HOME More Than Just the Castle! 10 Things to Do in Kanazawa!
More Than Just the Castle! 10 Things to Do in Kanazawa!

More Than Just the Castle! 10 Things to Do in Kanazawa!

Date published: 28 August 2020
Last updated: 9 October 2020

Kanazawa – an ancient Japanese city overflowing with antique buildings filled with memories of a by-gone age. The harmony that characterizes the Japanese spirit can be felt through its peaceful streets.

Kenroku-en Garden, one of the city’s most renowned attractions, reflects this perfectly. This, plus its vibrant gourmet culture and fascinating traditional art, has firmly cemented Kanazawa as a tourist staple within Japan.

Today we’ll be looking at 10 must-see spots in Kanazawa, as recommended by a local writer!

*Due to the impact of COVID-19, changes to business hours and temporary closures may occur.

Table of Contents
  1. 1. Kokoyui - Make Your Kanazawa Experience Even More Authentic with Kimono Rental!
  2. 2. Kenroku-en Garden – Appreciate the Beauty of Each Season!
  3. 3. Kanazawa Castle Park – Take a Stroll in an Ancient Castle District!
  4. 4. 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art – A Fascinating Interactive Gallery!
  5. 5.The Ninja Temple – Spot all the Hidden Tricks!
  6. 6. Stroll in the Geisha District and Visit Kaikaro!
  7. 7. Omicho Market – Help Yourself to a Mega-sized Kaisendon!
  8. 8. Gold Leaf Gourmet at Omicho Market
  9. 9. KIRARI – Fresh Kanazawa Sushi, Revolving Style!
  10. 10. Kanazawa Bikazari Asano – Complete Your Trip with Traditional Arts and Crafts!

1. Kokoyui - Make Your Kanazawa Experience Even More Authentic with Kimono Rental!

1. Kokoyui - Make Your Kanazawa Experience Even More Authentic with Kimono Rental!

You’ll often spot kimono-clad residents wandering the streets of Kanazawa. And not just Japanese – foreign tourists donning kimono are a common sight! Favorited by locals, Kimono Rental Shop Kokoyui is just 5-minutes on foot from Kanazawa Station. This is where we’ll start our trip!

You can rent a kimono to wear from their impressive range, including those using the ancient kaga yuzen dyeing method, antique kimonos from the Taisho and Showa periods, and luxurious silk kimonos!

For those with a larger stature, kimonos with lengths of up to 195cm are available – a rarity in Japan!

Don’t stress if you haven’t worn a kimono before - professional fitters will dress you! Just relax and enjoy! On hot days, summer kimonos and yukata are also available to rent!

  • Kimono Rental Shop Kokoyui
    着物レンタルshop 心結
    • Address 1-3-39, Honmachi, Kanazawa, Ishikawa 920-0853
    • Phone Number 076-221-7799
    • Hours: 9:00am - 6:00pm
      Cost: \4500 (plus tax)
      Closed: Check the calendar on their website
      URL: https://kokoyui.com/

2. Kenroku-en Garden – Appreciate the Beauty of Each Season!

2. Kenroku-en Garden – Appreciate the Beauty of Each Season!

One of the ‘Three Great Gardens of Japan,’ Kenroku-en teems with historical buildings, stunning ponds, and a collection of over 160 varieties of plant life. It’s no surprise that it takes around 90 minutes to properly explore the garden’s bountiful offerings. See if you can find the two stone lanterns, the Kotoji Tourou, which are the symbols of this magnificent paradise!

The cherry blossoms of spring, the fresh green leaves of summer, the magnificent colors of autumn, and the snowy scenery of winter. Kanazawa truly experiences the full force of each season!

Depending on your time of visit, the park may also be illuminated, creating an otherworldly spectacle! Each season has a different light-up period, and entry is free.

The stunning illuminated Kenroku-en. Jef Wodniack / Shutterstock.com
  • Kenroku-en
    兼六園
    • Address 1, Kenrokumachi, Kanazawa, Ishikawa 920-0936
    • Phone Number 076-234-3800
    • Hours:
      - 1 March – 15 October: 7:00am - 6:00pm
      - 16 October – end of February: 8:00am - 5:00pm
      Admission:
      - Adults (Over 18) \320
      - Children (6 to under 18) \100
      Closed: None (except Shigure-tei)
      URL: http://www.pref.ishikawa.jp/siro-niwa/kenrokuen/

3. Kanazawa Castle Park – Take a Stroll in an Ancient Castle District!

3. Kanazawa Castle Park – Take a Stroll in an Ancient Castle District!

Adjacent to Kenroku-en is Kanazawa Castle Park, which was once the site of the ruling Maeda Family’s castle. While a fire in 1759 destroyed much of the complex, the Ishikawa Gate, Sanjikken-Nagaya, and Tsurumaru Warehouse remain to this day. The Gojukken Nagaya, Kahoku Gate, and other areas have been restored, and their interior is open to the public. Spring time attracts thousands of sightseers looking to enjoy the blooming cherry blossoms, of which the park is abundant.

