Exploring Kanazawa: A Complete Travel Guide

Exploring Kanazawa: A Complete Travel Guide

Exploring Kanazawa: A Complete Travel Guide

Kanazawa is a beautiful city located in the Ishikawa Prefecture on the coast of the Sea of Japan. Known for its rich cultural heritage and stunning natural landscapes, Kanazawa offers a unique and immersive experience for travelers. From historic temples to flourishing gardens, here is a complete travel guide to help you make the most of your visit to Kanazawa.

Getting to Kanazawa

By Air:

If you are traveling from abroad, the easiest way to reach Kanazawa is by flying into Komatsu Airport, which is located just 30 minutes away by bus or train. Komatsu Airport is well-connected to major cities in Japan and offers domestic as well as some international flights.

By Train:

Kanazawa is also easily accessible by train. The city is a major stop on the Hokuriku Shinkansen line, which connects it to Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka. The journey from Tokyo to Kanazawa takes around 2.5 hours by bullet train, making it a convenient option for travelers.

Exploring Kanazawa's Highlights

Kanazawa Castle:

A visit to Kanazawa would not be complete without exploring the magnificent Kanazawa Castle. Originally built in the 16th century, the castle was largely destroyed by fire and rebuilt several times. Today, it stands as a symbol of the city's feudal past and offers breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape. Don't miss the beautiful gardens within the castle grounds, which are especially picturesque during cherry blossom season.

Kenroku-en Garden:

Considered one of Japan's most beautiful gardens, Kenroku-en is a must-visit attraction in Kanazawa. Spanning over 25 acres, the garden features meticulously landscaped ponds, walking paths, and seasonal flowers. Whether you visit during spring when the cherry blossoms bloom or in autumn when the leaves change color, Kenroku-en offers a tranquil escape from the city's hustle and bustle.

Higashi Chaya District:

Step back in time by exploring the Higashi Chaya District, a historic geisha district in Kanazawa. Wander through the narrow streets lined with traditional teahouses, known as chaya, and get a glimpse into the traditional entertainment culture of Japan. Some of the teahouses are open to the public, allowing you to experience the art of tea and traditional performances firsthand.

Ninja Temple (Myoryu-ji):

Uncover the secrets of the Ninja Temple, also known as Myoryu-ji. Despite its name, this temple has very little to do with ninjas, but it earned its nickname due to its unique architectural features designed for defensive purposes. Explore the hidden rooms, trap doors, and secret passages that were once used as a refuge and a stronghold. Guided tours are available to fully appreciate the temple's fascinating history.

21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art:

For art enthusiasts, a visit to the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art is a must. This avant-garde museum showcases a diverse collection of contemporary art from both Japanese and international artists. The museum's unique circular design and transparent glass walls allow natural light to illuminate the artworks, creating a visually stunning experience.

Cuisine in Kanazawa

Kanazawa is renowned for its rich culinary tradition, and no visit would be complete without sampling some of the city's local delicacies.

Kaiseki Ryori:

Indulge in the ultimate dining experience by trying Kaiseki Ryori, a traditional multi-course meal that highlights the season's finest ingredients. Each dish is carefully crafted and beautifully presented, reflecting the harmony between taste and aesthetics. Kanazawa is known for its seafood, so expect an array of fresh, flavorsome dishes that will leave you wanting more.


Being a coastal city, Kanazawa boasts an abundance of seafood, making it the perfect place to savor sushi at its best. From seasoned local chefs to Michelin-starred dining establishments, there are plenty of options to satisfy your sushi cravings. Be sure to try Kanazawa's local specialties, such as glistening Hokkaido uni (sea urchin), which is considered a delicacy.

Gold Leaf Ice Cream:

Kanazawa is famous for its gold leaf production, and one delicious way to experience it is through gold leaf ice cream. Indulge in a creamy scoop of ice cream covered with a delicate layer of gold leaf, creating a visually stunning treat. Pick from a variety of flavors and enjoy this unique Kanazawa delight.

Day Trips from Kanazawa


Embark on a day trip to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Shirakawa-go. Located in the neighboring Gifu Prefecture, this traditional village is renowned for its well-preserved gassho-zukuri houses, which have steep thatched roofs. Explore the narrow streets lined with these unique architectural wonders and learn about the rural way of life in Japan.

Wakura Onsen:

For a relaxing getaway, head to Wakura Onsen, a hot spring resort located along the Noto Peninsula. Soak in the therapeutic waters and enjoy the serene natural surroundings. Wakura Onsen also offers stunning coastal views, making it a perfect destination for nature enthusiasts.

Where to Stay

Kanazawa offers a variety of accommodation options to suit different budgets and preferences. From luxurious ryokans (traditional Japanese inns) to modern hotels, there is something for everyone.

Higashi Chaya District:

For a truly immersive experience, consider staying in the Higashi Chaya District. There are several ryokans in this area that offer traditional Japanese-style rooms with tatami flooring and futon beds. Wake up to the charm of the geisha district and enjoy the tranquility of this historical neighborhood.


Located in the heart of Kanazawa, Katamachi is a bustling district with a mix of shops, restaurants, and nightlife. This area offers a range of accommodation options, including budget-friendly hotels and guesthouses. Being centrally located, Katamachi is a convenient base for exploring the city's attractions.

Kanazawa Station Area:

If convenience is your top priority, consider staying near Kanazawa Station. This area is well-connected to public transportation and offers a variety of hotels, ranging from mid-range to luxury. It's an ideal location for those planning to explore both Kanazawa and nearby cities.


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