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Get the lowdown on some of what Ishikawa Prefecture has to offer!

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An open-air bath at The Kayotei overlooking the verdant hills of Yamanaka.

Ishikawa Prefecture lies on the west coast of Japan's main island, a part of Hokuriku in the larger Chubu, or "central", region. It is best-known perhaps for its capital city of Kanazawa, an old castle town rich in history and natural beauty and surprisingly compact in size (a good thing -- more on this later). Kanazawa offers a range of sightseeing destinations and cultural experiences -- not to mention the tasty food -- that will delight history buffs and artisans alike.

Although it is certainly not to be missed, Kanazawa is not all that Ishikawa Prefecture has to offer. Travelers to Japan -- both first-timers and repeat visitors alike -- are sure to know of the country's nationwide passion for hot springs; well, Ishikawa is no exception as home to Kaga Onsen (among others) which consists of four smaller hot spring towns including Awazu, Yamashiro, Yamanaka, and Katayamazu. Those looking for a peaceful getaway with a steamy bath to melt away the weariness of travel need look no further than these small, somewhat secluded hot spring villages tucked amongst the verdant mountains and valleys of Ishikawa. Kaga Onsen's soothing hot springs -- and their purported healing powers -- are said to have been discovered more than 1,000 years ago, and in addition to the famous public bath houses here, visitors can find a number of top-class ryokan to choose from. Continue below for some of our top choices.

[ Onsen (Hot Springs), Ryokan | published 2012.05.02 | PermaLink ]

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[ Onsen (Hot Springs), Ryokan, Traditional | published 2011.10.31 | PermaLink ]

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To visit Kira no Sato is not like traveling to big cities such as Tokyo, Osaka or even the historic old capitol of Kyoto. To visit Kira no Sato is experience rural Japan, to stay in a traditional Japanese resort ryokan, complete with the air of rest and relaxation that it embodies.

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Soothing onsen, gourmet cuisine, stunning views, traditional design, heartfelt service... it is amazing how many unique characteristics can be conjured up by a single word: ryokan. This time around, I decided to stay at Komeya, the "gourmet ryokan" with an emphasis on cuisine, essentially the Japanese version of an auberge.

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