One of the three most famous gardens in Japan
If this is your first visit to Kanazawa, you’ll want to take the high road of sightseeing without trying anything out of the ordinary. The first place I would like to visit is Kenrokuen Garden, one of the three most famous gardens in Japan. Kenroku-en is a circular garden with ponds and mountains in the garden, and there are many highlights hidden in the garden that you can’t miss. The fountain that is always spouting next to Kasumigaike Pond is said to be the oldest fountain in Japan and reaches a height of more than 3 meters. It is an eco-friendly fountain that makes use of nature.
There is a waterfall called Midoritaki Falls in the middle of the river that flows from Kasumigaike Pond into Hyouaike Pond, and the stream falling from a height of 6.6 meters makes a loud and magnificent sound. Hyou-ike Pond is said to have existed since the time Kenrokuen was built, and was so named because the pond is narrowed in the middle and looks like a gourd. The largest pond in Kenrokuen is Kasumigaike, and there are many photo spots around this pond. The two-legged lantern standing on the pond is the symbol of Kenrokuen Garden and is called Kotouji Lantern, which can be found only in Kenrokuen Garden in Japan.
The Karasaki pine tree is a large black pine tree, and the snow hanging to prevent its branches from breaking due to snow accumulation is a winter tradition. The viewing platform by the pond is a superb spot from which you can see not only Kenrokuen Garden but also the mountains in the distance. The Plum Garden, which was created by collecting plum trees from all over Japan, is filled with various kinds of plum trees that bloom in the spring, bringing with them a delicious fragrance. The garden is also famous for Kenrokuen Chrysanthemum Cherry Blossoms, a rare variety of cherry blossoms that bloom like chrysanthemums. There are many things to see in the garden, so be sure to take plenty of time to explore.
Kanazawa Castle Park
Partially restored ruins of the castle from 400 years ago
Kanazawa Castle was built over 400 years ago. Most of the buildings were destroyed by lightning and fire, but in recent years the turrets and other structures have been rebuilt. The ruins of Honmaru and Ninomaru have been developed into a park and a place for citizens to relax. Located next to Kenrokuen Garden and across the street from Kenrokuen Garden, Ishikawa Gate is the nearest entrance. Ishikawa Gate was rebuilt more than 200 years ago and is designated as an important cultural property. The gate is lit up at night, giving it a fantastic appearance. The long and narrow building that you will see as soon as you enter Kanazawa Castle Park is called Gojuken Nagaya.
This row house served as a warehouse for storing weapons. At the end of the fifty-room tenement is a rhombus-shaped turret, which is not seen anywhere else. Even the pillars are diamond-shaped, so it must have been very difficult to build. Gyokuseninmaru Garden was recently restored in 2015 and is a scenic garden with a bridge over a pond. It was named after Gyokusenin, the wife of an old feudal lord.
Ruins of the Ashigaru (foot soldiers) residence
The Naga-machi Bukeyashiki Ruins is a townscape that preserves Kanazawa’s old ways of life. This is a spot where you can feel as if you’ve stepped back in time several hundred years. The Ashigaru Museum, a relocated Ashigaru (foot soldier) residence, contains tools and other items believed to have been used by the Ashigaru in those days, giving visitors a glimpse into their daily lives. The Nagamachi is lined with beautifully colored earthen walls, and the narrow streets are just as they were in those days. Some of the mansions are open to the public, so come inside and enjoy the atmosphere of the old days. The Nomura family’s mansion is beautiful with landscape paintings on fusuma (sliding doors), but the most notable feature is the garden, where the greenery of the trees is reflected in the pond, making it unspeakably beautiful. No wonder there are so many tourists from overseas.
Streetscape reminiscent of Kyoto’s Gion
The Higashi Chaya-gai is a traditional street in the Higashiyama Higashi area. In the olden days, the castle town of Kanazawa was called the west area of the Saikawa River and the east area on the Asano side was called Higashi, where many teahouses were lined up and prospered greatly. The townscape is reminiscent of Gion in Kyoto and is worthy of being called Little Kyoto. The area has been designated as an Important Preservation District for Groups of Traditional Buildings, and efforts are being made to preserve the landscape into the future.
The existing Shima building in the teahouse district is a symbol of the area, and was a social gathering place where the culture of the time, such as the koto and the tea ceremony, flourished. Designated as a National Important Cultural Property, it is a valuable remnant of the teahouse style. In addition, there are shops that exhibit gold leaf, a traditional Kanazawa craft, and cafes and other restaurants, making it the perfect place to take a break.
You must be hungry by now after sightseeing in Kanazawa. The market boasts a history of nearly 300 years, and most of the shops are open from morning, making it very convenient. The market is open from morning, and you can find fish, produce, and other goods lined up in rows and rows, and the sound of lively voices echoing in the air. It is also the best place to buy souvenirs. Of course, there are also many restaurants and a variety of shops. However, you should definitely enjoy the fresh seafood from the Sea of Japan here. Let’s go to your favorite restaurant, such as a restaurant serving fresh fish or a sushi restaurant. We recommend you to try the nodoguro (sea bream) caught in the Sea of Japan, which is in season and has an unforgettable taste with a lot of fat. It is an irresistible dish.