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17 Best Things to do in Kanazawa You’re Going to Love

I absolutely loved the Ishikawa region of Japan. It is like a mini Japan and easy to negotiate. During the 1600s the region’s capital Kanazawa saw the development of a refined culture focussed on the arts and became Japan’s fourth town after Tokyo, Osaka, and Kyoto.

The Ishikawa region was spared from many of the wars and disasters of the last couple of hundred years so much of it is intact. There are loads of fantastic things to do in Kanazawa itself as well as in the nearby Kaga region, which is only 30 minutes from Kanazawa by train.

Perfectly placed lady for a photo!

A fascinating element of the Ishikawa region is how many of their traditional arts and crafts are not only still practised but are practised today in a way that builds upon tradition but adds modernity. Often when travelling it is possible to see how things were done hundreds of years ago.

However, it is rare to see how those ancient traditions have been translated and are practised in the modern world. Indeed, Kanazawa city is registered in UNESCO’s Creative Cities Network in the field of Crafts and Folk Arts. 

In Ishikawa many traditions are not only still going on they are alive and continue to thrive and develop – and tend to be very photogenic!

17 Things to do in Kanazawa and Around Kanazawa

1. Kanazawa Train Station

Let’s start with the amazing Kanazawa train station. It is a work of art in itself! Kanazawa station was designed by world-leading architects Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa.

The Hokiruku bullet train began operating between tokyo and Kanazawa in March 2015, reducing a 4-hour train journey to just 2 1/2 hours.

Kanazawa station entrance – combine your transport with Kanazawa Tourism!
The amazing food hall at Kanazawa station

This stunning modern building features 3,019 glass panels in its Welcome dome to protect visitors from the rain. There are a stunning fountain and beautiful traditional style benches which include flowers.

As if all of this wasn’t enough Kanazawa train station is also home to a very nice and rather large shopping centre and a fantastic food hall that wouldn’t look out of place in Harrods.

Take a tour of Kanazawa with a local

The beautiful glass ceiling at Kanazawa Station

I am crazy about Japan. Check out some of my other posts on 10 days in Japan, Japan landmarks, one day in Tokyo, Kyoto 2 day itinerary, the Nakasendo Trail and What is Japan known for.

2. Geisha Village Kanazawa

Kanazawa is home to 3 tea houses or traditional districts and they are all top Kanazawa attractions. The largest is Higashi Chaya District or the Geisha Village.

It is full of gorgeous old wooden houses and still lived today. The Higashi Chaya District Kanazawa is full of lovely stores, restaurants and tea houses.

Higashi Chaya

The packaging and merchandising in the stores of Higashi Chaya are just so beautiful and so detailed. There was one store in Higashi Choya Kanazawa that only sold blotting paper – all in the most beautiful packaging.

Miso shop in Kanazawa

Higashi Chaya is also well known for its gold leaf (more of that to come in the next section). The village is extremely photogenic. Helpfully, many female visitors dress up in kimonos and explore the area (more of that to come) which really adds to photos.

The beautiful buildings of Higashi Chaya

From the authentic wooden buildings to the beautifully merchandised shops to the lovely restaurants and tea houses do allow yourself at least one to two hours to explore or discover some hidden gems on your own private tour.

3. Immerse yourself in all things Gold Leaf

Kanazawa produces the most gold leaf in all of Japan and has been doing so for over 400 years. Indeed, even today Kanazawa produces 99% of Japan’s gold leaf and experiencing gold leaf is one of the key Kanazawa things to do.

Start your golden photogenic journey at Hakuza Hikari Kura Gold House Kanazawa.

Gold Leaf Tea

Hakuza Hikari Kura is a gold leaf shop in Higashi Chaya and the gold house is hidden in the back of the house. This former tea house is now fully coated in pure gold platinum foil on the outside and 24 carat gold inside walls.

Into the Gold Leaf Shop

Next up grab yourself a gold leaf ice cream in Higashi Chaya. It is easy to find the store which sells the gold leaf ice cream as there is quite the queue. It is essentially a vanilla soft serve cone that has a thin sheet of gold leaf applied.

To be honest, gold leaf ice-cream didn’t taste any different from a normal soft serve ice cream cone but it was very photogenic.

Gold leaf ice cream

Another one of the popular Kanazawa tourist attractions is participating in a hands-on Gilting workshop at one of the stores which have gold leaf manufacturing on site. I took my workshop at Sakuda gold and silver leaf crafts.

First up in the workshop was seeing how a bar of 24-carat gold is pummelled and pulled and flattened and shaped to become gold leaf.

