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Why Kanazawa?

An intriguing city with a fascinating ancient samurai district

Kanazawa boasts many historic attractions such as restored residences and Edo-era districts, as well as modern museums, markets, regional handicrafts and art. The old castle town and adjacent districts such as the Nagamachi samurai district and chaya entertainment districts remain in good condition and are ideally explored on foot. Kanazawa's unchallenged main attraction is Kenrokuen Garden, one of Japan's "three best landscape gardens". Also well worth a visit are Omicho Market, packed with stalls selling freshly caught seafood, fruit and vegetables and other produce, and the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art which showcases art produced since 1980.

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Higashi chaya district kanazawa japan

Kanazawa Highlights

Here we have selected a few of the sights and experiences that you really should see on a visit to Kanazawa.


Kenrokuen Garden

Kenrokuen in Kanazawa is justifiably classified as one of Japan's "three most beautiful landscape gardens". The spacious grounds used to be the outer garden of Kanazawa Castle and were constructed by the ruling Maeda family over a period of nearly two centuries. Opened to the public in 1871, Kenrokuen features a variety of flowering trees which provide the garden with a different look for each season.


Nagamachi Samurai District

Nagamachi was a samurai district located at the foot of the old Kanazawa Castle, where samurai and their families used to reside. The area preserves its historic atmosphere with the remaining samurai residences, earthen walls, private entrance gates, narrow lanes and canals. One of the main attractions of the district is the centrally located Nomura-ke, a restored samurai residence from the time when samurai were prosperous. In contrast is the Shinise Kinenkan Museum, a restored pharmacy displaying the lives of the merchant class which rose in prosperity as the samurai declined.


Kanazawa Castle

From 1583 to the end of the Edo Period, Kanazawa Castle was the seat of the powerful Maeda Clan, lords of Kaga, a feudal domain ranking second only to the Tokugawa in terms of size and wealth. The castle burnt down several times over the centuries, and the most recent fires of 1881 were survived only by two storehouses and the Ishikawa-mon Gate. The gate dates from 1788 and faces Kenrokuen. For several decades, Kanazawa University occupied the former castle grounds until the campus was moved to the city's outskirts in the early 1990s. Since then, a project is underway to rebuild the castle's former buildings.


Omicho Market

Omicho Market has been Kanazawa's largest fresh food market since the Edo Period. Today, it is a busy and colourful network of covered streets lined with 200 shops and stalls, mainly specialising in the excellent local seafood and produce. Although the market is most exciting during the morning hours, it also gets quite busy around noon, when people for lunch at the restaurants inside the market. It is not unusual for queues to form in front of the popular restaurants, many of which specialise in rice bowls topped with fresh Kanazawa seafood.


21st Century Museum

The 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, in downtown Kanazawa, just a few steps from Kenrokuen, exhibits works by acclaimed contemporary artists from Japan and all over the world, and is among Japan's most popular art museums. The building's unique architecture distinguishes it from other museums and buildings around the city. The circular building, with no facade or main entrance, was designed without a front or back to discourage its patrons from approaching the museum, and its art, from only one direction.

A selection of tours to Kanazawa

  • Discover Japan by Rail new flash other
    Japan Group Tour Rail

    Discover Japan by Rail

    A tour discovering this fascinating country's main attractions using iconic bullet trains

    View this package
  • Cherry Blossom update flash other
    Japan Group Tour Nature

    Cherry Blossom Tour

    A 13 day tour that explores the very best of Japan’s culture and nature, during the popular cherry blossom season.

    View this package
  • Lake Ashi hakone japan
    Japan Semi-Escorted Family

    Japan Family Tour

    Explore the history and culture of this amazing country, with fun-filled excursions for all the family.

    View this package
  • Geisha temple Kyoto japan
    Japan Semi-Escorted Culture

    Japan Heritage

    Explore Japan’s classic sights, starting in the exciting capital city of Tokyo, famous for its fresh sushi.

    View this package
  • frost snow monkeys pool yudanaka japan
    Japan Semi-Escorted Nature

    Great Trail of Japan

    Journey through Japan, taking in some of the most picturesque locations.

    View this package


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