  • Kanazawa Castle Park
    金沢城公園
    • Address 1-1, Marunouchi, Kanazawa, Ishikawa 920-0937
    • Phone Number 076-234-3800
    • Hours:
      - March 1 – October 15: 7:00am - 6:00pm
      - October 16 – end of February: 8:00am - 5:00pm
      *Opening hours for Hishi Yagura, Gojukken Nagaya, Hashizume Gate Tsuzukiyagura, and Hashizume Gate are from 9:00am – 4:30pm (last entry 4:00pm)
      Admission: For Hishi Yagura, Gojukken Nagaya, Hashizume Gate Tsuzukiyagura, and Hashizume Gate
      - Adult (over 18): \320
      - Child (6 – under 18) \100
      Closed: None
      URL: http://www.pref.ishikawa.jp/siro-niwa/kanazawajou/

4. 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art – A Fascinating Interactive Gallery!

4. 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art – A Fascinating Interactive Gallery!
Michael Lin "Citizen's Gallery 2004.10.09-2005.03.21"

Crossing over the road at Kenroku-en’s Mayumi-zakaguchi exit will bring you to the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art. The art here is about the experience, rather than just passive ‘looking.’ This innovative concept has earned it a high status amongst the global art community. In addition to the Exhibition Zone, which requires a ticket, the ‘Exchange Zone’ is completely free.

Leandro Erlich "Swimming Pool" 2004 / 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa
Leandro Erlich "Swimming Pool" 2004 / 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa

In the ticketed zone is the famous ‘Swimming Pool;’ the museum’s most popular attraction. While at first glance a normal pool, there is a cleverly hidden room with a glass roof under the pool’s surface. This allows you to stand under the water and look up through the surface above. Seeing other attendants looking down at you through the water is a very surreal experience!

*The outside area of the ‘Swimming Pool’ is closed during bad weather.
*Due to the spread of COVID-19, the lower level of the ‘Swimming Pool’ is temporarily closed.
*Photography: Osamu Watanabe
*Additional photos provided by: 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art

  • 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa
    金沢21世紀美術館
    • Address 1-2-1 Hirosaka, Kanazawa, Ishikawa 920-8509
    • Phone Number 076-220-2800
    • Hours:
      - Exhibition Zone (requires a ticket) 10:00am - 6:00pm (Friday/Saturday until 8:00pm)
      *Tickets can be purchased from 9:30am until 30 minutes before closing
      - Exchange Zone (free) 9:00am – 7:00pm (Friday/Saturday until 9:00pm)
      Admission:
      - Exhibition Zone: Depends on exhibition (check website)
      - Exchange Zone: Free
      Closed:
      - Exhibition Zone: Mondays (if this lands on a public holiday, the following weekday will be closed instead), New Year’s Week
      - Exchange Zone: New Year’s Week
      URL: https://www.kanazawa21.jp/

5.The Ninja Temple – Spot all the Hidden Tricks!

5.The Ninja Temple – Spot all the Hidden Tricks!

Myouryuji, the so-called Ninja Temple, can be found in the historic Teramachi district. Despite its nickname, there are no ninjas to be found here! Instead, the building is filled with various pitfalls, hidden staircases, and secret passages designed to trick and scare intruders. Unfortunately, guidance is in Japanese only, however, there is a pamphlet with simple explanations in 11 languages you can read while taking the tour.

*Tour reservations require advanced telephone bookings (same-day booking is possible if an opening is available).
*Due to COVID-19, bookings can only be made on the day of visitation. Visitors must follow guidelines as set out by the government.
*Pre-schoolers (as per the Japanese system) are not allowed entry.
*Please wear a mask when visiting (visitors without masks will be refused entry).
*Your temperature will be checked upon entry. Those with body temperatures above 37.5°C will be refused.

