Kanazawa is usually not on the top list of places to visit for tourists traveling in Japan, but if you have the chance to visit it is a beautiful city with many attractions and a rich cultural heritage.
Kanazawa is a city located in the Ishikawa Prefecture on the west coast of Honshu, the main island of Japan. It is approximately 300 kilometers (186 miles) northwest of Tokyo. Kanazawa is known for its well-preserved Edo-era (1603-1868) architecture, beautiful gardens, and traditional crafts such as gold leaf production and lacquerware. It is also a popular tourist destination and transportation hub in the Hokuriku region of Japan.
What to visit in Kanazawa ?
Kanazawa has many interesting sights and attractions to explore. Here are some of the top things to visit in Kanazawa:
- Kenrokuen Garden: This is one of Japan’s most famous and beautiful gardens, featuring a large central pond, walking paths, teahouses, and seasonal flowers.
- Kanazawa Castle: This historic castle was built in the 16th century and features restored turrets, gates, and stone walls.
- Higashi Chaya District: This is a well-preserved geisha district with traditional teahouses, shops, and museums.
- Nagamachi Samurai District: This is a historic district that was home to samurai residences, with narrow streets, earthen walls, and traditional gardens.
- 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art: This is a modern art museum with a unique circular design and a variety of contemporary art exhibits.
- Omicho Market: This is a bustling market with fresh seafood, fruits, vegetables, and other local specialties.
- Myoryuji Temple (Ninja Temple): This temple is also known as the “Ninja Temple” due to its many hidden rooms, traps, and secret passages.
- Kanazawa Yasue Gold Leaf Museum: This museum showcases the traditional craft of gold leaf production, which Kanazawa is famous for.
These are just a few of the many interesting places to visit in Kanazawa. There are also many other temples, shrines, museums, and cultural sites to explore, as well as excellent dining and shopping options.
Culture and Craft in Kanazawa
- Gold leaf production: Kanazawa is one of the main producers of gold leaf in Japan, with a tradition that dates back more than 400 years. Gold leaf is used in a variety of crafts and arts, including lacquerware, pottery, and architecture.
- Traditional crafts: Kanazawa is home to many traditional crafts, including Kutani ware (pottery), Kaga Yuzen (kimono dyeing), and Kanazawa lacquerware.
- Samurai and geisha culture: Kanazawa has a rich history of samurai and geisha culture, with preserved districts and buildings that offer a glimpse into these traditions.
Food in Kanazawa
Kanazawa also has a vibrant food culture, with fresh seafood from the nearby Sea of Japan, local delicacies such as Kaga vegetables and Wagashi (Japanese sweets), and a variety of dining options ranging from street food to Michelin-starred restaurants.
Here are some of the must-try foods in Kanazawa:
- Kaisen-don: Kaisen-don is a rice bowl topped with fresh seafood such as salmon, tuna, squid, and shrimp. Kanazawa’s kaisen-don is particularly famous for its high quality and freshness of the seafood.
- Jibuni: Jibuni is a traditional dish from Kanazawa that consists of duck, vegetables, and wheat gluten simmered in dashi broth. It’s a comforting and hearty dish that’s perfect for colder weather.
- Kaga-ryori: Kaga-ryori is a style of traditional Japanese cuisine that originated in Kanazawa. It features a variety of local ingredients and cooking techniques, including simmering, grilling, and deep-frying.
- Kanazawa sweets: Kanazawa is also known for its traditional sweets, such as gold leaf ice cream, gold leaf-covered mochi, and higashi (dry sweets). These sweets often incorporate gold leaf, which is a specialty product of the region.