The name Kanazawa, which literally means marsh of gold, is said to be originated from a legend that the peasant Imohori Togoro was digging for potatoes when flakes of gold washed up. It is now the capital city of Ishikawa Prefecture, best-known for its historical attractions, modern museums, and Kenrokuen—one of Japan’s three best landscape gardens.

Group Attractions

  • Attractions
  • Dining
  • Experience
  • Omiyage

Kenrokuen Garden

Considered one of Japan’s three most beautiful gardens, Kenrokuen Garden is a must-visit. The name Kenrokuen means “having six factors”, representing the attributes that bring out the garden’s stunning beauty: spaciousness, tranquillity, artifice, antiquity, water sources and magnificent views. The grounds are teeming with water features, bridges, teahouses, trees, flowers, stones, viewpoints and hidden nooks to discover. Kenrokuen features a variety of flowering trees which provide the garden with a different look for each season.

Activities: Garden visit, Stroll around Fee: JPY 320 Time required: 30 minutes-1 hour

Higashi Chaya District

Higashi Chaya is one of Kanazawa’s largest geisha districts where traditionally geishas entertained wealthy nobility and rich merchants. The geisha houses in Higashi Chaya have a stunning traditional appearance. Two chaya, the Shima Teahouse and Kaikaro Teahouse are open to the public. Other buildings along the central street now house cafes and shops. One of the shops, Hakuza, sells gold leaf products, a speciality of Kanazawa, and displays a tea ceremony room which is completely covered in gold leaf.

Activities: Stroll around, Photo stop Fee: JPY 500-JPY 750 (teahouse) Time required: 1 hour

21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art

Opened in 2004, the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art in Kanazawa stands out compared to more traditional art museums thanks to its captivating disc-like design. The museum exhibits experimental contemporary art of acclaimed contemporary artists from Japan and all over the world that visitors can touch or sit on and is perfect for children and adults alike. Highlights include Leandro Erlich's The Swimming Pool, which enables visitors to feel as if they’re standing at the bottom of a swimming pool, and a wall decorated with flowers gathered from the suburbs of Kanazawa. (Image via Visit Kanazawa)

Activities: Museum visit, Photo stop Fee: Varies by exhibition Time required: 40 minutes-1 hour

Nagamachi Samurai District

Nagamachi is a stunningly preserved samurai district in the centre of Kanazawa, at the foot of the former Kanazawa Castle, where samurai and their families used to reside. Many of these residences maintain their original earthen walls which are still covered in the winter with straw mats to protect them from frost and subsequent cracking. A walk through Nagamachi, where an Edo-period atmosphere still lingers, offers a glimpse into the heritage of Kanazawa and Japan.

Activities: Stroll around, Photo stop Fee: None Time required: 40 minutes-1 hour

Kanazawa Castle Park

Once the home of the Maeda family, who governed the Kaga Domain – present-day Ishikawa and Toyama – for over 280 years, Kanazawa Castle is one of the city’s key historic landmarks. Many features of the castle have been destroyed over its long history – including the original castle tower. Many of them have been rebuilt and the castle grounds is a great place to enjoy Japan’s famous cherry blossoms. (Image via Visit Kanazawa)


Activities: Stroll around, Photo stop Fee: None Time required: 40 minutes-1 hour

Omicho Market

Omicho Market is Kanazawa’s largest fresh food market. The sprawling market features more than 170 stores, including a large number of fishmongers that sell freshly caught seafood from the Sea of Japan. There are also fruit and vegetable stores that sell unique local produce, marine product stores, clothing stores, grocery stores and restaurants. Particularly well-revered are the crab, yellowtail and shrimp.

Activities: Stroll around, Shopping Fee: None Time required: 45 minutes-1 hour

Nearby Areas

Myoryuji Temple (Ninjadera) was built by the Maeda lords as a prayer place. Later, in preparation for an emergency attack of the central government (Tokugawa Shogunate), the Maeda family added a variety of mechanisms and deceptive defences, such as hidden tunnels, secret rooms, traps, and a labyrinth of corridors and staircases. That is why this temple is also called Ninja Temple. (Image via Visit Kanazawa)

Seisonkaku is a villa that the 13th lord of the Maeda family built for his mother in Kenrokuen Garden in 1863. Fine techniques in a wide variety are used for the inner pillars and walls of Seisonkaku. Seisonkaku exhibits articles with a long and distinguished history, such as dolls for the Japanese Girls’ Festival and furniture. (Image via Visit Kanazawa)

The D.T. Suzuki Museum is a small museum commemorating the life and works of Suzuki Daisetz Teitaro (1870-1966), one of Japan’s most famous Buddhist philosophers. His essays and teaching were incredibly influential in spreading Buddhist philosophy to the West and in 1963 he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. In addition to containing many exhibits relating to the life of D.T. Suzuki, the museum also serves as a place of reflection for visitors as they contemplate his teachings. (Image via Visit Kanazawa)

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