Plan Your Hokuriku Itinerary As we speak


Of all of the areas of Japan, Hokuriku is the one for which my fondness has most elevated through the years. However after I first got here right here—within the fall of 2015, lower than 18 months after my first journey to Japan—I wasn’t positive what all of the fuss was about.

Certain, the Gassho farm homes of Shirakawa-go had been fairly amid the autumn colours; it was good to get invited to a free tea ceremony in Kanazawa, throughout a particularly brief stopover there, no much less. However it wasn’t a spot I felt particularly excited to see once more. Which is why I didn’t return there for greater than three years.

As you’ll see studying by my Hokuriku itinerary, returning in 2019 (twice) and all through the early 2020s has modified my thoughts and my coronary heart. The sooner you confess your love for Hokuriku, the earlier you will get all the way down to the enterprise of loving it!

The place is Hokuriku? What’s Hokuriku?

Earlier than I get into my advocate Hokuriku itinerary, I have to first delineate some issues about Hokuriku. Most significantly, the place is it? In broad phrases, Hokuriku is the northern section of the central Chubu area of Japan—in different phrases, the world north of the Japanese Alps and south of the Sea of Japan. Hokuriku contains your entire prefectures of Fukui, Ishikawa and Toyama, components of Gifu and Nagano prefectures, and typically Niiigata.

Defining what Hokuriku is? Nicely, that’s a bit of bit more durable. For some, it pertains to historical past, often (however not all the time) the Kaga Clan, which had a base at Kanazawa Fortress throughout the Edo interval. For others it’s concerning the nature: The land between the mountains and the ocean, and the distinctive cityscapes, delicacies and alternatives for journey it creates. I can’t but put it into phrases, aside from to say you’ll understand it while you really feel it.

The place to Go in Hokuriku



For sure, the town of Kanazawa is the belle of the Hokuriku ball. And is it any marvel? It’s house to Kenroku-en, considered one of Japan’s three nice gardens, to not point out a trio of Geisha districts, a neighborhood filled with former Samurai properties and Omicho Ichiba, among the best seafood markets wherever in Japan. The one factor I don’t love about Kanazawa? I can’t expertise all 4 of metropolis’s superlative seasons without delay!

Noto Peninsula


A extra underrated Hokuriku journey vacation spot, then again, is the Noto Peninsula. It isn’t removed from Kanazawa, a minimum of not on the map, however its landscapes (similar to postcard-perfect Ganmon) and tradition (the drumming of Nabune village) really feel as faraway from the town as Aomori or Kagoshima. For those who do come to Noto, be sure and commit a minimum of two days in case you can—it’s a lot greater than it appears to be like!



Whereas Toyama is likely one of the largest cities within the Hokuriku area, it’s not almost as widespread as Kanazawa. It is a disgrace, nevertheless it’s not completely sudden. Whether or not visiting the Toyama Glass Artwork Museum inside the metropolis middle, or making a day journey to close by Takaoka, even essentially the most pleasant experiences in Toyama aren’t as conspicuously superior as these obtainable simply down the Shinkansen line.

Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route


A necessary a part of any Hokuriku journey is to enterprise into the Japanese Alps—there are a few methods to do that. The primary is to take a day journey from Toyama onto the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route, a multi-modal journey which is as pleasant in spring (when you’ll be able to nonetheless, surprisingly, expertise its “snow tunnel”) as it’s in summer season in autumn. In autumn, you may as well simply decide to take a practice journey down Kurobe Gorge.

Takayama and Shirakawa-go


One other technique to expertise the Alps throughout your Hokuriku itinerary? Go by bus from Kanazawa, both to Shirakawa-go (a city well-known for its Gassho farmhouses) or to Takayama, a barely bigger metropolis whose ambiance nonetheless makes it really feel like a small city trapped in time. For those who actually wish to dig deep into this a part of Hokuriku you may go to Gokayama as an alternative of Shirakawa-go, although I most likely wouldn’t go to each if I had been you.



Final however actually not least is Fukui—the prefecture greater than the town. I’ll admit that it took even me a very long time to tick this off my Japan bucket checklist. For years, I’d merely visited Maruoka Fortress. It wasn’t till reasonably lately that I gave Fukui its due, exploring locations starting from the Tojinbo cliffs, to closely forested Eihei-ji temple, to the towering Buddhas and verdant rice fields of bucolic Katsuyama metropolis.

Is Hokuriku Price Visiting?

Consider me after I say: The Hokuriku area is completely price visiting, it doesn’t matter what attracts you right here. For some vacationers, that’s consuming contemporary crab at Kanazawa’s Omicho Market, for others it’s strolling by the “snow tunnel” of Toyama’s Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route. Some come merely to look at the farmhouses of Shirakawa-go mild up at evening, whereas others wish to see all of it.

The important thing to a visit that fulfills you is carefully aligning your Hokuriku itinerary with the varieties of experiences you take pleasure in. The standard of issues to do, see and eat in Hokuriku rivals something you discover in Tokai, Tohoku, Hokkaido, Kansai or wherever else in Japan—that’s not the problem. However it is advisable to right-size your journey and match what you do with what you wish to do. Then, you’ll go away as decided to return again as I all the time am!


Different FAQ About Journey to Hokuriku

Is Hokuriku included in JR Move?

JR trains within the Hokuriku area (together with the Shinkansen) are totally coated by the nationwide Japan Rail Move. There’s additionally the so-called Hokuriku Arch Move, which additionally contains some non-JR trains and buses. Whether or not the JR Move is an efficient worth for you’ll rely upon not solely your journey in Hokuriku, however the place else in Japan you propose to journey, and for the way lengthy.

What’s the distinction between Hokuriku and Tokaido Shinkansen?

The Tokaido Shinkansen connects Tokyo and Shin-Osaka, and is the first transportation artery of the populous Taiheyo Belt alongside the southern coast of Japan’s Honshu island. The Hokuriku Shinkansen, against this, runs up by the Japanese Alps to the Sea of Japan Coast, and whereas it is going to ultimately join all the best way to Shin-Osaka, presently terminates in Kanazawa (although it is going to lengthen to Tsuruga in Fukui prefecture by the top of 2024).

Does JR Move cowl Kanazawa to Takayama?

Probably the most direct approach of touring from Takayama to Kanazawa requires taking a bus, which is operated by the personal Nouhi firm. Because of this, you can’t use the JR Move for this journey. Whilst you may theoretically use JR trains to journey between Kanazawa and Takayama through Nagoya, this is able to be a circuitous and cumbersome routing.

The Backside Line

That is the Hokuriku itinerary I want I’d had virtually a decade in the past, after I sleepwalked into my first journey by the area. In actuality, Hokuriku is as accessible as Tokai or Kansai—it simply isn’t written about as a lot in English, actually not past Kanazawa and perhaps Takayama or Shirakawa-go. Certainly, having fun with and loving Hokuriku for what’s is requires information, at first, which is what I’ve tried to supply right here. Info fosters inspiration, which is what empowers you to place boots on the bottom. Need extra personalised assist placing your Hokuriku journey collectively? Fee a customized Japan itinerary at present!



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