  • Myouryuji Temple (Ninja Temple)
    妙立寺(忍者寺)
    • Address 1-2-12 Nomachi, Kanazawa, 921-8639
    • Phone Number 076-241-0888
    • Hours:
      - Weekdays: 9:00am - 4:00pm
      - Weekends and Public Holidays: 9:00am - 4:30pm (winter hours are the same as weekdays)
      Admission:
      - Adults (junior-high school and over): \1000
      - Elementary school: \700
      Closed: January 1 or during religious ceremonies
      (Call for more details)
      URL: http://www.myouryuji.or.jp/

6. Stroll in the Geisha District and Visit Kaikaro!

6. Stroll in the Geisha District and Visit Kaikaro!

Kanazawa is home to three unique ‘chaya’ tea house districts – Higashi, Nishi, and Kazuemachi. Dotted with traditional sliding lattice doors and paved walkways, you’ll feel like you’ve stepped back in time! Within these three, Higashi Chaya is the biggest and most complete, with a wide collection of tea houses, cafes, and shops to enjoy.

Visiting a tea house in Kanazawa is a must! Once a place where talented geisha performed music, danced, and entertained high-status samurai, these pieces of history still operate today and provide an authentic insight into Edo period customs. To preserve their special-standing, first-time customers are often refused.

This exclusivity can make cracking the surface of Kanazawa’s tea culture rather daunting! But fear not! While first-time customers are refused at night, at Tea House Kaikaro, all are welcome to visit during the day! With over 200 years of history, it is Kanazawa’s biggest tea house. From the vermillion-colored reception hall to the gold leaf-covered tea room, Kaikaro’s tasteful and refined elegance is an invaluable piece of the area’s unique ambiance. Don’t miss the first-floor café serving legendary ‘golden noodles!’

*Currently only open on weekends (business will slowly reopen step-by-step)

  • Kaikaro
    懐華樓
    • Address 1-14-8, Higashiyama, Kanazawa, Ishikawa 920-0831
    • Phone Number 076-253-0591
    • Hours: 10:00am - 5:00pm
      Admission:
      - Adults: \750
      - Elementary/Junior-high/high school: \500
      Closed: Irregular
      Business is currently open only on weekends
      URL: https://www.kaikaro.jp/

7. Omicho Market – Help Yourself to a Mega-sized Kaisendon!

7. Omicho Market – Help Yourself to a Mega-sized Kaisendon!
The Kaisen Enishi Donburi (with nodoguro fish and miso soup) \2680

Nicknamed the ‘Kitchen of Kanazawa,’ Omicho Market is the most direct way to relish all of Kanazawa’s seafood, vegetables, and other delicacies in their freshest and purest form! Restaurants serving gigantic kaisendons, a bowl of rice covered with sashimi, are found dotted throughout the market’s lanes. While there are guaranteed to be hefty lines of hungry fans outside the best of these restaurants, lining up is a small price to pay for a Kanazawa kaisendon!

Inside Omicho Market, the restaurant Sensai Enishi pours the goodness of Kanazawa’s bountiful ocean directly into their renowned ‘Kaisen Enishi Donburi.’ They also offer a dish of the high-class nodoguro fish along with other local unique specialties just waiting to be found!

*The ingredients in the Kaisen Enishi Donburi depend on availability.
*Prices are tax-inclusive.

  • Omicho Eatery Sensai Enishi
    近江町食処 鮮彩 えにし
    • Address Level 2, Omicho Ichiba-kan, Aokusamachi 88, Kanazawa, Ishikawa 920-0907
    • Phone Number 076-231-2211
    • Hours:
      - Lunch: 10:00am - 2:00pm (last order)
      - Dinner: 5:00am - 8:00pm (last order)
      Admission: None
      Closed: Wednesdays
      URL: https://enishioumicho.gorp.jp/

8. Gold Leaf Gourmet at Omicho Market

8. Gold Leaf Gourmet at Omicho Market
The Ichiban-boshi Gold Leaf Donburi (includes side-dish, soup, and traditional lacquer chopsticks) \3900

With 99% of the gold leaf produced in Japan being from Kanazawa, you’ll naturally come across dishes sprinkled or topped with its golden luster all throughout the city.

Once place where you can try this luxury is Ichiban-boshi, who serve a gold leaf donburi popular with foreign tourists. Overflowing with 8-9 different types of sashimi, including sea urchin, sweet shrimp, and yellowtail, the dish is topped off with a dazzling piece of gold leaf. Even the accompanying soup has gold floating inside! If you desire another of their menu items, the staff are happy to put a piece of gold leaf or sprinkling of gold dust on any dish of your choosing.

