During ancient times, Kanazawa used to be an important city in Japan. Sadly today, many people skip this beautiful place, which is the capital of the Ishikawa Prefecture. In the following you can find the best things to do in Kanazawa and great points of interest that you can add to your Kanazawa Itinerary. Of course we will include more Kanazawa attractions that just the Kanazawa Castle and the Kenrokuen Garden.
What to find out in this post
- 1 Kanazawa Facts
- 2 How to get to Kanazawa
- 3 Where to stay in Kanazawa
- 4 Things to do in Kanazawa – Itinerary
- 5 Nagamachi Samurai District
- 6 Kanazawa Castle Park
- 7 Kenrokuen Garden Kanazawa
- 8 Kanazawa Castle
- 9 The Geisha Districts in Kanazawa
- 10 The Kanazawa Hyakumangoku Matsuri Festival
- 11 Okonomiyaki
- 12 Personal experience in Kanazawa
- 13 Our Hosts
- Used to be Japan 2nd biggest city (after Kyoto) during World War II
- Is located about 150 km North of Nagoya
- Modern City of Kanazawa was created in 1889
- literally translated, the name means Marsh of gold
How to get to Kanazawa
From Takayama to Kanazawa
Duration: Around 2 Hours
Price: About 3400 Yen (ca. 25€/ $30) Cheaper with Japan Rail Pass (Click here to see the offer)
The buses between Takayama and Kanazawa are leaving several times a day. Make sure to make a stop-over in the beautiful traditional town Shirakawago (Read about Shirakawago here). You can as well to the Shirakawago tour as a day trip from Kanazawa or go from Kanazawa to Takayama. (You can check the best Ryokan in Takayama here.)
From Osaka to Kanazawa
Duration: 2 Hours 40 Minutes by train / 5 hours 35 minutes by bus
Price: 7.130 Yen (ca. €/$) by train / 3.700 Yen – 5.000 Yen (ca. €/$)
From Osaka or Kyoto to Kanazawa, you can choose to go either by train or by bus. The train is much faster and included in the Japan Rail Pass while the Bus is a lot cheaper. Both options leave several times a day from Osaka.
Where to stay in Kanazawa
Best Budget Accommodation in Kanazawa
This 2-Star accommodation featuring a terrace is great for budget travelers. You can choose between Capsule beds and Private Rooms. It’s very close to Kanazawa Castle.
Best Middle-Range accommodation in Kanazawa
This 2-Star Hotel is located just 15 Minutes walking from the Kanazawa Station. Each private room comes with AC, seating area, flat-screen TV, hairdryer, electric kettle, refridgerator and desk as well as a private bathroom.
Best luxury accommodation in Kanazawa
This 4-Star Hotel comes with panoramic views, 8 dining options and shops and is located right in front of the JR train station. All rooms comes with private bathroom, flatscreen TV, bathtube, shower, hairdryer and Yukata robe option.
Things to do in Kanazawa – Itinerary
Nagamachi Samurai District
Where? Near Korinbo Bus Station
Firstly, there is the old Samurai District. You can find Museums and even restored Sumarai Residences, which show you how life was like back in the Samurai time. Many of the facilities have an entrance fee though. (Between 100 – 550 Yen (ca. $ 0,80 – $ 4,40) But you will also find some houses that you can visit for free.
Kanazawa Castle Park
Opening Hours Kanazawa Castle Park: 7 am – 6 pm (October – February: 8 am – 5 pm)
Entrance Fee: free of charge
After seeing the Sumarai Area, you can have a nice walk through the beautiful castle park. The park is located next to the castle (what a surprise!). A visit is highly recommended as it is perfect for taking walks and enjoy the nature of the big city of Kanazawa.
Kenrokuen Garden Kanazawa
Opening Hours Kenrokuen Garden: 7 am – 6 pm (October – February: 8 am – 5 pm)
Entrance Fee: 310 Yen (ca. 2,50 € / $ 2,75)
On the other side of the castle, you can find this amazing Garden, which is known to be one of the three Perfect Gardens in Japan.
Inside of the Garden, you can find a big pond, that even has its own little island. We were totally impressed by the beauty of this traditional Japanese Garden.
