When people are planning their trips to Japan, big cities like Tokyo and Osaka often make the top of the list but for the traveler looking to see some different smaller cities, they should definitely make it a point to start in Kanazawa. Kanazawa is one of the most culturally authentic places in Japan with a rich history that is still placed on the forefront. During the Edo period, it was home to one of the most powerful feudal clans rivaling Tokyo and Kyoto. It can even be said that its smaller size has saved it as during the Second World World, it was spared being bombed and as a result plenty of old castles and structures still remain. There is a lot of things to see around Kanazawa, so if you’re planning a trip to Japan check out these great day trips from Kanazawa, Japan.
Listed on the UNESCO World Heritage sites Gokayama is a beautiful little town known for its gassho-zukuri houses which are traditional Japanese houses that are emblematic of old Japan. Most of these houses belonged to merchants, artisans, and farmers and many of them found in Gokayama are over 300 years old. Gokayama is more inland and surrounded by fields and mountains making a very calm and picturesque place that is completely the opposite of the hustle and bustle of the city.
Visit the scenic alpine town of Shirakawa. This town is absolutely stunning and looks like it came straight out of a childs fairy tale. The town is a UNESCO World Heritage site with traditionally designed houses and the chance to learn about rural life in a traditional Japanese town. This tour offers guests the chance to avoid public transit and go straight to the sights of Shirakawa.
Private Tour of Shirakawago and Gokayama from Kanazawa
Duration: 7 hours
With its rural plains, mountainous landscapes, and small city living, the area of Fukui is one that is unlike most places in Japan. The city borders the Sea of Japan on one side and the Ryohaku mountains on the other and despite its small size, Fukui has an important history in Japan. The city developed as a castle town and played an important role in Meiji restoration. The town is well connected through its railways and public transport so getting around from Kanazawa is not particularly difficult and the town has a pretty laid-back atmosphere with a large student population as there are several universities nearby.
Sitting along the water on the Sea of Japan, the city of Tsuruga is one of the oldest in the area. Local cultural landmarks date the city to at least the 700’s and is considered to be part of the ancient Echizen province. Although the city is small and innocuous, there is plenty of history that happened here. Kanagasaki Castle is a national historic landmark and has seen a few major battles. As a result of its position along the coast, the city grew economically as a stopping point between other cities in Japan and Hokkaido to the north. Several historic sites are found here from Meiji-era buildings to Shinto shrines.
5. Wakura Onsen
Located on the Noto Peninsula, the Wakura Onsen is a small resort town with plenty of hot springs located by the Nanao Bay. The area is characterized by the many Ryokans and bathing complexes that make up the town. As the city is a resort town, there are plenty of options here for relaxation including some of the best Ryokans in the country. Enjoy a soak in the onsen or even head to the many game rooms or karaoke booths. The town is generally a quiet place but there are a few landmarks that are not onsen-related such as the public square and Kado Isaburo Museum.
6. Awara Onsen
In the Echizen area of Japan, is the resort town of Awara Onsen. The town has a reputation for having some of the best geothermal baths in the country. Their onsens being some of the best, it should come not come at a surprise that people have been coming here for over 100 years to relax and enjoy the healing properties of the local bathhouses. If fact, the story of how Awara Onsen grew started with a humble farmer from the area, digging irrigation well and stumbling upon a hot water source in 1883. The town’s location on the water makes for a good tourist destination where you can dine on the (also well-known) fresh seafood and enjoy the views of the bay.
Toyama is located on the coast of the Sea of Japan in the Chubu region of Honshu. Historically the area has been of major importance for trade and commerce as the land here is fertile for farming and it’s located between two bigger cities. As such, Toyama has been continuously inhabited since at least pre-historic times. Because of the city’s strategic position, it was often the scene of battles between neighbouring clans. Toyama’s ancient history means there are plenty of cool things to check out nearby such as Toykama and Yasuda Castle or Museum of Modern Art.
Nagoya is the largest city in Chubu and is one of the major port cities in the country and one of the largest on the west coast. The city is one of the biggest on this list and offers a different travel experience from many of the smaller towns in the area. Nagoya is home to many great attractions such as Nagoya University, The Tokugawa Art Museum, Atsuta Jingu, and Nagoya City Science Museum. This blend of modern culture and ancient landmarks makes Nagoya one of the most unique places to visit.
Explore the greater Kanazawa area
The Ichikawa prefecture is a beautiful one, that unfortunately seems to miss the mark when a lot of people looking to plan their Japanese vacations. For travellers looking for something a little on the slower side and away from the hustle and bustle of the major cities head to Kanazawa and explore Japan from there!
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