Looking to add a stop in Kanazawa City, Japan to your Japan travel itinerary? Not only does is Kanazawa beautiful city full of tradition, culture, and history, it’s a must-visit for foodies traveling to Japan!
Leave it to your local guides (AKA the staff here at MACHIYA INNS & HOTELS) for the best places to visit when you come to Kanazawa, in Ishikawa, Japan. You’ll have your trip planned out in no time!
Kanazawa is the capital city of Ishikawa Prefecture, Japan. When looking at a map of Japan, you’ll find Ishikawa towards the center, located on the main island of Honshu. Ishikawa is also bordered on the west side by the Sea of Japan.
Although it may first look like Kanazawa is out of the way, especially if you’re planning on visiting the main cities of Tokyo, Osaka, and Kyoto, Kanazawa is served by the Hokuriku Shinkansen. A trip from Tokyo to Kanazawa takes just 2.5 hours by bullet train, while a trip from Kyoto to Kanazawa takes approximately 2 hours and 10 minutes. If you plan on purchasing the Japan Rail Pass, the routes will all be covered, making this a great addition to your Japan itinerary.
Kanazawa City, like Kyoto City, was not damaged during the air raids of World War Two. As a result, the city’s architectural heritage was left in tact. The castle town, samurai districts, various geisha teahouse districts, and historical temples and shrines are left relatively well-preserved and can be enjoyed by visitors to this day.
The reason that Kanazawa has so much to see and do can in part be credited to the Maeda Clan. Kanazawa served as the seat of the powerful Maeda Clan during the Edo time period of Japan, second only to the Tokugawa feudal family. As the center of the clan’s power, Kanazawa developed into a cultural hub that rivaled Kyoto and Edo (former Tokyo). The clan’s legacy lives on today through the rich culture, traditions, crafts, and cuisines that can be found in Kanazawa City.
Now that you know a little more about Kanazawa, read on to discover some of our must-visit spots and things to do in the city!
Omicho Market in Kanazawa, Japan is every foodie travelers dream! If you’re looking for things to do in Kanazawa, be sure that this is at the top of your list. Omicho Market is Kanazawa City’s biggest fresh food market, and one of the best places to sample the extensive and delicious local cuisine the city is famous for.
This market has been a part of daily life for locals for over 300 years, and is a great place to sightsee as well as grab a bite. Be sure head here in the morning, as that is when the fresh seafood that Kanazawa is famous for will be the best! Omicho Market is also conveniently located in central Kanazawa, near Kenrokuen and Kanazawa Castle, making it easy to add to any itinerary.
There’s no better place to experience Japanese history then a Japanese castle, and Kanazawa Castle is no exception! Kanazawa Castle was the seat of the Maeda Clan, a powerful samurai family, during the Edo Period. The awe-inspiring Japanese architecture will have you feeling like you’ve just gone back in time!
Although many parts of Kanazawa Castle are reconstructions, they have remained faithful to the original architecture of the castle. There is also the Gyokuseninmaru Garden, a traditional-style Japanese garden which is free to enjoy. We recommend checking out the castle and castle grounds first, then finishing up with a walk around the garden and a spot of Japanese tea and traditional wagashi at the teahouse overlooking the garden!
No Japan trip is complete without visiting a traditional Japanese garden, and luckily Kanazawa, Japan has one of the best! Kenrokuen Garden is one of the Three Great Gardens of Japan, and widely considered to be one of the most beautiful and best representation of Japanese gardening in the country.
Although this garden is beautiful all year round, we recommend visiting during the winter months. Kenrokuen Garden is often associated with snow, as the winter’s in Kanazawa and Ishikawa Prefecture are well known for heavy snow fall. To protect the trees in the garden from snow, bamboo poles and ropes are used to form structures that support and protect the limbs of the trees. This is called the yukitsuri technique, and has become a symbol of Kanazawa City.
Be sure to combine a visit to Kenrokuen Garden with nearby Kanazawa Castle!
If you’re looking for things to do in Kanazawa during your vacation, make time to visit Ishiura Shrine. This Shinto shrine was built over 1,500 years ago, and is the oldest shrine in Kanazawa, Japan.
This shrine is especially beautiful during the summer months, as the vivid vermillion of the torii gates contrast brilliantly with the greenery all around. Be sure to pick up lucky amulets for a unique souvenir, as the amulets from Ishiura Shrine are very popular with locals and said to be effective! You can also find the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art across from Ishiura Shrine.
Geisha are an iconic part of Japanese culture known throughout the world. Kanazawa is home to several teahouse districts, which are traditional areas which house the chaya, or teahouses, where geisha entertain. Higashi Chaya District, established in 1830, is the largest of the 3 districts in Kanazawa, Japan.
Higashi Chaya District is a beautiful representation of the historical architecture of Kanazawa, as many of the teahouses still remain there today, Many have been repurposed into souvenir shops, cafes, and restaurants. The Higashi Chaya District is also the place to be for travelers with a sweet-tooth. You can find delicious Japanese sweets and desserts here, ranging from traditional to modern!
Whether you’re a first time traveler in Japan or are a veteran, Oyama Shrine is a unique and interesting sightseeing spot to add to your list in Kanazawa, Japan. Although this is a Shinto shrine, Oyama Shrine is an interesting fusion of traditional Japanese, European, and Chinese design elements all in a Japanese Shinto shrine!
The distinct shrine gates were designed by a Dutch architect. This gate, while unpopular at first, has grown on the Kanazawa people with its unique design and beautiful Dutch-style stained glass windows. We also recommend taking a walk around the garden here, designed by Kobori Enshu, a famous gardener and architect.
These are just 6 of our must do things in Kanazawa, Japan, but don’t think this is it! There are many more places to visit and things to do while in this historical and unique city, so be sure to add a stop in Kanazawa to you Japan travel plans!