Guideto JapanCulture History
Located in the Hokuriku region, Ishikawa Prefecture has a lengthy coastline with its northern half, the rugged Noto Peninsula, jutting out into the Sea of Japan. The southern half includes the major city of Kanazawa, long a historical center, which lies on a plain. To the southeast, the elevation rises toward Mount Hakusan, a dormant volcano with a peak of 2,702 meters, which is the nation’s tallest point west of the Japan Alps.
Ishikawa Prefecture at a Glance
- Established in 1872 (formerly Kaga and Noto provinces)
- Capital: Kanazawa
- Population: 1,133,000 (as of Oct. 2020)
- Area: 4,186 km2
Kenrokuen in Kanazawa is perhaps the most famous of Japan’s “three great gardens,” with different flowers through the seasons; the Kotojitōrō, a distinctive two-legged stone lantern, has become a symbol of the location. Other attractions in Kanazawa include geisha and samurai districts. Noto Peninsula is a relatively remote area known for its spectacular coastal scenery of cliffs, caves, and rock formations. At Shiroyone Senmaida steep rice-field terraces overlook the sea.
The company Komatsu, named after the Ishikawa city of the same name where it was founded, is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of construction and mining equipment. The machinery industry remains important in the prefecture, alongside textile production. In traditional crafts, Kanazawa is known for its kinpaku sheets of hammered gold leaf, and the lacquerware of Wajima.
- D. T. Suzuki (1870–1966): Philosopher who helped popularize Zen Buddhism around the world.
- Nagai Gō (1945–): Manga artist known for works including Devilman, Cutie Honey, and Mazinger Z.
- Matsui Hideki (1974–): Baseball star nicknamed “Godzilla,” who hit more than 500 home runs during his career in Japan and the United States.
(Originally published in English. Banner photo: The Kanazawa garden Kenrokuen, with the Kotojitōrō lantern at right. © Pixta.)
For the complete list of the country’s 47 prefectures, see “The Prefectures of Japan.”