A Day Trip to Hakusan National Park
Although considerably less well-known than the legendary Mt. Fuji, Hakusan mountain holds an equally important status as one of the Three Holy Mountains of Japan. Unleash your inner explorer with a day trip discovering the thriving nature that covers the surrounding area.
In Ishikawa Prefecture, the verdant, mountainous countryside is as celebrated as the delicious seafood. Much like Mt. Fuji, Hakusan is a potentially still active volcano that has sat dormant for the last 350 years. The high rainfall in the area results in landscapes of luscious hues of green and blue which spread out to the horizon. The winding roads through the national park take you through a maze of vibrant bridges, natural waterfalls, holy places, hot springs, and a whole host of flora and fauna.
Regarded as one of the most holy mountains in Japan, Hakusan is surrounded by more shrines than any of its nearby rivals. With nature’s spirituality at the heart of the Shinto religion, the majority of these shrines were built as a place to worship the natural phenomenon that is Mt. Hakusan.
One of the largest and most accessible shrines in the area is Shirayama Hime Shrine, just a 45-minute drive from Kanazawa. Of the 3,000 odd Shirayama shrines around Japan, this is the head shrine with believers traveling from far and wide to pay their respects and wish for prosperous futures.
Further out into the wilderness of the mountains is Shiramine village which houses Shiramine Shrine, another of the area’s most important and visited Shinto shrines thanks to its proximity to Mt. Hakusan. The village makes a good stop for lunch with the chance to get a feel for rural village life at a local restaurant before taking a visit to one of the numerous natural hot springs surrounding the village. Take your pick from the Hakusan Shiramine Onsen Resort, Hakusan Tenbou no Yu, Gozensou and Shiramine Soyu.
Natural water features appear to come with the territory in this mountainous region with trickling streams, crashing rivers and naturally formed waterfalls within reach from the main roads all along the route. The abundance of water in the area also led to the creation of the Tedorigawa Dam, a huge site which is 150 meters high with a basin of around 400 square kilometers. This rockfill dam is an impressive sight and a good spot for taking a look out over the scenery from above.
Discovering the hidden nooks and crannies of Hakusan at your own pace is one of the most enjoyable ways to spend a day in the national park. Hiring a car is the recommended way to make the most of what Hakusan has to offer, however, there are also bus trips bookable at Kanazawa Station for a hassle-free ride to the best spots. For those who instantly think of hiking when they hear the word mountain, there are several options available if you are visiting between the months of May and September. The Kagazenjodo is the route to follow up to Mt. Hakusan with the Bettodeai Trailhead as the starting point for a day’s hike up and down the mountain.