Mountain Villages Where Charcoal Making Thrived: Higashitani District, Ishikawa Prefecture

Guide to Japan Travel Culture

The Higashitani district of Kaga, Ishikawa Prefecture, consists of four mountain villages that preserve the look of the age when the forestry and charcoal making industries thrived. The two-story houses with sloping red-tiled roofs and chimneys are set off by the lush green of the surrounding woods. The district has been designated an “important preservation district for groups of traditional buildings.”

During the Edo period (1600–1868), the villagers were required to make charcoal for their feudal lords. In the latter part of the nineteenth century, when this levy was lifted, they were able to prosper by selling the charcoal they made. After World War II demand for charcoal plunged, and the local population dwindled, but residents are working to revive their communities.

(Originally published in Japanese. Created in cooperation with Kanazawa Cable Television.)

Ishikawa Hokuriku