By Daphne Janssens de Varebeke. Posted on December 23, 2015
Kanazawa, a city located between the mountains and the Sea of Japan, is full of tradition and has been spared destruction due to war and natural disasters. It was a very pleasant city to visit during the spring for me, but all seasons offer good activities and beautiful scenery. A one-day visit is possible, but two days might be a more pleasant way to visit.
If you come by train, the first attraction will be the station, with its impressive glass dome architecture. Have a look at the East gate. Outside, you’ll find yourself under a giant wooden torii (gate). The overall decoration is also very surprising — like, for example, the time displayed in the shape of mini water fountains.
A morning visit to Ohmicho fish market would be an excellent idea. Discover many different local fish and seafood. Here and there, eatery stands offer grilled oysters or grilled ayu (a type of small trout), fruit juices, etc. Be impressed by the variety in sizes and shapes of crab. Together with the vegetable and fruit stands, it all looks very colorful!
After seeing all the delicious food, you will probably get hungry. On the first floor of the market building, you’ll find a selection of excellent restaurants. I would recommend the chirashi zushi (a bowl of vinegar rice topped with a selection of raw fish) for lunch. You will probably have to queue, but you can simply write down your name on the list at the entrance of any restaurant. In the meantime, you can wander around in the market instead of waiting in line.
Kenroku-en is one of the most beautiful Japanese gardens. This high ranked garden is an oasis of colors and serenity. Surrounded by beautiful views, water, blooming flowers and old pine trees, it is a perfect place to reach an optimal relaxation. In the peaceful teahouse, you can enjoy traditional matcha (bitter green tea) and relax your mind as well.
This garden offers plenty of amazing scenery each season for everyone to enjoy!
If, after this garden visit, you still feel like having another walk, then you can visit the Kanazawa Castle gardens and the castle itself across the street.
The 21st century museum presents a stark contrast to the history and tradition of Kanazawa. The interesting architecture and location make it worth visiting. The good thing is that the museum is free of charge, aside from the exhibition section.
Are you more interested in the lives of geishas and artisans? Then you definitely should visit Higashi Chaya district. It is a very well-preserved district with houses more than 180 years old. Many of them are renovated artisans' shops and restaurants. Two geisha houses allow visitors inside.
Don’t miss the gold leaf souvenir shops with plenty of original souvenirs and walls covered with gold leaf! You can find all products imaginable made with gold leaf as well as the unimaginable, like food and drinks! Yes, gold leaf ice cream, cake with gold leaf, Japanese sake glistening with gold—name it, and you’ll find it!
Did you know that 99% of the gold leaf used in Japan is originally from Kanazawa? There is also a museum in the city center.
Interested in Samurai houses and culture? Have a walk down historically preserved streets with over 100-year-old samurai residences in the Naga-Machi Chaya district. Some houses allow visitors inside. Let yourself be engrossed by the historphical atmosphere.
After an excellent seafood dinner, you might want to see the garden. Admission is free, and the lit up trees are magical at night.
Access: 3 hours from Nagoya Station by JR Limited Express Shirasagi (8 trains/day)
Daphne Janssens de VarebekeDaphné Janssens de Varebeke is living in Japan, Chubu Region, for nearly one year now. She is currently learning Japanese. She loves travelling and outdoor activities such as hiking and skiing. Cooking and discovering new dishes are also some of her favorite activities.
* Disclaimer: Japan Travel Nagoya Chubu does not gaurantee that the information on this website is accurate and up to date.