Cultural hub that seamlessly blends traditional and modern
Kanazawa, the capital of Ishikawa, continues to be one of the most vibrant, historically significant cities in Japan. Its attractions include atmospheric samurai quarters and teahouse districts, rich craft traditions, and distinctive local cuisine. The city’s transportation links make it easy to access from most parts of the country.
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.
Old meets new
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.