Kanazawa, a castle town on the coast of the Sea of Japan, is the capital of Ishikawa Prefecture and the largest city in the Hokuriku district.
Local Artisans and Theater
Kanazawa is a hub of culture and artistic creativity. Skilled tradesmen employ methods hundreds of years old to make Kaga Yuzen, Kutaniyaki and Shikki products. Kaga Yuzen is the art of painting on silk, used for kimonos as well as smaller items such as scarves and handkerchiefs. Kutaniyaki is colorful ceramic, and Shikki is lacquer ware. Kanazawa produces 99% of the gold leaf used in Japan.
Noh is a form of musical drama that has been performed in Japan since the 14th century. Older than Kabuki and more restrained, Noh performances are elegant and slow-paced. Since the Edo Period (1603 – 1868) Kanazawa has developed and promoted the Kaga-Hosho style of Noh. Performances are regularly held throughout the year by Kanazawa Nohgakkai at the Ishikawa Prefecture Noh Theater. The Kanazawa Noh Museum encourages the understanding and appreciation of Noh.
The most popular attraction of Kanazawa is Kenrokuen Garden, which has more than 25 acres of streams, waterfalls, bridges, walkways, and ponds. Kenrokuen used to be the garden of Kanazawa Castle, and is considered one of Japan's “three most beautiful landscape gardens.” Kanazawa Castle Park is adjacent to Kenrokuen.
While in Kanazawa you may want to visit Myoryuji, which has the facade of a temple but in reality is a military defense post. Commonly known as Ninjadera (“Ninja Temple”), Myoryuji was designed to serve as a hideout or escape route in the event of an attack. It includes an ingenious layout of secret rooms, traps, hidden tunnels and a maze of corridors and staircases.
Samurai and Geisha Districts
The Nagamachi Samurai District is located at the foot of the former Kanazawa Castle, and is where samurai and their families lived. The atmosphere of this historic area has been preserved and has many interesting sites.
Kanazawa has three chaya (geisha) districts: Higashi Chayagai, Nishi Chayagai, and Kazuemachi. You will find tea houses open for business as well as those that have been converted into museums. Recognizable by their colorful kimonos, hairstyles and makeup, Geisha, trained in traditional song and dance, perform for guests at chaya, or tea houses.
Kanazawa's largest fresh food market, Omicho, has about 200 shops and stalls of fresh seafood, produce, flowers, clothing and kitchen utensils. Omicho gets especially busy around noon, when locals and tourists come to have lunch at restaurants inside the market.