Kanazawa is not completely unknown but not as popular as other big cities like Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, Nara, or Sapporo. One word for this city is unique! This become one of my must visit place list of Japan. Some people says Kanazawa is like little Kyoto, and I quite agree since the atmosphere of both city look alike. Kanazawa is the capital of Ishikawa perfecture, about 400 km from Tokyo. Since last year, Japan open shinkansen to Kanazawa station so you can reach it only in 2,5 hours. But since I going there on a cheapo budget trip, I used Willer BussPass. I use 3 days buss pass for 12,500 JPY.
Whats so unique about this city is because they offering authentic Japan architecture and craft as well as modern at the same time. I arrive at Kanazawa station at around 7 am and just outside the station I run into big red bridge which is the land mark of Kanazawa. Beneath the bridge there is a cute Daruma from flowers. Gold Daruma is the mascot of Kanazawa. I bought Kanazawa loople buss pass for 500 yen in the tourist information center, but actually you don`t really need it. Tourist attraction in Kanazawa mostly located in the center of the city and I found it is really fun to walk there. They had a very big pedestrian walks (at least compared to Sendai or Tokyo).
First thing we see was Omi cho fish market, about 15 minutes walks or 1 stop from Kanazawa Station. The market offering you a fresh sea food either raw or cooked. Some stalls could cook the ingredients you just bought. It is quite similar with Tsukiji fish market in Tokyo but smaller and not too crowded. I eat grilled squid there for 350 JPY.
Then we go to Kanazawa Castle Park (5 minutes walk). The castle was built in 1580 as ordered by Oda Nobunaga. On 1869 Maeda Toshiie made entry to the castle and Maeda clan become the lord of the castle for 14 generations. The Castle used as military base until the end of world war II and on 1995 it became campus of Kanazawa University. Just outside the castle park, I crossed Ishikawabashi bridge to Kenrokuen Garden. I really like the garden. It is a typical Edo period japanese garden. I spotted lake with a wooden bridge, Gankobashi (Flying Wild Geese) bridge which is a stone bridge that looks like a wild geese flying formation, Japanese tea house, Fountain, and Hanamibashi (flower bridge). They have a lined cherry blossom, plum trees, azalea, and irises. But I came too early the garden is not fully bloom yet 😦 But I still in love with it.
After strolling around the garden we ate the gold leaf ice cream in front of 21st century museum of contemporary art. Yes gold. We really ate gold here. Kanazawa is famous for their gold leaf. They have a special method to produce a super thin layer of gold that looks like a gold paper. You can found everything with gold here, from accessories, cosmetics, and also food. The word ‘Kanazawa’ (金沢) itself literally means ‘marsh of golds’. There is a legend about Imohori Togori (Togori the potato digger) who tried to digging potatoes but found gold instead. What a lucky man 😉
Not far from the museum there is Ishiura Jinja shrine with a cute red wooden fence. Then go to the samurai district, Nagamachi district. Walking around the district full of wooden houses with touch of samurai style makes me feels like in a old samurai movie. LOL. And what makes me happy is we found Indonesian restaurant there; the Frangipani asian restaurant. Yay!! We were craving for indonesian food and the food there was tasty!
Next destination was the Geisha district: Nishi Chaya, but along the way we bumped into Oyama Jinja Shrine (尾山神社). We take a look inside and actually I did not expect much. But I was so wrong. This shrine is really unique, you can feel the touch of European architecture as well as Japanese and Chinese at the same time. The gate of the Shrine designed by Dutch architect. The shrine was built on 1599 dedicated to the first Feudal lord of Maeda clan. I spotted some statue and also a pond with japanese garden on the other side. It was so beautiful 🙂 and Nishi Chaya district was not less enchanting. There are several gold leaf fabrication place here that will let you see how they make it. You could also trying to made some craft with gold leaf ornament. I tried the tea with gold here, it taste like ordinary tea but the gold topping make you feel fabulous. haha. We also found a house that made of gold, yeah a whole storage room was covered by gold. The good thing is there lots of tea house and sweet shop here. When we tired of walking we stopped at tea house and enjoying Japanese matcha and sakura shaped sweet. The Geisha district was not so big but I enjoyed strolling around there.
We going back to Tokyo at night using Willer night bus again. It was so damn tiring but really worth it. Can’t wait to discover another interesting Place in Japan 😀
P.S find more about Japan Willer buss pass here
Kanazawa station and omi cho market
Kanazawa castle park and Kenrokuen garden
Ishiura Jinja Shrine and Nagamachi district
Oyama Jinja and Nishi Chaya district