Higashi Chayagai ©JNTO
Words:Haruka Osoegawa Translation:Heather Glass
The Hokuriku Shinkansen bullet train began operating in March 2015. Japan’s Hokuriku region incorporates the three prefectures of Ishikawa, Toyama and Fukui. The many tourist destinations dotted throughout the area include traditional Japanese locations, hot springs and beautiful castle towns. This article focuses on Kanazawa, the gateway to Hokuriku, with tips about tourist spots you may want to visit.
Yuki-no-otani Snow Corridor
The Nagano Shinkansen that formerly operated between Tokyo and Nagano was extended from Nagano to Kanazawa and was reborn as the Hokuriku Shinkansen on 14 March. With the launch of the Hokuriku Shinkansen, an overland journey to Kanazawa that once took close to four hours can now be completed – at top speed – in two hours and 28 minutes.
During the Edo period – from the beginning of the 17th to the 19th century – Kanazawa boasted the highest rice stipend of the 300 feudal domains, making it the wealthiest domain within the country. The city was a castle town, governed by the Maeda family, who were the rulers of the Kaga clan and whose stipend is spoken of as ‘Hyakumangoku (one million koku) of Kaga’. At the city’s centre is Kenrokuen Garden, one of the three most famous gardens in Japan, facing which is Kanazawa Castle Park and the ruins of the feudal Maeda castle. A massive structure, Kanazawa Castle enjoys popularity as the epitome of the majesty of the Hyakumangoku of Kaga.
West of Korinbo, the busy shopping district, are the cobbled roads and earthen walls of the Nagamachi Buke Yashiki, or samurai residence district, which features the former homes of the Kaga clan’s retainers. The eastern street of chaya teahouses north-east of the castle, fairly close to the Asanogawa River, was born in 1820. The traditional town houses lining the streets are unique for their latticed bay windows on the ground floor, and the plumb of their upper floors, which is high enough to accommodate Japanese-style zashiki drawing rooms, where guests sit on the floor. In the present day there is a growing number of tea shops, galleries and modern bars that all preserve the teahouse architecture.
Kanazawa is not the only area of interest. Ishikawa Prefecture’s neighbouring prefecture, Toyama, also has many attractions. Kurobe- Unazukionsen Station, newly built for the Hokuriku Shinkansen, is the gateway to the Kurobe and Unazuki onsen hot springs area with its famously prolific springs that flow from the Northern Alps.
The prefecture is also known for the Tateyama-Kurobe Alpen Route, which is a mountainous tourist route passing through the Northern Alps, comprising peak after peak reaching 3,000 metres above sea level and visited by tourists from at home and abroad. The Tateyama-Kurobe Alpen Route is the mountain traffic route linking Tateyama Station in Toyama Prefecture and Ougizawa Station in Nagano Prefecture.
The route is famous for the ‘snow corridor’ that appears when snow walls of around 20 metres in height form along both sides of the road. Each year from mid April to late June there is a ‘snow walk’, when it is possible to experience the Yuki- no-otani Snow Corridor. The walls of snow soaring on both sides are amazing as it shows the power of mother nature. The walk is an opportunity to get up close and personal with the wonders of nature at its mightiest.
INTRODUCING NEW ROLLING STOCK – WHAT’S GOOD ABOUT THE W7 CARRIAGE
The comfortable interior space features a strong sense of both design and functionality. The ordinary carriages incorporate a lattice design that is classically wa in taste. The green cars are elegant, and the gran class has reclining leather seats and in-built electric functionality.
The train fit out is the latest, incorporating barrier free universal design elements, equipment designed for comfort, such as power points in all seats, attention to energy conservation, with LED in-carriage lights, and beefed up security, with surveillance cameras covering the aisles.