6 days in Ishikawa Prefecture, Japan - Part 1

Pippa Wilson on 01 December 2023
Ishikawa Japan – part 1 Konnichiwa from Ishikawa! Day one of my adventure in this mesmerizing prefecture has been an absolute whirlwind! Started the day at the crack of dawn, meeting my travel squad at Heathrow for a 13-hour flight to Haneda Tokyo, followed by a quick domestic hop to Komatsu on the west coast of Honshu. Our haven in Kanazawa is the stunning Hotel Sanraku. But can we talk about the toilets? Heated seats and a control pad with a plethora of douche features – why don't we have this luxury back home? ??

First stop: the iconic Omicho fish market! The air filled with the vibrant hustle and bustle, we indulged in the freshest produce, from succulent roasted eel to heavenly crab croquettes. The sights and smells were a feast for the senses, and I couldn't resist diving into the local flavours. Next up, a culinary adventure at the 'In Kanazawa House' cook school! We immersed ourselves in the art of sushi-making, blown away by the variety and freshness of the produce. It's like stepping into a food lover's dream – every ingredient tells a story of Kanazawa's rich culinary heritage.

The evenings dining warranted its own reel as the culinary 13 course treat at @crafeat exceeded all expectations. All 13 courses were served on local Kutani porcelein and Waijima laquerware and was so beautiful, coulourful, different and exceptional. it was such a treat and there wasn't anything I didn't like. There were a couple of things I had to take a deep breath before sampling but was always pleasantly surprised. Sperm Sac of cod - also known as 'White Child' was a delicacy that surpassed my expectations.

After 32 hours of being away I tumbled into bed (after another foray on my toilet ??) and can’t wait to see what tomorrow will bring

Day 2 in Japan: Started the day at 4 am with a bit of work before diving into a fabulous breakfast at the hotel – so fresh, so colourful, with a plethora of choices, all beautifully presented. Embarked on a stroll through the enchanting Higashi Chaya district, famous for its Geisha and traditional tea houses Visited the majestic Kanazawa Castle and experienced in a traditional tea ceremony, sipping on of matcha powdered green tea. All this sitting on floors – makes me realise how stiff I have become with age! We then walked over to the Kenrokuen Gardens, where the hand crafted gardens are a huge attraction particularly in autumn and spring when of course the cherry blossoms are out. The gardens are looked after by a team who do not use any power tools at all. Even the grass is cut by hand. At this time of year the branches are all tied up with rope to help support the weight of the snow due to come ??

Heading south to Komatsu, we were privileged to meet Reiki Fukishima and her father, exceptional artisans specializing in porcelain hand-painted ceramics. The incredible miniscule detail of the artwork detailed with painstaking accuracy was a pleasure to watch. Mr. Fukishima's dedication, even post-cataract surgery with a magnifying lens, is a testament to true craftsmanship. we also discovered that the previous evening, some of the beautiful plates and bowls we had eaten from at @crafeat had been theirs. Our journey continued near Kanagasomachi, where our stay at the repurposed elementary school turned boutique hotel, Auberge Eaufeu, was nothing short of magical. A Japanese heritage site, the hotel, curated by Chef Shota Itoi, showcased locally sourced ingredients and artwork from residential art workshops. The highlight of the day: a gastronomic adventure at Eaufeu's renowned restaurant, indulging in a 13-course culinary symphony with the perfect wine pairing.

Day 3 in Ishikawa, Japan - I woke early again and did a little work before heading down to the sumptuous set breakfast served at Auberge Eaufeu. We met the chef, Shota Itoi, (who was only 31) and his team and learned about his history, his award and his aspirations. After saying our goodbyes, we then moved next door to the Sake brewery called Noguchi Naohiko where we had the Sake making process explained and demonstrated followed by a Sake tasting. Each Sake was paired with a tiny Japanese equivalent of a canapé

After far too much Sake ?? we were driven to Yamanaka Onsen where we had site inspections at three very typically traditional high end Japanese hotels or Ryoken as they are called. They are in a hot springs area so many of the rooms have private natural hot baths. Hotels visited were Kayotei, Hanamurasaki in Yamanaka Onsen, Higashi Machi in Kaga and Kai Kaga in Yamashiro Onsen We headed back to Kanazawa and checked into the Sainoniwa Hotel for the night. Although non traditional natural Onsen, they do have public baths. So there are two very hot pools, one for men and one for women. Bathing suits are not allowed so we stripped off and mixed with the locals. A lovely experience followed by a good stint in a massage chair before retiring for the night.