*Prices are tax-inclusive.
*Ingredients depend on availability.

  • Kanazawa Shimotsutsumicho Kaga-Noto Kaisendon Ichiban-boshi
    金沢 下堤町 加賀能登海鮮丼 一番星
    • Address Level 1, Tsutsumicho Building, Shimotsutsumicho 20, Kanazawa, Ishikawa 920-0917
    • Phone Number 076-255-1511
    • Hours: 9:00am - 6:00pm (winter: 9:00am - 5:00pm last order 4:30pm)
      Admission: None
      Closed: Irregular
      URL: https://1ban-bosi.com/

9. KIRARI – Fresh Kanazawa Sushi, Revolving Style!

9. KIRARI – Fresh Kanazawa Sushi, Revolving Style!
The Tuna Sushi Assortment (market price)

While often regarded as peddling to the masses, revolving sushi restaurants worthy of their city’s profound reputation can be found all throughout Kanazawa!

One of these, known as KIRARI, is next to the west exit of Kanazawa Station. What makes this establishment unique is that, in order to preserve the sushi’s freshness, their sushi train doesn’t actually revolve! There is instead a special lane for each piece to be sent to you as you order it. With pieces of the highest quality delivered fresh from places like Kanazawa and Himi Port, it’s as good as any high-end sushi counter!

A touch-screen with English, Chinese, and Korean language options allows you to easily order your sushi, which zooms to your seat on a mini Hokuriku bullet train. The menu has pictures, so you’ll have no trouble finding your favorites!!

Nodoguro Gold Leaf Sushi \1280

The Nodoguro Gold Leaf Sushi and Tuna Sushi Assortment are particularly popular with foreign travelers. If you’re unsure of what to order, we recommend trying the ‘5-piece Kaga Assortment,’ which provides a satisfying range.

*Prices are tax-inclusive
*Dishes marked ‘market price’ have fluctuating prices depending on the market.

  • Kanazawa Kaitenzushi KIRARI
    金沢回転寿司 輝らり
    • Address Level 1, Mast Square Kanazawa, 1-chome, 9-16, Hirooka, Kanazawa, Ishikawa 920-0031
    • Phone Number 076-223-5551
    • Hours:
      - Weekdays: 11:00am - 3:00pm (last order 2:30pm) 5:30pm - 11:00pm (last order 10:00pm)
      - Weekends and holidays: 11:00am - 11:00pm (last order 10:00pm)
      Admission: None
      Closed: Open daily
      URL: http://kanazawa-kirari.com/

10. Kanazawa Bikazari Asano – Complete Your Trip with Traditional Arts and Crafts!

10. Kanazawa Bikazari Asano – Complete Your Trip with Traditional Arts and Crafts!
Tumblers printed with age-old kaga yuzen techniques (\3200)

Traditional culture, art, and handicrafts from Edo Japan still thrive in Kanazawa. These age-old techniques create perfect souvenirs, allowing you to take home a genuine piece of Kanazawa’s history. Kanazawa Bikazari Asano, a shop that stocks and sells items from young artists, has a dazzling range of gorgeous handicrafts that will get your souvenir shopping rolling! These include eye-catching kaga yuzen prints, kutani porcelain, and adorable temari balls.

*Prices are tax-inclusive.

  • Kanazawa Bikazari Asano
    かなざわ 美かざり あさの
    • Address 1-chome, 8-3, Higashiyama, Kanazawa, Ishikawa 920-0831
    • Phone Number 076-251-8911
    • Hours:
      - Shop: 9:00am - 6:00pm
      - Workshop: 10:00am - 4:00pm
      (Currently operating under shorter hours)
      Admission: None
      Closed: January 1
      URL: https://kanazawa.hakuichi.co.jp/shop/kanazawa-asano.php

From the eyes of a Kanazawa native, you now know 10 local gems to add to your next Japan itinerary! A city teeming with history and samurai culture that continues to this very day, Kanazawa is one of the most authentic slices of Japan. Best yet, these recommend spots are all within a 2km radius, making it really easy to get around!

There’s nowhere better to experience the beauty and food of Japan than the ancient city of Kanazawa!

Article by Kana Tsuchiya

*This information is from the time of this article's publication.
*Prices and options mentioned are subject to change.
*Unless stated otherwise, all prices include tax.

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