Places to go in Japan: Kanazawa (Just My Travel Notes)

After a few days exploring Tokyo and it’s surrounding areas it was time to explore more of what Japan has to offer. Whenever you read about travelling in Japan you will often hear mention of the “Golden Route” – this is basically THE main popular route tourists tend to take which is mostly Tokyo > Hakone > Kyoto > Nara > Osaka. It is the main most popular spots that more people check out.

The Shinkansen to take us to Kanazawa (can’t help but be impressed by the shape and size of these trains)

In researching this trip I read about the Second Golden Route which included Kanazawa and Takayama. We decided to give this a look as we were going to be hitting up Kyoto and Osaka later.

Kanazawa train station – the impressive gate welcoming you to Kanazawa

First things first – getting to Kanazawa – enter “SHINKANSEN” – using the amazing HyperDia website to plan our travel – and also utilising our Japan Rail Pass we reserved our seats on the 10:08 Kagayaki Shinkansen to take us to Kanazawa.

Make sure you take advantage of the great shopping centre foodhalls nearby the Shinkansen stations. The food is amazing as well as being a handy way to keep yourself occupied for a couple of hours.

Coming from Australia the Shinkansen is an amazing piece of infrastructure. It leaves anything we have in Australia absolutely in the dust. The service and efficiency is something to behold.

Just My Travel Tip: You can take your own food onto the Skinkansen, most of the stations have a shopping centre either attached or pretty darn closeby. Make sure you go to the foodhall – which is usually in the basement or ground floor. Grab some Bento Box of food. The food is so tasty, good value and perfect to keep you occupied on the trip. You can also buy some elegantly wrapped food ‘gifts’ there as well.

The train arrived (on-time) and we were on our way. The total journey time from Shinjuku to Kanazawa was only 180 minutes (3 hours).

Kenrokuen – Gardens in Kanazawa. Make sure you take some time to explore (…and wear your walking shoes).
Such a striking landscaped garden. Amazing colour and variety everywhere you looked.

Kanazawa was once the seat of power for the Maeda Clan during the Edo Period. The Maeda Clan were the most powerful clan after the Tokugawa. It was also fortunate in that during the Second World War it managed to escape being destroyed by air raids. Meaning many of the buildings survived in good condition.

Kanazawa Castle. Still being slowly restored to it’s former glory. The grounds are lovely to wander through.

The main attraction in Kanazawa is undoubtedly the Kenrokuen, one of Japan’s most celebrated landscape gardens. There are almost 10 hectares of gardens to explore and the scenery is amazing.

The walled gates and entrances to the castle compound. You can tell they were designed to put attackers at a disadvantage for the defence of the castle.

Likewise the Kanazawa Castle and grounds are an amazing space to explore. The castle had been the seat of power for the Maeda Clan since 1583, however had been burnt down several times over the centuries. The most recent was in 1881 and only two buildings and one gate survived.

This place is a photographer’s dream, so many angles and unique vantage points. Bring plently of memory cards.

The castle is however being slowly reconstructed so certainly worth having a look around. It is also at a lovely high point in the city so provides a lovely vantage lookout.

The Chaya districts in Kanazawa give you such a well preserved glympse of the Edo Period in Japan’s history.

Kanazawa is also home to three well preserved “chaya” districts. The Chaya were essentially Tea Houses, an exclusive restaurant, where guests were entertained by geisha who perform song and dance. Particularly during the Edo period chaya were in entertainment areas (usually just outside the cities). The Higashi Chaya District is the largest in Kanazawa.

Sorry you will have to suffer through my arty shots here, I was just having so much fun photographing this area. The light, the wood, the architecture was just asking to be photographed

Walking along the streets you can’t help but be taken away by the architecture and design of the buildings.

Ok last arty shot I promise (for now). I loved the Chaya Districts.

Getting around Kanazawa is pretty easy, there are a number of loop/shuttle buses that will take you from Kanazawa station to all the main sites. All of the main sites are within about a two kilometer radius of the castle park. You “could” walk it but the Loop bus is so much easier at only Y200 per ride or Y500 for a 1 day pass.

Couldn’t help but include one more photo from the Kenrokuen Gardens

I only stayed one night in Kanazawa as I was heading to Takayama the next day (enroute to the Japanese Grand Prix). I would definitely like to come back for another couple of nights to allow a bit more to explore some of the Chaya Districts a bit more and also the amazing gardens more.

HOTEL: We stayed at the APA Hotel Kanazawa Ekimae (Booked through it was only a 2 minute walk from the train station. The rooms are comfortable and reasonable sized, there is also a lovely Onsen on the rooftop which was nice and relaxing after a day of travelling and walking around town.

Thanks for following along with my travel blog. Please as always feel free to leave me a comment below about today’s post. Have you been to Kanazawa? What did you think? How amazing are the Shinkansen in Japan? So efficient and helpful for getting around the country.

As always a big thanks to those of you who have followed my blog. I am really thankful for the support you have shown me – keep the comments coming I love to be able to chat with you as I am travelling around.

Thanks and see you tomorrow.