Your guide to Kanazawa.
If you are in search of historic Japan, look no further than Kanazawa. A UNESCO-recognized City of Crafts and Folk Art, Kanazawa emerged from World War II largely unscathed, and the city is now one of the best surviving examples of Edo-era architecture in Japan. Consequently, Kanazawa evokes a feeling of stepping back in time and it is this connection to the Geishas and Samurais past that fascinates and delights in equal measure. Step ashore for a vision of the way things were, savor tea in an authentic 19th Century teahouse, and feast on Japan’s finest delicacies, fresh from one of the country’s oldest markets.
Kanazawa Old Town is easy to navigate on foot with much to explore within a small area. Higashi Chaya-gai is well worth a visit. A preserved district of Japanese teahouses, it offers a fascinating glimpse into Kanazawa’s past. Kenrokuen, one of Japan’s most beautiful landscaped gardens, is another of the city’s big draws. A visit is a truly multi-sensory experience that changes season-by-season. Across the road you will find Kanazawa Castle Park, a symbol of the city. Originally built during Maeda times, the castle has been restored in traditional style. Finally, Kanazawa Train Station is an attraction in itself, a Torii-gated entrance and traditional Japanese art, offering much to admire.
Eating and drinking.
Kanazawa is famous for its seafood—an accolade that has made the city a mecca for tourists. To sample this culinary specialty for yourself head to Omicho Market, a colorful maze of stalls specializing in fresh seafood. Established in the Edo period, Omicho is Kanazawa’s largest food market and busiest around noon when hungry locals form orderly lines at the most sought after restaurants. Delicacies include sushi, Donburi (steamed rice with a meat, fish or vegetable topping—Japan’s equivalent of fast food) and Jibuni, a Japanese hotpot. Sake is brewed locally and a great accompaniment to a meal in Kanazawa.
If you are looking to bring home a token of your time in Kanazawa you will not have to look far. The city offers a diverse range of shopping outlets, from undercover malls and department stores to independents selling traditional crafts and vintage goods. Kanazawa is renowned for lacquerware, ceramics and textiles, all of which are widely available to take home as souvenirs. Kanazawa Hyakubangai, a mall within Kanazawa Station offers a variety of each, and is a great one-stop shop in the city. If it is fashion that interests you, Kanazawa FORUS mall, popular with locals, offers an eclectic mix of labels spread over several floors.
An hour’s drive from Kanazawa brings you to Shirakawa-gō an enchanting village and UNESCO heritage site. Set within a mountainous environment, prone to heavy snowfall, houses in Shirakawa-gō feature thick thatched roofs, constructed in a building style known as gasshō-zukuri. Two hours’ North of Kanazawa, lies the Noto Peninsula, where you will find a range of attractions, including traditional rice fields, beaches, a lantern museum and a salt farm village. Venturing South offers the opportunity to visit Tojinbo in the neighboring Fukui Prefecture. This vast jagged cliff formation attracts millions of visitors per year, and is just an hour by train from Kanazawa Station.