Land area: 49,900 ha
Designated on November 12, 1962
Photo: Hakusan Nature Consercation Center
While there are many mountains which have been worshiped and provided spiritual support to people in Japan, Mt. Hakusan is one of the best-known among such sacred mountains. Abundant nature in the mountains such as the valleys that remain snow-covered even in summer, large communities of alpine plants, beautiful waterfalls and golden eagles flying majestically are very purifying to the heart.
Hakusan National Park consists of the major peaks of the Hakusan Mountains in the central part of the main island and a range of mountains stretching to their south. It is a mountainous park that maintains pristine wilderness with little human influence.
Mt. Hakusan, the core of the park, is composed of three main peaks including Mt. Gozengamine (2,702 m), the highest mountain. It has been known as one of Japan's representative mountains since ancient times and admired as one of the "Three Sacred Mountains" along with Mt. Fujisan and Mt. Tateyama. The Shirayamahimejinja Shrine located on the top serves as the head of more than 3,000 Hakusanjinja Shrines in Japan, so the mountain attracts many pilgrims. Like Mt. Fujisan, viewing the sunrise from the top of Mt. Hakusan is regarded as an important spiritual experience.
There are records to indicate that Mt. Hakusan was an active volcano until the 17th century. The charms of nature seen on the mountain, such as the scattering of fine volcanic lakes, snowy valleys that retain the snow even in summer and communities of alpine plants, have a dynamic beauty.
The geological formation of Mt. Hakusan is the Mesozoic Tetori stratum. As the layer contains plentiful fossils, it has high academic value.
At the foot of the mountain, there are many hot springs. At Iwamaonsen Spa in the north, a group of tall sinter cones, congealed calc-sinter, have grown as high as 2 m. In the east of Mt. Gozengamine towers Shiramizunotaki Waterfall, a scenic waterfall which is as famous as Kegonnotaki Waterfall in Nikko or Nachinotaki Waterfall in Kumano. Around the mountain, there are many notable sites.
Mt. Hakusan is the westernmost mountain with an alpine belt in Japan and therefore, sets the western limit for the distribution of alpine plants. It is the westernmost point where more than 100 species, including Japanese stone pines (Pinus pumila), can be found. Maries fir (Abies mariesii), a typical species in subalpine coniferous forests in the main island, also has its western limit here.
The base of the mountains is mostly covered with broad-leaved deciduous forests and as the altitude becomes higher, the vegetation changes to Erman's birch (Betula ermanii) woods and then Japanese stone pine woods. Since the slopes of the mountains are relatively gentle, they are covered with large communities of alpine plants. Many of them have the word "Hakusan" in their names such as Hakusankozakura (Primula cuneifolia var. hakusanensis) and Hakusanichige (Anemone narcissiflora subsp. nipponica).
As the natural environment in the park area is well-conserved, the population of mammals such as black bears, Japanese serows and Japanese macaques is high. Golden eagles, mountain hawk eagles and other rare species of raptors also live here. Along the Super Woodland Road which runs across the northern part of the park, there is an observation hut set by Ishikawa Prefecture. Visitors can observe golden eagles flying majestically if they are lucky. The prefecture also established the Hakusan Nature Conservation Center for the purpose of research, environmental protection and educational activities for the general public.