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TokyoTreat Japanese Snacks BlogKanazawa City: Five Great Places to Visit!

Kanazawa City: Five Great Places to Visit!

Thuy FangThuy Fang
Published Time
Posted on 
April 17, 2024
Tsuzumimon Gate outside of Kanazawa Station in Kanazawa City.

Kanazawa City is the capital of Ishikawa Prefecture and holds a lot of historical significance as the former stronghold of Japan’s second-largest clan, Maeda. But that’s not all! It’s also a place where tradition meets modernity, with lots of amazing places to explore that attract tourists from both near and far. So, let’s dive into this stunning city’s top five must-visit spots!

Ninjadera

Ninjadera, also known as Myoryuji Temple, offers an exciting journey into history with its deceptive defenses and captivating features. During the Edo Period, the Maeda lords constructed Ninjadera as a temple and secret fort. It cleverly served as both, equipped with tricky defenses to protect against possible attacks due to strict building regulations in the region.

Ninjadera (aka Myoryuji Temple) in Kanazawa City.
This temple has many hidden mechanisms to fend off invaders. Image via Shutterstock

Situated in the Teramachi District, Ninjadera is a testament to strategic architecture. Its layout, including hidden tunnels, secret chambers, and trapdoors, served to confuse and deter intruders. Visitors can explore these marvels in more detail through guided tours.

The temple looks simple on the outside, but it’s hiding secrets! It seems like a two-story building, but inside, there are four floors, 23 rooms, and 29 staircases, making it a mysterious maze. It’s also said that secret tunnels lead to Kanazawa Castle. That might be why it’s perfectly reasonable to call it the Ninja Temple of Kanazawa City.

Chaya Districts 

The Chaya districts, or teahouse districts, are charming places in Kanazawa City known for their traditional wooden buildings and historical significance. In the past, they were unique places where geisha and traditional entertainers once captivated wealthy guests with dance, melody, and classic games. Three districts are considered the most prominent.

First up is Higashi Chayagai, or the Eastern Teahouse District, established in 1820 as an entertainment spot for the rich and noble. It’s considered the largest and most iconic Chaya district in the area. While some of these buildings have been transformed into cafes and souvenir shops, two geisha teahouses remain open during the day.

Two maiko (apprentice geishas) walking through a Chaya District in Kanazawa City.
Kanazawa City is home to some of the most well-preserved geisha districts in the country. Image via Shutterstock

Next, we have Nishi Chayagai (Western Teahouse District), a compact area known for its traditional wooden teahouses lining the main street. Built alongside Higashi Chayagai in 1820, this district offers a quieter atmosphere. You’ll also find Nishi Chaya Shiryokan, where visitors can learn about its history. 

Finally, Kazuemachi is a small and lovely location beside the Asano River. Plus, it’s very famous for its picturesque streets. Even though smaller than the other two Chaya districts, it’s just as delightful with authentic tea houses, hidden geiko stables, and intriguing architecture.

21st Century Museum

This modern art museum opened in 2004 and was designed by two renowned Japanese architects, Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa. The museum’s unique circular structure, with a diameter of 112.5 meters, stands out in the heart of Kanazawa City. Its design aims to integrate seamlessly with the surrounding environment, making it easy for people to get in from different directions. It has transparent walls so that people inside can see the city outside.

The museum has community spaces and exhibition areas inside. Around the exterior, visitors will find a library, lecture hall, and children’s workshop. The central space contains galleries of different sizes and lighting.

People in an illuminated display at the 21st Century Museum.
This is a contemporary art museum not too far from Kenrokuen. Image via Shutterstock

Moreover, the collection emphasizes contemporary art from 1980 onwards. It highlights works that challenge traditional values and engage with Kanazawa. Notable pieces include Leandro Erlich’s “Swimming Pool” and James Turrell’s “Blue Planet Sky.” These pieces offer unique experiences, like stepping into other worlds.

Furthermore, there are new exhibitions every few months featuring local and foreign artists and presenting various ideas. Outside, there are even more things to check out, and you can chill on the grass, too.

Are you looking for some fantastic snacks while visiting places like Kanazawa City? Check out TokyoTreat! TokyoTreat delivers limited-edition Japanese noodles, snacks, drinks, and sweets right to your door so you can enjoy the latest treats directly from Japan!

Kenrokuen

Kenrokuen is among the top three beautiful gardens in Japan. Initially serving as the outer part of Kanazawa Castle, it has been meticulously crafted and refined by the Maeda clan for almost two centuries. Its name means “garden of the six sublimities,” highlighting its vastness, peacefulness, and other distinctive features.

Kenrokuen, a park garden on a clear day.
This is a strolling garden, originally built in the Edo period. Image via Shutterstock

In spring, pretty plum and cherry blossoms show up in the garden. Then, summer makes everything lush and green. Moreover, autumn’s arrival also brings colorful leaves while winter transforms the garden into a snowy wonderland with iconic Karasaki pine trees.

Kenrokuen is a perfect spot for a leisurely walk, with beautiful views everywhere you look. There are also little tea houses where you can enjoy tea and snacks while admiring the natural beauty.

Omicho Market

Omicho Market has been a vibrant fresh food hub in Kanazawa since the Edo Period, over 300 years ago. It’s a lively maze of covered streets with around 200 shops and stalls. While seafood, veggies, and fruits are the main attractions, you can also find sake, flowers, tools, accessories, and more as you wander through this interesting ichiba (market).

People shopping for lobster at Omicho Market in Kanazawa City.
This is a popular fresh food market in the middle of the city! Image via Shutterstock

In Omicho Market, fishmongers sell a variety of seafood from the Sea of Japan. They offer yellowtail amberjack, crabs, and shrimp. Don’t miss out on the market’s specialties. Try sweet wakame seaweed and fresh oysters, prepared in many ways.

During the morning, Omicho Market is at its liveliest, with locals and tourists browsing the stalls for the freshest catches and seasonal items. Around lunchtime, people head to the market’s restaurants to taste Kanazawa’s famous rice bowls with fresh seafood. You might have to wait in line to get a bowl!

Why should I go sightseeing in Kanazawa City?

Well, it’s packed with history and many exciting sights to see! From the Ninja Temple to the traditional teahouse districts and from the modern art museum to the breathtaking garden, there’s a lot to experience. And remember the lively Omicho Market for some fresh and tasty treats! What are you most excited to see in Kanazawa City? Let me know in the comments below!

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