Translated by Tomoka Aono
Kanazawa - 8 Places To Visit In The City Of Refined Japanese Culture
Kanazawa, located in Ishikawa prefecture, can be reached from Tokyo and Osaka in about two and a half hours, making it a convenient place to visit for those who wish to feel the historical and contemporary arts of Japan.
Written by ニコ
Kanazawa - A Must-Visit City in Japan
Kanazawa, located in Ishikawa, is accessible from Tokyo or Osaka via Hokuriku Shinkansen (bullet train) in only about two and a half hours. A nostalgic Japanese streetscape still remains in the city, and popular spots such as the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa Castle, and Kenrokuen Garden attract a lot of visitors every day.
Kanazawa Area Guide
The popular spots that you just can’t miss in Kanazawa are Kenrokuen Garden and Kanazawa Castle. The Nagamachi Buke Yashiki District, where the samurai used to live, and the Korinbo area where a lot of fashion brands have branches are also interesting places to visit.
Misashigatsuji and Owaricho where old houses and stores still exist and Higashi Chayamachi District which is known for its elegant streetscape are also popular destinations for visitors.
Weather in Kanazawa and What to Wear
Compared with Tokyo, it is cooler throughout a year in Kanazawa. Except in the summer time (July and August), long-sleeved clothing is needed. It gets very cold and the city has a lot of snow during the winter, so you should be prepared for the cold with a down jacket or heavy coat, as well as scarves and gloves.
Transportation within Kanazawa
The Kanazawa Loop Bus takes you from Kanazawa station to Higashi Chaya District, Kenrokuen Garden, Saigawa River, Korinbo, Omicho Market, and other major spots. The bus comes every 12 minutes, so you should take advantage of this convenient service.
On the other hand, the Kanazawa Strolling Bus goes to smaller paths and less crowded places. If you want to see something different from major tourist destinations, this bus is recommended. Taxies are also available, so choose the best method of transportation for you depending on your schedule and budget.
Here is a list of popular destinations in Kanazawa for your reference.
1. Kenrokuen Garden
Kenrokuen Garden, constructed as the private garden of daimyo Maeda Toshiie, is one of Three Great Gardens of Japan. This is where you can enjoy a beautiful landscape every season.
Address: Ishikawa prefecture, Kanazawa city, Kenrokucho 1-4
Fee: Adult 310 yen, Children over 6 years old under 18 years old 100 yen, infants under 5 years old and seniors over 65 years old Free
Hours: 7:00-18:00 *8:00-17:00 from October 16 to February
Closed: Open 365 days
2. Higashi Chaya District
The Higashi Chaya District is where you can find a lot of old Chaya (Japanese Tea houses). Not only chaya but also craft shops can be found here.
The neighborhood was registered as an Important Preservation District for Traditional Buildings in 2001 and has been well preserved as a Cultural Property because of its streetscape. You can hear melodies of shamisen (a Japanese lute-like string instrument) and taiko (Japanese drum) in the evening just like in the olden days.
Address: Ishikawa prefecture, Kanazawa city, Higashiyama
3. Buke Yashiki - The Samurai Houses
The Buke Yashiki, or samurai residences, refer to a neighborhood with old samurai houses close to the center of the city.
One of them, which used to be owned by a samurai lord called Nomura Denbe Nobusada, is now open to the public in Nagamachi. You can observe the interesting architecture of historical Japanese houses up close here. If you go up the stone stairs, there is a tearoom where you can enjoy Japanese green tea while viewing the beautiful garden.
Address: Ishikawa prefecture, Kanazawa city, Nagamachi 1-3-32
Fee: Adult 550 yen, High school students 400 yen, elementary and junior high school students 250 yen
Hours: 8:30-17:30 (April-September), 8:30-16:30 (October-March)
Closed: December 26 and 27
4. 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art
The museum is composed of three areas: architecture, contemporary art, and crafts. This cylinder-shaped museum is covered with glass, which looks like an art object itself. It has both charged and free admission areas, and there are artworks that can be enjoyed with all the five senses outside.
The most popular artwork is “The Swimming Pool” by Leandro Erlich. This is an interesting piece. You feel as if you were seeing outside from inside the pool while it looks as if there were people inside the pool when you look at the pool from outside.
Address: Ishikawa prefecture, Kanazawa city, Hirosaka 1-2-1
Fee: Admission Free
Hours: Interactive Area 9:00-22:00, Exhibition Area 10:00-18:00 (open until 20:00 on Fridays and Saturdays)
5. Omicho Market
Since its opening in 1721, the Omicho Market has been Kanazawa's "kitchen" for over 290 years. Not only food but also daily goods are available in this Sunday market.
Address: Ishikawa prefecture, Kanazawa city, Kamiomi-cho 50
6. Kanazawa Castle
Kanazawa Castle was constructed in 1583 by the daimyo Toshiie Maeda. It was devasted by fire several times, but it was restored every time until today.
Kanazawa Castle is one of the largest wooden castles constructed after the Meiji Period in Japan, and the technique that made it possible to construct the castle without any single nails is one of the points well worth admiring.
Address: Ishikawa prefecture, Kanazawa city, Marunouchi
Hours: March 1-October 15 7:00-18:00, October 16-February 28 8:00-17:00
7. Kanazawa Station
Kanazawa Station is the gateway to Kanazawa. You can find here the Hospitality Dome, which is a glass dome designed in the image of offering an umbrella to the visitors, and the Tsuzumi Gate, which is designed with the image of a tsuzumi (Japanese drum) in mind. These unique artworks welcome visitors to Kanazawa.
Address: Ishikawa Prefecture, Kanazawa city, Kinoshimbomachi 1-1
8. Kanazawa Noh Museum
The leader of the domain that later became Kanazawa used to love Noh theater (*1) and promoted it among the common people, so Noh had become very popular in Kanazawa.
The Kanazawa Noh Museum offers exhibits detailing the history of Noh in Kanazawa. Valuable artifacts related to Noh are displayed here. There is a section where visitors can try on Noh masks and costumes and even a section with children’s books on Noh.
*1 Noh: Japanese traditional dance theater.
Address: Ishikawa prefecture, Kanazawa city, Hirosaka 1-2-25
Fee: Adults 300 yen, Seniors over 65 years old 200 yen, High school students and children Free
Hours: 10:00-18:00 (Last admission until 17:30)
Closed: Mondays (except holidays), year-end and New year holidays
Kanazawa has many more interesting places other than the ones listed above. Visit Kanazawa and enjoy your stay to the fullest!