Our family had a wonderful two day visit to Kanazawa last week. Wanted to share a recommended two-day itinerary. Below is the report for Day 1. Read Kanazawa – Day Two here. Kanazawa is a lovely city in Ishikawa prefecture (on the west side of Japan – through the Japan Alps and near the Japan Sea) which is, as of March 15, 2015, connect to Tokyo via the Shinkansen. It now only takes 2.5 hours to experience old world Japan filled with art, crafts and great food! Since the town was not bombed in WWII beautiful old sections still are visible and many old houses and stores are still in use. Kanazawa has a great bus and rental bike system. Figure out where your hotel is, and them plan your route. Kanazawa also has a very nice tourism website in multiple languages which you can reference before your trip for upcoming events and promotions. Hope you enjoy Kanazawa as much as we did!
- Leave Tokyo between 6:00-8:00 a.m. on the Hokuriku Shinkansen for Kanazawa station (Ishikawa Prefecture)
- Arrive at Kanazawa station between 8:30-11:00. The newly renovated station has luggage storage so check your bags in until your hotel check-in time later in the day.
- There is a great tourism office right as you leave the Shinkansen ticket wickets so stop in and get the bus map and any other maps or info you need.
- If you are hungry a great first stop is the Omi-cho Market. The Omi-cho Market was established about the middle of the 18th century. There are over 150 stores in the market that sell fresh seafood, seasonal fruits and vegetable, tea and many other delicacies. I think we visit market three times over the two days since the boys LOVED the food, and it was a very central location we kept passing in transit. Note all the food can also be shipped to Tokyo if you are craving crabs! This stop will take you 30-60 mins.
- Next walk about 10 minutes to visit the Oyama Jinja Shrine. The gate of the shrine is very interesting and rare in Japan since it is a mixture of Japanese, Chinese and European design. The gate was designated an Important Cultural Asset on August 29, 1950. There is a beautiful little pond with stepping stones to the right of the main shrine (as you face the shrine) which the kids had a great time jumping around on. Also to the right of the shrine and cute lily pad sculpture and golden fog shading a bench. Take a rest and a photo!. This stop will take you 30-60 mins.
- Next walk about ten more minutes to the Naga-machi Buke Yashiki District, which is the old Samurai neighbourhood. This area is beautifully maintained with the original properties, most of which are still private homes. There are cute shops sprinkled throughout the area. About 45-60 minutes is needed to walk around this area. If you have more time and interest in seeing some beautiful period houses and gardens I highly recommend to visit the Nomura Family Samurai residence, and the Takada Family remains.
- The next stop is again about a ten minute walk to Myoryuji Temple (Ninjadera Temple). You will need a reservation to visit this temple – call a few days in advance in Japanese (tel:076-241-0888). All explanations are in Japanese so watch closely to understand the explanations. Myoryuji Temple was built as a prayer place but to protect the leading family of the area the temples of this neighbourhood were also built as shields. The leading family added a number of functions to Myoryuji Temple so that it would work as a lookout post and fort, and thus has may cool escape hatches and surprise corners. That is why this temple is also called Ninja Temple. This was the highlight of the trip for my third son! This museum will take you 60 minutes.
- At this point it is probably 4:00 p.m. ish. I recommend the last visit of the day to be the D.T. Suzuki Museum (closed on Monday, open 9:30 – 17:00). A beautiful contemporary museum where you can learn about the life and work of D.T. Suzuki, noted Philosopher and scholar of the late nineteenth to mid-twentieth century, and contemplate about your life. A nice way to end the 1st day in Kanazawa. The museum will take 30-60 minutes, unless you choose to mediate.
Next step is to take a bus back to the station, which should take 10 minutes, grab your bags and go to your hotel. We stayed at two locations during our trip. The first night we stayed in town at the Kanazawa Tokyo Hotel which is very close to the Naga-machi District (the samurai neighborhood). The rooms were very clean and good for a family; a delicious buffet breakfast was included. The second night we stayed outside of town (30 minute bus ride, or 20 minute 3,000 yen cab ride) at a wonderful Japanese ryokan called Takitei; beautiful Japanese mid-century deco with an outside onsen area. Many private rooms have personal outside baths. Their website is only in Japanese. If you are looking for a special get-away, this is a great spot.
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