Gold leaf stencil

After watching the process, I was invited to choose a lacquer item (Ishikawa is also well known for lacquer) and then a design. I chose a square-shaped black lacquer box and a simple design.

A gold leaf craftsman

The design is essentially a steel stencil. The stencil is traced onto sticky paper which is then applied to the box. Next up is the application of glue and then gold leaf dust to the box.

As always, I had an even greater appreciation for the artistry involved in this process after my own far-from-perfect attempt! But I did get a unique souvenir to take home.

Kanazawa’s gold house
Full 24K gold!

It is extremely tempting to buy many gold leaf infused items at Sakuda. From body lotion to coffee to classic gold products there was a lot on offer. And don’t miss the gold bathrooms at Sakuda. Alas, the toilet itself was not gold but everything else was in the bathroom.

The gold leaf bathroom

4. Kenrokuen Gardens

Wow Wow Wow! The stunning Kenrokuen Gardens were one of the major highlights of my visit to Ishikawa. Kenrokuen Gardens are said to be the 3rd most beautiful gardens in Japan which makes them one of the key tourist sights in Japan.

If this survey was taken in the autumn I think this Kanazawa garden would have taken first place for two reasons.


Firstly, the autumnal leaves in Kenrokuen Gardens Kanazawa were absolutely stunning.

The second reason is the application of Yukizuri to the Karasakinomatsu pine trees of the gardens. This involves assembling ropes on the trees that create a triangular effect so that the winter snow will fall off the pines rather than weighing on them and causing damage.


Yukizuri on the pine trees of Kenrokuen gardens is one of the most iconic images of the Ishikawa region and for good reason. November is the perfect time to visit Kenrokuen as the Yukizuri is applied at the beginning of November and the autumnal leaves are still on the trees – photography heaven.

The lake at Kenrouken Gardens

Begin your tour at the Hisagoike pond. This stunning pond has small temples, little wooden bridges and autumn leaves on steroids – all of which make for fantastic reflection photos. Nearby is Japan’s oldest fountain which reaches heights of 3.5 metres.


Then head to the Karasakinomatsu pine trees and photograph them from every angle. Start with some up-close shots of the pine trees with Yukizuri and then move around the nearby fountain to get some reflections and water in the foreground shots. I took a lot of photos here.

Or organise your own private tour.


5. Gyokusen’inmaru

These beautiful gardens were created for Kanazawa castle by the wife of the second feudal lord Gyoksen-in. It is thought that the Gyokusen Inmaru gardens were primarily used as a courtyard for the domain lord, whereas Kenrokuen Gardens were used to entertain guests.

The height from the top of Gyokusen’inmaru’s stone wall to the lovely pond is 22 metres. This is quite unique in Japan and provides a lovely back-drop as well as a three-dimensional view.

Love a bridge reflection photo!

Gyokusen Garden has a beautiful pond that provides some terrific reflection photos as well as three lovely bridges. There is even a wooden boat – primarily for decorative purposes.


Best of all it is possible to enjoy a Japanese tea ceremony whilst looking at these beautiful gardens. One of the Japan top things to do is to participate in a tea ceremony – and this is a great one.

The Gyokusen’an Rest House has panoramic views of the garden and serves tea virtually every day of the year. I enjoyed some matcha green tea and a fresh wagashi sweet, served by beautiful ladies wearing kimonos, and enjoyed the view.

View from the tea house

6. Kanazawa Fish Market – Omicho Market

I didn’t make it to Tokyo’s famous fish market so I was delighted when I discovered that Kanazawa had its own very well known fish market. Omi-Cho is known as Iskhikawa’s Kitchen and has about 180 shops.

There is a mix of stalls that sell items to take home (winter is peak time due to seasonal delicacies such as sweet shrimp and snow crab) and ready to eat stalls.

Omicho market stall

From an Instagram point of view do be careful as quite a few stalls at the Omicho market Kanazawa have no photograph signs. Omi-Cho is only open during the day and is about an 800m walk from Kanazawa station.

Guided tour of Omi-Cho and the teahouses of Kanazawa

Seaweed on sale at the Kanazawa fish market

7. Dress up in a Kimono

One of the most fun Kanazawa Japan things to do – and most instagrammable activities – was dressing up in a kimono and then walking through some of the more traditional areas of town. This was great fun.

Time to get on a kimono!

Apparently, you can dress up in a kimono all over Japan – and when I say dressing up this means hair, flowers and the whole bit. Our kimono hire shop was a short stroll from the hotel and the prices were very reasonable. All you will keep on is your bra and underpants.

