Ishikawa’s Must-See Fall Spots

The fall scenery at Natadera Temple in Komatsu.

Fall is here and Japan – never wanting to miss an opportunity to admire nature – is getting ready for the changing of the leaves. Going to a great 紅葉 spot is THE fall outing. So grab some friends, get a car (most of these locations are only accessible via car), make sure your camera has a fully charged battery and get to admiring those leaves.

白山スーパー林道

Hakusan Super Rindo Forest Road (白山スーパー林道) Hakusan-shi
Arguably the most breathtaking place for fall colors, this mountain toll road is THE destination for stunning fall views. The Super Rindo Road is perhaps one of the most scenic drives in all of Japan. At ¥3150 one-way for the toll, this is a trip best taken with as many people in one car as possible. (Note: making a U-turn and returning through the same toll gate you entered IS allowed on a one-way pass.)

Best time to visit: October through mid-November
Price: ¥3150 one way ¥4890 round trip
Hours: 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.
For more information visit their website.

Image courtesy of Natadera's website.

Natadera Temple (那谷寺) Komatsu-shi
This expansive temple ground is a 20-minute drive from Komatsu and is a great place to enjoy the fall leaves. This place is a very spiritual site in Japan and was visited by many famous monks in its heyday. Numerous paths through the forests and along its rocky surfaces and into the hand-carved meditation caves mean you’ll never have to walk the same path twice. This is a top spot for tourists visiting Ishikawa in the fall. Don’t worry about it getting over-crowded with tourists—the grounds are so wide you’ll feel like you’re the only one there.

Best time to visit: November
Price: ¥600 / person
Hours: 8:30 – 16:45
Access: Take the bus bound for Natadera Temple from JR Komatsu Station or take the CANBUS from JR Kaga Onsen Station.
Website: English | Japanese

Korogi-bashi is one of the famous bridges that stretches across Kakusenkei Gorge.

Kakusenkei Gorge (鶴仙渓) Kaga-shi
The Kakusenkei Gorge has easy walking trails for those looking for a casual viewing experience. Located in Yamanaka Onsen, the walking paths will lead you along the gorge and through the historic onsen district. After you finish walking the trails, stop into one of the many onsens to admire the scenery from one of the many outdoor baths lining the gorge. This is perfect as a day trip or an overnight visit if you want to get the full onsen experience.
Best time to visit: November
Access: Take the JR Hokuriku Line to Kaga Onsen Station and board a shuttle bus from the station.
Price: free (unless you visit an onsen)
For more information visit Yamanaka Onsen’s website.

Hodatsu-san is one of the less-traveled fall spots in Ishikawa.

Hodatsu-san (宝達山) Hodatsushimizu-machi
This unassuming mountain nestled to the east of Hodatsushimizu-machi is a low-key fall viewing adventure. You won’t find any tour groups winding through the mountain roads–just local hikers and picnickers. If you want to really get out there and escape from it all this is the place to go. I’ve marked the summit of the mountain, which you can drive to, on a map here, but there is much more to see around the mountain. You can spend a whole day exploring the various roads and trails around Hodatsu-san.

Best time to visit: November
Price: free
Access: Accessible only by car from the 159. Here’s a handy Google Map.

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