Traditional charm meets contemporary cool
Kanazawa, the capital of Ishikawa, is a vibrant, historical city, with convenient access from Tokyo, Osaka, and Kyoto. Its attractions include Kenrokuen Garden, the Nagamachi samurai district and several geisha areas including the Higashi-Chaya district. With rich craft traditions, distinctive local cuisine, traditional architecture and cutting-edge contemporary art, Kanazawa is a must-visit destination.
A city of riches
Kanazawa was the center of the Kaga domain during the Edo period (1603–1867). The city was the seat of power of the ruling Maeda family, among the richest lords in Japan. The Maeda family built lavishly around Kanazawa, including Kenrokuen Garden and Kanazawa Castle. A short stroll away is the picturesque Nagamachi samurai district, where some of the Maedas’ retainers lived.
The Maeda family sponsored a great number of craftspeople, encouraging various art forms to flourish. These crafts include Kaga-yuzen, a silk dyeing technique used on kimono, and Ohi ware, austere tea ceremony bowls. Kanazawa produces 99 percent of Japan’s gold leaf, a craft that has been honed here for centuries. This impossibly thin material graces the surface of art and utensils, as well as food and cosmetics.
Contemporary art and architecture
Kanazawa’s modern side blends seamlessly with its heritage. The 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art houses rotating exhibitions by world-renowned Japanese and international artists. The Tsuzumimon Gate in front of Kanazawa Station blends current architecture with traditional inspiration and has become a modern symbol of the city. The entertainment districts of Katamachi and Korinbo offer ample opportunities for shopping, dining, and nightlife.
21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa
Forward-thinking contemporary art museum showcasing artists from Japan and abroad
Kanazawa is easily accessible from most major cities in Japan. The bullet train from Tokyo and limited express trains from Osaka, Kyoto, and Nagoya each take 2–3 hours. Daytime and overnight buses also connect Kanazawa with other cities on Honshu (Japan’s main island), as well as popular tourist destinations such as Shirakawa-go and Hida-Takayama.
There are domestic and international flights to Komatsu Airport, which is about 40 minutes by bus from central Kanazawa.
The area’s extensive bus network makes exploring the city easy. The Hokutetsu One Day Pass offers visitors savings on the Kenrokuen Shuttle and Kanazawa Loop Bus routes, which cover the main sightseeing routes from Kanazawa Station. Hokutetsu Railway runs to some points in the immediate area, including the beach town of Uchinada.
A bicycle rental service called Machi-Nori is available around Kanazawa.