20 Best Things To Do in Ishikawa: Kenrokuen, Gold Leaf Ice Cream & More

By Alecksandra Javier
Updated: March 18, 2024

Sandwiched between Fukui and Toyama prefectures, Ishikawa lies in the Chubu region of Japan. Home to a beautiful coastline, forested regions, and mountains, there's something for everyone in this geographically diverse prefecture. Here are a few ideas to get you started on planning your trip to Ishikawa, whether you're going for the seafood or the crafts.

Note: Some activities and destinations may be unavailable due to damage sustained during the 2024 Noto earthquake. The area is recovering, but it's wise to call ahead to ensure everything on your itinerary is possible.

Already booked your Shinkansen? Check out our ready-made 3-day Kanazawa itinerary.

Popular things to do in Ishikawa

Kenrokuen Gardens

1. Take a stroll through Kenrokuen Gardens

Welcome to the postcard image of Kanazawa. Kenrokuen Gardens are beautiful no matter the season, but especially in the fall and spring. You'll want to give yourself about an hour to explore the grounds.

2. Go for the gold on a tour of Higashi Chaya

Kanazawa is the center of gold leaf production in Japan, and you'll find many foods (such as soft-serve ice cream) and souvenirs adorned with gold — and yes, it's perfectly edible! Head to the historical Higashi Chaya district to learn more about this beloved local craft.

Let a local expert show you the way. Sign up for a Kanazawa gold leaf tour!

3. Embrace your artistic side at the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art

This "museum open to the world" is most famous for its pool exhibit, in which you can snap a photo that looks like you're underwater! You can also get to know modern artists from Japan and abroad free of charge (except for current exhibitions). 

4. Soak your worries away at Kaga Onsen

About 25 minutes by train from Kanazawa, Kaga is known for its onsen village. You can choose from one of four: Yamashiro Onsen, Yamanaka Onsen, Awazu Onsen, and Katayamazu Onsen. You can pay an entry fee of ¥490 per person or stay overnight and have all-day access. If you get a ¥1,000 bus pass, you can even go onsen-hopping throughout the villages! 

Make the most of your time at Kaga Onsen on our Kaga Onsen food and craft experience! Sake pairing included.

5. Get your Kutani on in Kaga

Another specialty of Kaga is Kutani ceramics, also known as Kutani-yaki or Kutani ware. These traditional pieces of usable art are a coveted gift you can snag for yourself while in Kaga. 

What To Eat in Ishikawa


6. Sweet shrimp (ama ebi)

Amaebi is a sweet shrimp that is extremely rare to find outside of its native Ishikawa Prefecture. Enjoy the plump, succulent shrimp in the form of sushi or sashimi from late autumn to early spring. 

7. Snow crab

Ishikawa's kanogani, or male snow crabs, are renowned across the country for their size and delicate flavor. Crab fishing is limited to November through March, so if you're looking to feast on seafood in its prime, coming to Ishikawa during the winter is ideal. Even if you do come during the spring or summer, though, you can enjoy other delicious seafood such as amberjack and yellowtail. 

8. Egara manju

If you love sweet red bean paste, this is the dessert (or breakfast) for you! You can find egara manju in Wajima on the Noto Peninsula. It's closer to a mochi rice cake with white bean paste on the inside. 

9. Amazake

Another sweet treat to try in Ishikawa is amazake, a naturally sweet, alcohol-free fermented rice drink. You can find it at yatai stands at festivals or near shrines and temples, usually during the colder winter months. 

Where to Eat in Ishikawa

10. Step into "Kanazawa's Kitchen" at Omicho Market

Want to try your hand at cooking Ishikawa style? With the help of a multilingual guide, you can pick out ingredients at the famous Omicho Market to make a delicious meal at a traditional home nearby. Plus, get insider tips on the best cooking equipment to buy at local shops on an Omicho Market tour!

11. Hirami Pan

Locals line up around the block early in the morning to get into Hirami Pan, a French-style bakery and bistro — and for good reason. Their drool-worthy breads and cute interiors are worth the higher price point for a glamorous breakfast spot.  

12. Espresso Bar Kesaran Pasaran 

If you're looking for a quick afternoon pick-me-up while in Kanazawa, look no further than Espresso Bar Kesaran Pasaran. Try a sandwich with Melbourne-style coffee, or choose from an array of Instagram-worthy desserts. 

13. La Luce

Local Kanazawa ingredients are almost exclusively used in La Luce’s one-of-a-kind dishes — many of them organic — but for ingredients that cannot be found in the Kanazawa breadbasket, such as foie gras, truffles or specific cheeses, the chef settles for no less than the best from Italy and France. A wide selection of natural wines accompanies the menu.

While it only began operations in December 2023, the restaurant has already found itself a popular destination for Kanazawa visitors looking for a culinary breath of fresh air. Reserve a table at La Luce on byFood.

Shrines & Temples in Ishikawa


14. Oyama Shrine 

For a peaceful escape from the city, step into Oyama Shrine, which is dedicated to Maeda Toshiie, the lord of Kaga's ruling clan during the Edo period. Head there during sunrise or sunset to watch the light emerge from the stained glass in the gate!

15. Ukimido Temple 

Appearing to be floating along Shibayama Lake in the Kaga area, Ukimido Temple, also known as "Ukiuki Temple" or "Benten Floating Temple," offers spectacular views of Kaga's lakeside. Look into the legend of the dragon god and the maiden for the lore behind this unique site. 

16. Keta Taisha Shrine 

Said to be the most important shrine on the Noto Peninsula, Keta Taisha Shrine is dedicated to Onamuchi, the god of love. So if you're looking for love or continued happiness in your current relationship, be sure to pay a visit! 

17. Noto Great Buddha of Longevity 

For a long life, head to Anamizu to pray to the Great Buddha. Afterward, you can get soba at one of the nearby soba restaurants! 

Unique Experiences in Ishikawa

Tsukiusagi no Sato

18. Tsukiusagi no Sato

If you love rabbits, Tsukiusagi no Sato is the place for you to go. Filled with over 2000 rabbits, Tsukiusagi no Sato, or "Moon Rabbit Village," is a large bunny park located in Kaga. Kids are welcome! 

19. Notojima Island

If you're looking to really immerse yourself in the friendly culture of Ishikawa, head to Notojima Island for a quiet place with friendly locals and stunning views. Renting a bike and cycling around to soak in the coastlines of Nanao are recommended.

20. Hyakumangoku Festival

If you're going to attend a festival in Ishikawa, let it be Hyakumangoku Festival — the biggest festival in the prefecture. Held the first weekend of June, you can hear taiko drums and watch a procession of actors dressed as 16th-century samurai, noblemen, and princesses led by Lord Maeda Toshiie on horseback. Celebrate the wealth of the Kaga domain in Kanazawa! 

Regardless of whether you end up doing all 20 things or just a few, we hope this list helped give you some ideas of what to do on your trip to Ishikawa. 

Traveling around Japan? Check out the best things to do in Nara and the best things to do in Osaka.

We strive to be as accurate as possible and keep up with the changing landscape of Japan's food and travel industries. If you spot any inaccuracies, please send a report.
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Alecksandra Javier
Alecksandra is a food hobbyist and otaku who has a deep interest in Japanese culture and cuisine. She likes knowing how every food out there in the open came to be, the meaning of their very names, why they taste the way they do and the diverging concepts that are behind every dish. One day she will travel to different countries to go restaurant hopping and share her food adventures to the world.
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