusan National Park and across Ishikawa’s border to the UNESCO World Heritage site of Shirakawago in neighbouring Gifu Prefecture.
Rock formations along the Noto Kongo coastline – a 14km stretch of rugged coastline that is sure to reward visitors with incredible ocean views, rock formations and beautiful sunsets. The Hatago-Iwa Rocks (pictured) are considered sacred and a connected by a ‘shimenawa’ – a rope used in Shinto to mark the presence of sacred spirits.
Higashi-Chaya District – Kanazawa’s largest and most lively geiko (geisha) district. Wander the streets to soak in the atmosphere, taking you back 200 years to when the traditional wooden teahouses were built. Established as a place for geiko to entertain wealthy merchants with music and dance, many of the same teahouses today can be toured by visitors, with others now functioning as cafes, restaurants and craft shops.
Kenrokuen Garden in autumn – one of the Three Great Gardens of Japan. Kenrokuen is celebrated for its landscaped gardens and water features, with different plants and flower species changing their colours and appearance dramatically throughout the seasons. Although perhaps busiest in the spring for its cherry blossom, the garden is just as beautiful in autumn as the Japanese maple trees and zelkovas burst into their fall colours, or in winter as trees are tied with bamboo and rope supports to support them during the region’s heavy snowfall.
Skiing in Hakusan – Ishikawa’s ski resorts are still relatively off the radar for international skiers and boarders compared to its neighbouring prefectures, Gifu and Nagano. 5 ski resorts and 16 lifts are waiting to be explored in winter which are based around Mt. Hakusan. The largest of these is Hakusan Ichirino Onsen with the highest being Hakusan Sena Kogen.
Ubagataki Falls – named as one of the 100 best waterfalls in Japan, Ubagataki Falls is located along the Hakusan Shirakawago White Road. You can access this 100 metre wide, 76 metre tall waterfall via a walking path that takes you right underneath or take photos and marvel at its beauty while soaking your feet in a natural spring water footbath nearby.
Check out https://www.ishikawatravel.jp/en/ for more inspo!