Discover the Hokuriku Area More than Kanazawa
Toyama, Ishikawa and Fukui Prefectures in less than three hours from Tokyo!
Kanazawa City (金沢), located in Ishikawa Prefecture, is one of the hottest tourist destinations in Japan today since the Hokuriku Shinkansen line opened in a few years back, connecting Kanazawa and Tokyo in only 2.5 hours.
The great transportation access, the historic town and the delicious local seafood make it an ideal destination and it has quickly become a must-visit sightseeing spot in Japan and appears in many travel guides following Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka. However, while Kanazawa’s appeal is undoubted, the Hokuriku area has much more to offer and today I would like to introduce you to the charm of Hokuriku area!
The Hokuriku area is located in the center of the island of Honshu, on the opposite side of Kanto (Tokyo). It lay along the Sea of Japan on one side, and has the Japanese Alps on the other side. It is a unique area that combines the beauty of both sea and mountains. While on the one hand you can enjoy coastal towns, with delicious seafood such as its famous huge and delicious crab; on the other hand you can enter the northern part of the Japanese Alps, with beautiful landscapes and villages.
In 1997 on the occasion of the Nagano Winter Olympics JR East and JR West started a new service called the Hokuriku Shinkansen, a high speed bullet train that connected Tokyo to Nagano, passing by Takasaki and Karuizawa. In 2015 the service was extended to Toyama and Kanazawa, in Ishikawa Prefecture. Since then, Kanazawa city has become a popular tourist destination for both domestic and foreign visitors.
For Spring 2024 a new extension of the line is scheduled, connecting Tokyo directly to Ishikawa, Toyama and Fukui prefectures in less than three hours! We have been able to attend a media press where the different prefectures have presented all that their area has to offer, and we would love to share it with you.
If you want to travel to Japan but you don’t like crowded and too touristy places, write down these destinations for your next trip to Japan!
Toyama prefecture (富山県) is already currently on the Hokuriku Shinkansen route, and it is especially known for the Gassho-zukuri villages in Gokayama. The Gassho-zukuri villages are traditional houses with thatched and steep roofs for the cold winters with heavy snow in the Japanese Alps. The most well-know is Shirakawa-go in Gifu Prefecture, but Gokayama is also the same level of beautiful but less crowed. Gokayama means five valleys in Japanese, so the villages in Gokayama are surrounded by mountains.
The other hot touristic spot in Toyama is the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route, a beautiful route passing through a part of the Northern Japan Alps. For those looking for different activities, the area is also famous for its traditional handicrafts, such as metal casting, inami woodcarving and glass making.
Official Website: https://www.toyamashi-kankoukyoukai.jp/en/
The capital city of Ishikawa prefecture (石川県) is Kanazawa, and as I said before is now one of the most popular tourist destinations in Japan since the opening of the Hokuriku Shinkansen route. It only takes 2.5 hours to get to Kanazawa from Tokyo, and the city have a lot to offer.
From the Kenrokuen Garden, one of the three great gardens of Japan to the impressive Kanazawa Castle, not forgetting the historic town that includes ancient samurai houses and the Higashi Chaya district, a geisha district similar to the famous Gion in Kyoto.
Official Website: https://www.ishikawatravel.jp/en/
Fukui is the newest addition to the Hokuriku Shinkansen extension, and will have four stations: Awara Onsen, Fukui, Echizen Takefu and Tsuruga. Although it is a little known prefecture, Fukui it is a very interesting area with several activities and unique experiences to offer and delicious crab!
If you like history and nature, Fukui is definitely the place for you. While when we talk about history in other places we usually talk about the time of the samurai, etc. in Fukui they go much further back in time, and even have a dinosaur museum, one of the most important in Asia. In fact, several dinosaur remains have been found in the area.
It also has the Eiheiji Temple, one of the pillars of Zen Buddhism in Japan. The temple offers short-term stays for tourists, who can experience first-hand the life and training of the Buddhist monks at Eiheiji Temple.
Official Website: https://enjoy.pref.fukui.lg.jp/en/
The Hokuriku Shinkansen
As explained above, the Hokuriku Shinkasen service started in the late 90s for the Nagano Winter Olympic so it was know as the Nagano Shinkansen but since 2015 the route was extended and now connects Tokyo with Toyama and Ishikawa Prefecture.
The Hokuriku Shinkasen it has three categories of trains, the Kagayaki, Hakutaka and Asama Series E7 are 12-car trains. The Kagayaki is the fastest train while the Hakutaka is more slow and requieres more time to do the trip. Meanwhile the Asama only covers the original route from Tokyo to Nagano.
For Spring 2024 a new extension of the line will connect Tokyo with Fukui prefecture in 2 hours and 53 minutes, 32 minutes faster than now. The three prefectures of Toyama, Ishikawa and Fukui are excited and doing their best preparing everything to help and welcome a new generation of post-pandemic travelers to discover the charm and potential of the region with this new route
During the event held for Kyodo News we discovered the rich culture and potencial of the Hokuriku area listening the presentations from the local officials and tourism leaders and we were able to enjoy some of the best delicious food from the region.
In this article I have presented some of the most interesting points of each prefecture, but soon we hope to publish more detailed information with routes and the best things to do in each place, so stay tuned. In 2024 we are waiting for you in the Hokuriku area with the new Shinkansen route, covered by the JR Pass!
Anyone else excited about the opening of the new Hokuriku Shinkansen route?! We are really looking forward for it!
For more interesting information about the best things to do in the area, check these articles too.