The top things to do in the city of Kanazawa, Japan in a day.
I have to be honest – Kanazawa was just a pitstop city to pick up our car and head on over to the more fun places. Turns out, there’s plenty to see to fill up our 24 hours in the city.
Kanazawa Castle Park
We arrived into Kanazawa at not the best of weathers and we only had one day here. Armed with our umbrellas, we made our way to Kanazawa Castle, some 20-minute walk away. Not the best castle I’ve seen, and the crows are… aplenty. We’re not too sure if you can enter the actual castle itself, but when we were there, the gates were closed off. Admission is free.
Address: 1-1番1号 Marunouchi, Kanazawa, Ishikawa 920-0937, Japan.
Opening Hours: 07:00 to 18:00
Kenrokuen Garden is located near the castle, so this has to be next on our little walking tour. Full disclaimer, we did not make it in because of the terrible weather. It was getting dark as well by the time we arrived. There’s an entry fee, so it didn’t make much sense for us to be in a… dark garden. Looking at photos, I think this would have been one of the top highlights of Kanazawa. It’s purportedly one of the top three gardens in Japan.
Address: 1 Kenrokumachi, Kanazawa, Ishikawa 920-0936, Japan
Opening Hours: 7:00 to 18:00 (March to October 15), 8:00 to 17:00 (October 16 to February)
Admission: 320 Yen
Nishi Chaya – Geisha District
After our failed attempt at Kenrokuen Garden, we made our way to Nishi Chaya, the so-called geisha district of Kanazawa. We assumed it to be like Gion of Kyoto, where it comes alive at dusk… alas, when we arrived at around 5.30pm, shops were either closed, or closing up. Needless to say, no geishas spotted. The little area retains a lot of old, traditional buildings. We walked around and appreciated it not for long, as it started pouring again.
Address: 2 Chome-25 Nomachi, Kanazawa, Ishikawa 921-8031, Japan
Opening Hours: 09:00 to 17:00
After our failed visit at Nishi Chaya, we tried looking for a place to have dinner… and we could hardly find open shops. We pulled out trusty TripAdvisor, and decided on Fuwari based on reviews.
When we arrived, we were asked if we had reservations. We didn’t, and got the door slammed in our faces. Kidding – I’m being dramatic, but we were told to wait outside while they see if they can accommodate us. Could have invited us to wait indoors where it’s warm though. Apparently the place gets booked out. Might be because it’s the only place open.
Anyway, eventually they did find space for us much to our delight, because we’re not excited to try and find another open place. The reviews were right – very good izakaya food, though on a higher price range. Was it mind-blowing? No. But quality food expected of a Japanese establishment. The staff were also incredibly helpful and spoke great English.
Address: 2 Chome-6-57 Owaricho, Kanazawa, Ishikawa 920-0902, Japan
Opening Hours: 17:00 to 23:00
Nagamachi – Samurai District
The next morning before leaving Kanazawa, we walked to Nagamachi, the Samurai District. I considered the visit to be one of the top highlights of Kanazawa. A quaint little town with well-preserved authentic samurai houses. It was nice to walk amongst the samurai houses, some of which have been converted into cute shops selling traditional souvenirs and cafes and restaurants.
Address: Nagamachi Kanazawa, Ishikawa 920-0865, Japan
Opening Hours: 09:00 to 17:00
While at Nagamachi, we visited a samurai house, belonging to the Nomura clan. There’s a fee to enter, but I thought it was worth it. The house interior is well-maintained but the highlight is most definitely the garden out back. Extremely well-manicured and peaceful. You can tell there’s a lot of effort that went in to maintaining the house. On the second level is a little tea room. It was nice to rest there with a hot cup of matcha.
Address: 1 Chome-3-32 Nagamachi, Kanazawa, Ishikawa 920-0865, Japan
Opening Hours: 8:30 to 16:30
Admission: 550 yen
I would say this was my favourite part of the visit, because food! We visited the market twice. The first was enroute to Kanazawa Castle, and we took a quick tour of the place.
The other time was to have brunch – and it was easily one of my best meals of the trip. The seafood was so fresh and delicious. Snow crabs are a must-have here too. Unfortunately, I didn’t take note of the restaurant we ate at. I kept track of locations via tags on instagram stories, and this tag was in Japanese. Which I later learnt translated to… Omicho Market. Welp.
There are two levels to Omicho Market, we just picked a place on ground level. Going one round at the second level revealed more premium pricing than the places on ground level.
Address: 5 0 Kamiomicho, Kanazawa, Ishikawa 920-0905, Japan
Opening Hours: 9:00 to 17:00
Where to Stay
Hotel Mystays Premier Kanazawa – Located close to the train station, this was by far the biggest room I’ve ever stayed in in Japan. Ever. The rooms are a little bit on the outdated end, but clean and spotless.
Getting to Kanazawa
The most common and easiest way to arrive to Kanazawa would be by train. I arrived here from Kyoto on the Thunderbird. The comfortable journey took a little over 2 hours.
Before arriving I read that the attractions are easy walks away from the train station… no one mentioned how uninspiring the walks were going to be. You’re going to be walking through boring neighbourhoods, though you do get the random preserved building.
From the train station, it takes about 20 minutes to walk to the first attraction. Except for Kanazawa Castle and Kenrokuen, the rest of the attractions are about 20-minute walks away.
Although public transportation is available, a one-way route would have taken about 20 minutes as well – so we walked a lot. We also ended up just taking the taxi. Between the three of us, it made more sense financially on top of convenience, speed and comfort. Each bus ride would have been 200 Yen, by the way.
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