Kanazawa is a city steeped in history, bordered by scenic mountains and perfectly perched on the Sea of Japan. If you’re after the best-preserved view into ancient Japanese culture, there are few places that can rival Kanazawa. Even if you only have 24 hours to explore you’ll be able to get a taste of the historic heart of the city. This guide will help you discover all of the highlights Kanawaza has to offer as well as hidden gems in between.
Start your day at the picturesque Kenroku-en Garden, it’s best to get here early to avoid the crowds. The best place to enter the garden is at the Katsurazaka Gate, which is at the northeast corner of the park, close to the Kenrokuen-shita bus stop. There’s an information booth near this entrance that has maps of the park which will help you explore it all. After a nice leisurely stroll through the garden exit via the Mayumizaka Gate. Then head over to the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art and browse the exhibitions or stop at the cafe there for a quick breakfast. Then walk north to Kanazawa Castle Park and explore the small paths that lead up to the castle remains.
Visit the Omicho Market, a local’s favorite market. It’s less crowded and more enjoyable than Tokyo’s famous Tsukiji and more spacious than Kyoto’s Nishiki. The market packed with stall after stall selling locally caught seafood, as well as a good selection of fruit and vegetables. There are plenty of restaurants in the market where you can sample some of the stuff you see on sale like Iki-Iki-Tei that specializes in sushi. If fish isn’t your thing there are plenty of other options nearby like a humble bowl of noodles from Kadocho Souhonten. There is something for everyone here.
Visit a samurai house in the Nagamachi Samurai House Area. You’ll find the Nagamachi Samurai House Area on the west side of the city, next to the Korinbo District. This is a neighborhood full of perfectly preserved samurai houses located along two canals that run through the area. Several of the houses have been restored and you can step instead of the entranceway of a few of them to get a glimpse of how a samurai lived. Or take time to explore the Ninja Temple, the Myoryuji Temple was built by the Maeda lords, rulers over the region during the Edo Period. While the temple isn’t actually associated with any ninjas, it earned its nickname because of its many deceptive defenses. It is a great place to explore with the whole family if you’re looking for things to do in Kanazawa altogether.
Take in the beauty of the night from Utatsuyama Bokodai Observatory in Utatsuyama Park at the base of Mt. Utatsuyama. Historically the general public was not allowed here because of the view over Kanazawa Castle, but today, it is open to all. Enjoy the views of the streets of Kanazawa from atop the 141m observatory as well as the distant Sea of Japan and the peaks of the Mt. Haku mountain range. Or savor the night view in style while enjoying food and drinks, at the Raspberry on the 16th floor of Hotel Kanazawa. Enjoy the city’s nightlife at Round 1 Stadium Kanazawa and have fun at the bowling alley, sing away in the karaoke rooms, and play any of the 380 machines of various games at the arcade, its the perfect way to end the day.
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