5 Recommended Sightseeing Spots in Kanazawa

Kanazawa, sometimes called Little Kyoto, is a town where you can experience history and culture as you enjoy the townscape. For those who have never been before, here are 5 major sightseeing spots you should check out.


1. Kenroku-en

Kenroku-en is a garden that was the origin of the garden constructed on the outer edge of Kanazawa Castle in the mid-17th century. It's a garden with a pond, a representative style of the Edo period, and it's one of Japan's three great gardens along with Okayama's Kouraku-en and Mito's Kairaku-en. It's full of people enjoying nature all year round. Kenroku-en is very large, and there are a few teahouses on the premises, so you can enjoy Kaga's famous wagashi (traditional Japanese confectionery) while gazing out on the beautiful garden. Also, each season has certain areas lit up so you can't miss it. No matter when you go there's plenty to see.

Photo by Kanazawa city

2. 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa

The 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art was built in 2004 to stand as the new symbol of Kanazawa, a city full of traditions and culture remaining from the halcyon days. As the name implies, it's an art museum where you can experience 21st century art. The 1st and B1 floors of the round building are made with glass, so it's made so you can enjoy the bright open feeling. There's no separation between front and back, so you can enjoy the art any way you like. The art gallery is broken up into two zones, the exhibition zone and the public zone, and you can enjoy the art in the public zone for free. Parts of the public zone are open until 10:00 pm, so it would be good to take a walk here after dinner.

Photo by Kanazawa city

The world-famous Japanese architecture unit, SANNA, designed the building, so the architecture itself is a must-see.

Swimming pool designed by Leandro Erlich, an Argentine artist.

2. 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa

3. Kanazawa Castle Park

Kanazawa Castle, one of the symbols of Kanazawa, is a daimyo castle that was built in 1583 by the daimyo of the Kaga fiefdom, Maeda Toshiie and remained in use until 1869 under the 14th daimyo. In 1996, it was opened to the general public as Kanazawa Castle Park. Due to huge fires, all the buildings other than the Ishikawa gate and the Sanjukken Nagaya have burned down, but in 2001 buildings like the the Hishi watchtower, Gojikken Nagaya, and Hashizume-mon watchtower were reconstructed according to ancient maps and documents. It was built using traditional wooden framework construction techniques that don't use a single nail, so the building itself is a must-see. Please properly examine the various techniques showcasing the craftsmen's excellency.

3. Kanazawa Castle Park

4. Higashi Chaya District

Higashi Chaya District, an area overflowing with ambiance thanks to its cobblestone streets and traditional buildings, is the biggest of the 3 chaya (teahouse) districts in the city and is registered as a national Important Preservation District of Groups of Traditional Buildings. Even today, after sundown, you can hear the sound of the shamisen (traditional stringed instrument) and taiko drums. Higashi Chaya District has shops where first-time customers aren't allowed without an invitation, but other than that there are cafes where tourists can easily stop in, as well as plenty of sweets shops and traditional souvenir shops offering Kaga products and traditional crafts. People who are looking for souvenirs can find cosmetics using Kanazawa's famous gold leaf, brooches made with mizuhiki (decorative cord made from twisted paper), and other beautiful items from which you won't be able to tear your eyes away.

5. Omicho Market

This market offers plenty of products, including fresh seafood, Kaga vegetables, raw fish, side dishes, snacks, and even everyday products. It opened in 1721 and to this day continues to support the lives of Kanazawa residents. While you can enjoy the vigorous calls of the restaurant employees and the bustling atmosphere of the place, if you come all this way you should definitely stop by some of the food establishments within the market. All of the restaurants offer food using the freshest seasonal ingredients that are so delicious you might drool on yourself. Sushi or the kaisen-don (seafood rice bowl) made using fresh fish are particularly recommended.

Photo by Kanazawa city

There are plenty of great sightseeing spots in Kanazawa. It's easy to reach from Tokyo thanks to the Hokuriku shinkansen, so please make your way to Kanazawa if you get the chance.

*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.

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