Getting my hair done

Once you arrive you begin by choosing your kimono (if you’re western you’ll need to choose from the larger sizes) and the sash as well as the cord which wraps around the sash. There is then another piece of material which kind of sits on top of the sash.

Obviously this can take hours but I chose to ask for recommendations from the lovely ladies in the stores – and red for photography purposes. I then got my hair done.

There are a variety of hairstyles available and boy are these ladies fast. I kept my hair down but had it swept to one side. Little flowers etc are then inserted.

So many kimonos to choose from!

Then comes the actual kimono – I had no idea that putting on a kimono involved so many layers. Apparently the goal is to appear as a straight line – tough when you have western curves.

I had my breasts bandaged several times over – I now know how Judy garland must have felt whilst filming the wizard of oz.

Kimonos from behind

Then put on some funky white socks that have a separate area for your big toe – this is needed to wear the sandals. It is very easy to see how wearing a kimono changes how you walk.

There was more room to move my legs than I expected but all the structure means there is no leaning back in seats. You will have fabulous posture.

Apparently the sexiest part of a woman, when she is wearing a kimono, is the back of her neck – which is why the material sits back slightly – and her wrists. It is important to sort of manipulate your kimono sleeves whilst serving a man tea so he gets a hint of the tantalizing wrist.

Kimono shots in the Samurai House

The highlight for me was the kimono sleeves. You can tuck anything into these! Apparently traditionally one is used as a little rubbish bin and the other for your phone, lipstick etc.

Once your outfit is complete it is time to visit geisha villages and other traditional backdrops in Kanazawa for an Instagram frenzy.

What to do in Kanazawa – get dressed up in a kimono and head to the traditional villages!

There is a selection of kimono offers available – with and without the hair, getting your own photographer etc. Best of all, many of the hire companies will come and pick your kimono up at your hotel the next day.

It is also possible to dress up like a samurai and do the same thing.

8. Samurai House

What a samurai used to wear

Next up was a visit to the house of a samurai! In the Nagamachi Samurai District is the Nomura Clan Samurai House and Garden – a beautiful spot and a perfect place to take photographs whilst wearing a kimono.

I particularly loved the guest room in the Samurai house. The floor of the guest room is raised relative to the rest of the house. This is because this room is where a senior samurai would sleep so it needed to be raised to illustrate his seniority.

The garden of the samurai house Kanazawa is also extremely lovely.

The garden at the samurai house
Inside the Samurai House

9. DT Suzuki Museum

DT Suzuki is the man who introduced the world to Zen Buddhism. He was born in Kanazawa. This delightful museum was opened in 2011 and is a stunning feat of modern architecture.

There are three spaces in the museum – all designed to bring to life Suzuki’s vision of Zen Buddhism.

Entrance to the DT Suzuki Museum

The exhibition space at the DT Suzuki museum Kanazawa allows visitors to learn about Suzuki’s achievements. The learning space allows visitors to discover his vast array of thoughts. The contemplative space is designed for reflection.

The Contemplation Space

This is a museum that was designed for lingering. There was even someone meditating when I visited. By far my favourite area of the DT Suzuki museum was the mirror pool in the contemplative space. And it is also the most photographic space in the museum.

Mirror Lake at the DT Suzuki Museum

10. The town of Yamanaka

The Kaga region of Ishikawa is home to four hot spring areas which are all within an 8km radius. These four towns have been visited for their thermal properties for over 1300 years.

Yamanaka is one of the lovely four hot spring towns. In addition to its hot spring properties, Yamanaka is a very cute little town.

Hot springs in the main square of Yamanaka

The main square of Yamanaka Ishikawa has a lovely sculpture, a mini hot spring, a photogenic clock that turns into a puppet show on the hour, the women’s and men’s public bathing spots and a public foot bath which is very popular. Yuge Kaido is the main street of Yamanaka.

The entire town chipped in and built a stone road. This road hides all of the wires of the modern age and is part of what gives Yamanaka a lovely traditional feel.

There are lots of lovely stores selling porcelain and lacquer for which the area is famous. I purchased two lovely coffee mugs and spoons – it is virtually impossible not to buy something.

This is how to make an M!

Yamanaka also has its own Instagram friendly town sign where you can create the “M” in Yamanaka. If you’re on your own pop your hands on your head. If you’re with a friend hold hands to create the inside of the M.

11. See Real Life Geishas

Red lanterns in Yamanaka Theatre

Yamanaka’s main square is also home to a beautiful theatre where live performances are conducted by real-life geishas. The performance lasts for 30 minutes. It began with one geisha in traditional attire doing a dance.

