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 2. To read Kanazawa Day 1, please click here. Hope you enjoy Kanazawa as much as we did!
Kanazawa Day Two
- Begin your day with a visit to the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art. The Museum does hold a collection, but it is not exhibited at all time. The main focus is on special exhibits. When we visited the main exhibit titled Architecture since 3.11 was being held (running until May 10th, 2015). Overall, I found it very educational. There was also a secondary exhibit around Architecture for Dogs. The museum building is a work of art itself and one to be visited. Your kids will also enjoy running around the lawn that has some interactive art. The museum is closed on Monday, but open Tuesday – Sunday 10:00 – 18:00. Cost is adults 1,000 yen, college age 800 yen, and high school and below 400 yen. Click here to see detail on upcoming exhibits. A visit to the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art will take 45-90 minutes.
- Walk five mins from the museum to the Kanazawa Castle. The Castle was initially constructed in the mid-1500s, but burned down multiple times in; 1620s, 1759 and 1881, The Hishi Yagura turret, Gojikken Nagaya warehouse, and Hashizume-mon Tsuzuki Yagura turret were faithfully restored in 2001 to their 1809 form, using traditional construction methods. You can enter the rebuilt facilities which used to be called the “house of 1,000 tatami” and see how the castle was constructed. My kids enjoyed climbing the many ladders and watching the videos that explained the construction. If you want to study the history and building details, the Ishikawa prefecture has a wonderful website in English to explain. Expect to spend 1-2 hours in the Kanazawa Castle grounds.
- Hungry by now? Walk in the direction of the Kenroku-en Park and just to the left is a street with many small shops and restaurants. I recommend you grab something to eat here before entering the park.
- Kenroku-en is considered one of the three most beautiful gardens in Japan (also in the top three; Kairaku-en in Mito and Koraku-en in Okayama). We visited in early March, and the cherry blossoms were just starting to bloom. The park is beautiful year round. During the Edo period (1603 – 1868), Kenroku-en was founded and extended over generations by the feudal lords of Kaga (current southern part of Ishikawa) as a typical Daimyo (feudal lord) garden.
I was wondering how Japanese gardens are judged as “most beautiful”. The Kenroku-en website has an explanation! Six Features as a Synonym for an Excellent Landscape Garden – According to the ancient Chinese book of gardens, there should be six different sublime qualities to which a garden can aspire. Grouped in their traditional complementary pairs, they are spaciousness & seclusion, artifice & antiquity, water-courses & panoramas. As might be imagined, it is difficult enough to find a garden that is blessed with any three or four of these desirable attributes, let along five, or even more rarely, all six. Yet that is just the case here, where as the name “Kenroku-en” literally means “garden that combines six characteristics”, which is named by Sadanobu Matsudaira, a feudal load in the present Tohoku district (northern part of mainland Japan). So there, you have it. Make sure you take time to enjoy this beautiful garden. More detail here. Depending on the weather, you will probably walk around Kenroku-en for 45-90 minutes.
- Higashi Chaya District is a must visit in Kanazawa. The rows of historical houses are designated as Japan Cultural Assets, and most remain from the Edo period. The word Chaya is a traditional place of feasts and entertainment, where geisha entertained people by performing dances and playing Japanese traditional musical instruments. Chaya houses existed throughout central Kanazawa but in the early 1800s were moved into four district areas, of which the largest was Higashi Chaya. A chaya house is characterized with a beautiful lattice called “kimusuko” on the outer side of the first floor and Japanese-style guestrooms located on the second floor. Only Kyoto Gion and Kanazawa Higashi Chaya districts are designated as Japan’s cultural assets. You can visit many of the Chaya, which have been renewed into restaurants, teahouses, and souvenir shops. I recommend you spend a few hours having tea, sake or shopping in one of the many beautiful galleries or stores.
- Last but not least, while in Kanazawa, I highly recommend you participate in one of the local crafts. Local crafts include gold plating, lacquer wear, Kutani porcelain, silk dying, embroidery, fishing flies and doll making. Visit the Kanazawa website to study about each craft and find lessons (click on the Traditional crafts in the top navigation to find lessons).
- We chose as a family to each make a gold plated craft (Kinpaku). There are many locations where you can make gold plated crafts, but most book up in advance so call before you travel. We crafted at a shop called Sakuda, which is in Higashi Chaya District. A class is 60-90 mins. The cost depends on the item you choose (chopsticks about 600 yen upwards to large plates for 3,000+). Reservation are needed so call 076-251-677. Sakura is open seven days a week 9:00 – 18:00. The address is 1-3-27, Higashiyama, Kanazawa. We all enjoyed the gold plating craft lesson, and each have a special souvenir to remember Kanazawa.
I really hope you enjoyed reading about our family trip to Kanazawa! If you did not read Kanazawa Day One please click here.
Kanazawa – Day Two