One Perfect Day in Kanazawa

One Perfect Day in Kanazawa

Kanazawa seemed like a bit of a mystery to me. The tourists I met up until then hadn’t heard of it, but it was raved about it Japan guide books and blogs. It was on my route around Japan, just before I hit Takayama, so I decided to give it a go despite my lack of knowledge.

One day is perfect for seeing the best of Kanazawa. It may be a packed day, but the Kanazawa bus system makes everything a million times easier by passing all the biggest tourist spots in the city. This is how I spent my day in this fascinating city.

Omicho Market

Fish at Omicho Market, Kanazawa


My day didn’t get off to the most inspiring start when the bus made it’s first stop at Omicho Market. The market draws favourable comparisons with Tsukiji Market in Tokyo but I guess, as a vegetarian, dead sea creatures just aren’t really my thing. Upstairs there are eateries specialising in sushi and fresh seafood but I can’t say I lingered long here. I did manage to get a few snaps of some weird marine life though.


Namagachi (Samurai) district

Garden in Samurai District, Kanazawa
The samurai: warriors, swordsmen, gardeners.


The Namagachi district was home to the samurai lords and their families; in fact, many of the families descendants still live here. The Nomura house, which is now a museum, displays artifacts and exhibits the lifestyle the samurai would have once led. There are some pretty sick samurai swords here. Apart from the restored houses and gardens which litter the district, the whole are itself is really pretty, with lots of little alleyways and canals dotted around.


Myoruji (Ninja) Temple

Ninja Temple, Kanazawa
Japanese temples, a places of peace, tranquility and trap doors with spikes underneath.


Definitely my highlight of Kanazawa, and possibly my favourite temple in all of Japan, the Myoruji temple is a labyrinth of secret stairways, trap doors, hidden passages, and booby traps. No ninjas actually resided here; though it wasn’t ever said explicitly, I’m guessing the name came from the fact that this is an especially sneaky temple, like a ninja. I was unbelievably lucky to get in, as I hadn’t booked in advance which you absolutely should do (I ended up making friends with a Japanese businessman who sweet talked the guides for me). The only downfall of this place is that no English tour guides are offered – instead, English speakers receive a guide book which they can follow as the tour progresses. It didn’t bother me, but I could see some other tourists losing their place.


Kenrokuen Garden

Kenrokuen Garden, Kanazawa
One of the top three gardens in Japan. Definitely imagining some kind of Top 100 Garden chart show.


The Kenrokuen Garden is one of Kanazawa’s most famous sights, and reputedly one of the three most beautiful gardens in the entire country. And it is lovely. With its waterfalls, stepping stones, huge pine trees, ponds and stone lanterns, Kenrokuen Garden is exactly what you imagine when you think of Japanese gardens. It was a little crowded by the time I got here (just after lunch), so I reckon the earlier the better if you want to get some good photos. Although I didn’t get round to visiting, Kanazawa Castle is just a short walk across the road.


Higashichaya Old Town (Geisha District)

Geisha District, Kanazawa
What it lacks in geishas, it makes up for in teahouses.


Kanazawa is often compared to Kyoto, and the prevalence of geisha and preserved tea houses were very reminiscent of the Gion district there. The geisha district now caters mainly to tourists, with many tea shops, gold leaf shops and little restaurants lining the cobbled streets, and yet it’s still possible to get a sense for what the area was like 100 years ago. If you’re lucky you might see a geisha, which is always an exciting and odd experience (I’m still not entirely sure what they do).

Download a map of Kanazawa and the tourist bus route

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4 responses to “One Perfect Day in Kanazawa”

  1. Hi! I am traveling to Japan and I would love some recommendations on what see and do! 🙂

    A little background; a little over fifteen years ago when my father was asked to lecture at the University of Tokyo, I went with him and we stayed for ten weeks in Meguro Station. We visited Akihabara, buddhist temples, took a train out into the country side, and I joined him on some of his business trips. We made sure to eat at all different kinds of sushi restaurants, noodle shops and the like. I was young; about seven or eight years old. Now I am twenty-five, and I am so very lucky and excited to have the opportunity to return to Japan. My birthday is coming up, so my mom is going to take my girlfriend and I to Japan in late January or early February. We have not bought the tickets yet, as my girlfriend’s passport is not due to arrive in the mail until mis January at the latest. My job is flexible, as is my girlfriend’s. We play on staying as long as we can, up to three weeks. My mom might only be able to get two weeks away from her job, and she said she would be okay with buying us different plane tickets, so that we could stay longer by ourselves after she leaves.

    Our plan as of now is to fly in to Hokkaido or near there and visit the Sopporo Snow Festival, for a few days, and hopefully visit a natural hot spring bathhouse and then travel by train to Tokyo for the remainder of the trip. I would also like to see Kyoto, which we will certainly have time for.

    I would love to see a bamboo forest, Kinkaku-ji Temple, the Samurai armor in the National Museum, Tokyo, and have a massage and bathe in a traditional Ryokan.

    My hope is that someone reading this will suggest fun things for us to do while in Japan. We can alter our plans, as there is plenty of time until we leave.

    So please, share with me your favorite things to do when visiting Tokyo, Kyoto, Hokkaido and any other part of Japan!

    Arigato gozaimasu!

    • Hi there! Apologies for taking so long to reply to this. Are you in Japan yet?

      My schedule in Japan went roughly like this:

      Tokyo – 4 nights
      Kyoto – 4 nights (including a day trip to Nara)
      Hiroshima – 1 night
      Kanazawa – 2 nights
      Takayama – 2 nights
      Tokyo – 1 night (day trip to Nikko)

      Out of all of those, I’d really recommend Kyoto. It blew me away. And Nara was a lovely little town, with loads of deer and a huge wooden temple. Tokyo is also one of my favourite cities of all time, it’s just got everything. Never made it up to Sapporo but heard great things. All the best of luck with your travels!