Opening Time: 7 am – 6 pm (October – February: 8 am – 5 pm)
Entrance Fee: 310 Yen (ca. 2,50 € / $ 2,75)
Inside of the Kenrokuen Garden, you can find the Kanazawa Castle. Impressive from the outside, the inside actually disappointed us a little, to be honest.
Inside of the castle were really few exhibits and information displayed so that the wooden corridors of the castle looked pretty empty. After seeing the castle of Matsumoto, I guess we had higher expectations.
However, from the outside you can see the castle beautifully and free of charge 😉
The Geisha Districts in Kanazawa
Where? Higashi Chaya-Gai District, Nishi Chaya-Gai District & Kazue Machi-District
Another attraction of Kanazawa are the three Geisha Districts. While in all of them you have a chance to meet real Geishas they offer different experiences for their visitors. In the Higashi-Chaya area, for instance, you can find many traditional Japanese Tea-Houses. In the Nishi Chaya-Gai District, however, you there are many luxury Japanese restaurants located. (Ryotei)
The Kanazawa Hyakumangoku Matsuri Festival
When: On the first Saturday in June (since 2007)
The most popular part of the Hyakumangoku Matsuri in Kanazawa is the Hyakumangoku Parade through the whole city center. It lasts for around two hours. This parade represents the entrance of Lord Maeda Toshiie and his following into Kanazawa.
Many people are joining this popular parade. Besides several clubs, you can listen to a lot of music, see Geishas and even Samurais. Furthermore, some of the clubs give little presentations of their skills, so you can enjoy some traditional dances, arts and similar things along those lines. It will even make you forget how cold Kanazawa can be at this time of the year while sitting on the street for two hours 😉
After the official parade is over, there are more and more people joining in the city center. Especially, in front of the main station, there is a lot going on. Everyone dances, sings and walks together through the streets of Kanazawa.
The second night, we decided to go out together and have some Okonomiyaki. I can just highly recommend you to try this amazing dish if you get the chance.
In the middle of the table there is a plate similar to a Barbecue. The original Okonomiyaki is from Osaka by the way. I would maybe describe it as a kind of grilled omelette.
Besides the Osaka version, you can also find the Tokyo- and Hiroshima Style. We had the chance to try all three kinds of them in Kanazawa. How lucky we were! 🙂
The Tokyo Style is mostly veggies and cheese. This one was my favorite. Eduardo was more into the Hiroshima version. Which was served with noodles and seafood.
But all in all, all three kinds of Okonomiyaki are totally recommended by us.
Personal experience in Kanazawa
After arriving in Kanazawa, we first had to realize that it was clearly colder than in the other areas of Japan that we have visited before. (In avaerage, around 2 °C colder than Tokyo)
Moreover, the rain lasted for the whole afternoon with small breaks in between. When the rain got too strong we flew into one of the dozen convenience stores that dominate Japan’s streets. And we got some Matcha Latte. Yummy. I can just highly recommend you to try this delicious popular drink when you visit Japan.
When the rain subsided a little, we could finally keep on walking. After some kilometers with our heavy backpacks, we decided to take a train from the nearest train station to our host’s place.
If you have some of my other Japan posts, you might have realized that we couchsurfed a lot throughout Japan. Therefore, we also stayed in Kanazawa with a super cute little family.
The parents are around Eduardo’s age. But the actual center of attention clearly was Sara, the three year old daughter.
Even though, she might have said hi for the first time while shyly hiding behind her mom, but some hours later she introduced us to every single toy in her room. (and trust me, there were a lot!)
So we spent some hours with her playing with every single toy she owns, building towers and having a lot of fun until she fell asleep next to her Mickey Mouse Teddy.
Funny how children don’t care whether you can speak their language, don’t you think?
Anyway, the true sunshine of the family was definitely the mom. She was smiling without a break. Although, we could mostly just communicate through her translator app, we had a great time together. And they helped us a lot by giving us many information and recommendations for our tour through Kanazawa.
We could even have dinner and breakfast with them and they helped us washing our laundry. I can just repeat myself by recommending Couchsurfing to everyone as you can meet so many amazing people out there and get totally new experiences in the country you travel to.