As one of the few cities in Japan that escaped the air raids of the Second World War, Kanazawa boasts a remarkably well preserved old quarter, making it a popular place to visit for those looking to see old style Japan.
Places to visit in Kanazawa
D.T. Suzuki Museum
Just a ten minute walk from the fabulous Kenrokuen lies the D.T. Zuzuki Museum, a space dedicated to the memory and works of Suzuki Daisetz Teitaro, a 20th century Buddhist philosopher. Suzuki studied and later became a proponent of Zen Buddhism especially. Elements of Zen are present throughout the grounds, which is built in simplistic thought provoking lines, much as one might expect from a Zen temple. Counted among it’s main features is a large reflecting pool where one can sit a while and contemplate.
One of the old districts in Kanzawa, Higashichaya was once an entertainment area filled with teahouses and geisha to entertain the wealthy. This charming district is the largest of the three remaining in Kanazawa.
Ishikawa Prefecture Traditional Craft Museum
At the Ishikawa Traditional Craft Museum, curators have compiled a list of thirty-six arts or crafts of Ishikawa prefecture. Within the walls of the museum are examples of lacquerware, Japanese umbrellas, and of course, Kanazawa Gold Leaf.
Kanazawa Castle Park
Once ruled by the Maeda clan, only two storehouses and one of the old gates remain of the original Kanazawa Castle. Everything else, including the castle keep, was lost to various fires throughout the centuries. Reconstruction efforts, however, have returned a few of the old buildings to life, making for a pleasant visit.
The powerful Maeda family commissioned Kenrokuen for their own use in early 17th Century. The garden, considered to be one of the top three in Japan, is designed somewhat after Chinese garden theory, with a natural Japanese reflection. Opened to the public in 1871, the garden has been drawing visitors ever since. It’s not a wonder, either, as Kenrokuen is beautiful in any season.
Our next point to visit is Myoryuji temple, less-formally known as Ninjadera, which earned its colloquial name for the many deceptive defenses built into the temple. The temple’s original intent was more as a military outpost rather than a place of worship. Due to restrictions by the shogun, however, it was disguised as a temple instead.
Nestled within the old Samurai district of Nagamachi lies the former home of the Nomura clan. This Samurai family served the Maeda clan during the Edo period. During the Meiji era, like many Samurai families, they lost much of the wealth and were forced to eventually sell their home. Though it once fell into decline, a wealthy businessman restored it to its former glory. In addition to a beautiful garden there are also many Samurai artifacts on display.
The term Ochaya means simply, tea house, but this is somewhat of a misnomer in the case of the Shima Teahouse. Though tea certainly was served here, this establishment was better known as a place for wealthy locals to come and drink sake and be entertained by geisha. Though the teahouse no longer caters to these clientele, one can certainly experience the atmosphere of this historical building.
Before visiting the city proper, stop off at Omicho market. For nearly 280 years this market continually served the citizens of Kanazawa. The majority of shops sell fish or sea products, other sell vegetables, fruits, or other manners of edible goods.