Kanazawa, also known as ‘little Kyoto’, located on the mid west coast of Japan is probably best known as the home of Kenrokuen, the garden with that lamp you see in the tourism pictures. As recently as two years ago, it became the last stop on the new Hokuriku Shinkansen line making it accessible within just a couple of hours from Tokyo and so perfect for a weekend trip!
So, what to see on your visit to Kanazawa?
Here are the 5 big attractions in the city itself that I would recommend for a first time visitor.
The most famous attraction of the city and for good reason, it is known as one of the 3 most beautiful gardens in Japan. A stroll here is a must to appreciate the beauty of the garden in every season and the incredible effort that goes into maintaining such perfection! I am always intrigued seeing gardeners painstakingly pluck out pine needles with tweezers.
Vibrant and bustling with all sorts of fruits, vegetables, fish and pickles, this makes for an interesting stroll on your way to Kenrokuen or the art museum. There are also stalls selling gold leaf covered treats including impressive looking soft cream.
21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art
If you’ve had your fill of gardens and traditional streets, head for the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art. With installations by Turrell and Erlich's intriguing swimming pool it’s a great way to spend a couple of hours. The area outside the museum is a wide open, grassed space perfect for kids to run around and explore the open air installations too.
Higashi Chaya district
This is no doubt where the ‘lttle Kyoto’ title originated. Stroll through beautiful traditional streets of wooden lined geisha houses in the same fashion as Gion. There are opportunities to see Geisha culture and more information is available here. This is also a good area to see gold leaf artisans at work
Myoryu-ji or Ninja Temple
Also known as Ninja Temple (but actually completely unrelated to any real ninja), Myoryu-ji is a fascinating maze of ninja-like passages, trap doors, spy holes and escape routes made all the more interesting in my opinion by the fact that these were actually used! Visitors are required to take an official tour which is in Japanese however some English materials are available. Tours can be booked by phone so perhaps get your accommodation to help you out with the Japanese, or you can go in person and book at the temple. Unfortunately, children under 6 are not permitted.
Don't forget to...
Pick up some gold leaf products as souvenirs.
The Kanazawa area is famous for gold leaf products. There are workshops around the the city where you can see artisans work and pick up an incredible variety of gold leaf products from cosmetics and skin care products infused with flecks of gold to gold leaf decorated cake, it is a great place for impressive looking omiyage!
Miss Paris features a full body foam massage on the front page of their website! You can choose different facial treatments such as aging care and acne scar treatment, face slimming, ect. Miss Paris also offers those coveted gold facials on that you see on tv, using 100% pure gold to brighten and revitalize your face.