Going by the name of "Kaga-hyakumangoku," the Maeda clan of Kaga-han ruled one of the largest feudal domains in Japan during Edo period (1603~1868). Kanazawa Castle was the home castle of this feudal lord and you can see what the castle looked like in Kanazawa castle site. Here is the list of things to see in Kanazawa Castle.
What is Kanazawa Castle?
Kanazawa Castle was the castle of one of the most prominent daimyo (Japanese feudal lord), Maeda Clan of Kaga. Known as a famous touristic site of Kanazawa, Kenroku-en is an old private garden built as a subordinate garden for Kanazawa Castle. It is a typical flatland-mountain castle (a castle built on a mountain or hill in a flatland) and has a lot of watchtowers around. Since 1996, it has been open to the public as Kanazawa Castle Park. It lost all of the buildings except for Ishikawa-mon and Sanjukken Nagaya to a series of conflagrations. Based on old drawings and documents, however, a lot of the buildings and gardens have been successfully and accurately rebuilt. Its impressive appearance continues to amaze people to date.
Entrance Fee (Hishi Yagura/Gojukken Nagaya/Hashizume-mon Tsuzuki Yagura/Hashizume-mon): Adults (above 18) 310 JPY, Children (6~17) 100 JPY
There are 3 gates in Kanazawa Castle: Hashizume-mon, Kahoku-mon, and Ishikawa-mon. Hashizume-mon had been said to be the most formal gate of all, however, it was lost to a fire. With the complete analysis of experts, it was rebuilt in 2001 based on the data. The splendid looking castle gate and the paving stones composed of squire stones that are placed 45 degree to the running direction are the things that you must see at this site.
Kahoku-mon is another massive gate which has been rebuilt in 2009, according to existing drawings, old pictures and documents, and archaeological researches. A couple of things to keep an eye on here are the squire roof tiles and the mud walls made of plaster called "Namako-kabeshiage" at the first gate.
Also, Ishikawa-mon which is close to Kenroku-en is registered as an important cultural property, and is lit up at night. Right after you entered the first gate, you will see stone walls both on your right and left. Those walls are different from each other in how they look and how they were built, so that is another thing to check out .
*the image above is Kahoku-mon, below Ishikawa-mon
3. Gyokusen'inmaru Garden
Gyokusen'inmaru Garden is a unique stroll garden with a central pond, and has been added changes by successive feudal lords of Kaga since 1634 for a long period of time. It was abolished in Meiji period (1868~1912), but with the archaeological researches, drawings, and documents, it has been restored in 2015 to what it looked like in the late Edo period. The garden is definitely worthy of seeing, as it has a lot of unique features all around it such as a waterfall with 4 steps and stone walls with waterfalls.
4. Ote Moat/Imori Moat
Kanazawa Castle used to be surrounded by 4 moats: Ote Moat, Imori Moat, Hyakken Moat, and Shiratori Moat. Ote Moat used to be the only remaining moat, but Imori Moat is now restored as well. Around Ote Moat, you can see how the things looked like in Edo period, whereas you can see Kanazawa Castle's stone walls from Imori Moat.
5. Hishi Yagura/Hashizume-mon Tsuzuki Yagura/Gojukken Nagaya
There are dozens of watchtowers in Kanazawa Castle and they all look impressive. The main ones to check out are Hishi Yagura, which was built to have a wide view around the castle, and Hashizume-mon Tsuzuki Yagura, which is one of the biggest wooden castle structures built after the early modern era in Japan. The wide watchtower that connects these 2 watchtowers is Gojukken Nagaya. It is a popular photo spot and you can take a look around inside the building, so it will be fun to go there.
6. Stone Walls Tour
Another thing about Kanazawa Castle is that it has a various kinds of stone walls. Because of the fires and earthquakes that occurred in Edo period and the reparations, you can see a whole bunch of different stone walls depending on when and where they were built such as ones with rustic beauty, ones with a lot of different colors, etc.. They are so diverse that they are known as "the museum of stone walls." Walking around the castle while paying attention to the stone walls would be a fun thing to do as well!
When you are in Kanazawa, please refer to this article and enjoy the impressive Kanazawa Castle!
*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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