A second geisha then appeared and they began to play a game. It appeared to be the geisha version of rock paper scissors. After they had a couple of rounds we were invited on stage to join them for a great photo opportunity.

Yamanaka Theatre

After the games, the instruments were brought out on stage. Again, visitors were invited to join the geishas on stage and to put on a show.

The Geisha band!
Geishas on stage

Performances run daily and last for 30 minutes on weekdays. The performances are slightly longer on the weekends. This is one of the best things to see in Kanazawa.

Having a great time playing Geisha games

12. Korogiro Bridge

Lovely Korogiro Bridge

Korogiro Bridge is a lovely little wooden bridge over Kakusenkei Gorge in Yamanaka. It is very picturesque and a fantastic photo opportunity. The bridge has recently been rebuilt and it is possible to smell the cedar.

Heading across the bridge

13. Kakusenkei Gorge

Kakusenkei Gorge runs from 1.3kms from Korogiro Bridge to Kurotani Bridge. It is a beautiful gorge with waterfalls and rock formations. The highlight is a spot about 3/4 of the way along from Korogiro Bridge where there are seats and an umbrella and a matcha cafe.

Kakusenkei Gorge

I also got some nice photos of Kakusenkei Gorge from Korogiro Bridge and from the ryokan where I stayed (see below). Kurotani Bridge is also lit up in some great pink lights at night.

The pink bridge of the Kakusenkei Gorge

14. Stay in a Japanese Ryokan

In Yamanaka Kaga, I stayed in a stunning quite new Ryokan at one end of the Korogiro bridge. Miyakowasurenoyado Koorogirou was absolutely stunning.

The location is fantastic – on the Kakusenkie Gorge. My room overlooked both Korogiru Bridge and Kakusenkei Gorge – so picturesque.

Entrance to the Ryokan

On arrival, my shoes were taken away and I did not see them again until I left. We were served matcha tea and a matcha snack on the ground floor.

A light japanese snack!

I was then taken to my room. Well, it was like a flat. Coming in I had a large bedroom with two separate very big single beds. My lovely bathroom had a fantastic Japanese toilet and any toiletries I could possibly need (no shower or bath though).

My favourite part of my “room” was the living room which featured red walls and a stunning view of Korogiro bridge and the Gorge.

Ryokan with a view

Ryokans are famous for their extensive dinners and breakfasts and Miyakowasurenoyado Koorogirou was no exception. Our dinner consisted of about 10 courses – each more beautiful than the next.

Local appetisers to begin, a plate of amazing raw fish, local grilled fish, fish sperm with potato and miso paste (this was new for me and quite salty), then a mix of raw fish and vegetables which are added to hot water served over a small flame – kind of like a fondu in method but completely not like one in practice. And then some hairy crab.


I enjoyed sake with my meal. It was served in my favourite ever serving device as the glass had been hollowed out in the middle for ice to keep it cold – so clever! And I had some plum wine on ice which was also terrific.

Seafood course at the Ryokan

I chose to take my bath after dinner. The onsen had an indoor and an outdoor bath. The baths are split across the day for men and women eg women were 9 pm to 9 am for the outdoor bath.

When you stay at a ryokan you are given lots of things to use. I had an “under” kimono (this is apparently normally cute pajamas), a belt wrap for this kimono, and then a kimono jacket for over. And I also had some nice soft slippers – separate toes of course.

I had been given slippers on arrival (there are also separate slippers just for the toilet – located of course in the toilet).

Love having the ice inside!

Take all your kimono gear plus a small bag down to the onsen area. You will then be given a tub which is like your locker for everything to go in (no photos of course unless you luck out and there is no one in there).

Then it is time to strip off completely. A very small towel is supplied for modesty. The first step is to go into a sort of large bathing/shower area. A stool of sorts is provided and then a handheld shower.

There are all the shower gels, conditioner etc you may need for soaping up and getting clean. Then you are reading to go into the onsen itself.

Hairy crab course

Apparently onsens can be all types of different temperatures and with and without bubbles. Mine was bubble-free and very warm. A bit much initially but then my body adapted.

The bath area was so so beautiful. Rocks and bamboo surrounded it with a view over the gorge – just lovely and dreamlike. I had the most wonderful sleep afterward.

I enjoyed it so much that I got up early and did another bath in the morning.

Now that is an onsen!

It was then time for a multi-course breakfast. Apparently, ryokan’s seldom have coffee, but I lucked out. The breakfast was Japanese but was pretty western friendly.

There was some delicious beef with onions that were served on a small grill as per the night before. This was not what I normally eat for breakfast but it was delicious. 

There was also Japanese pickle which I grew to like. There was miso, tofu in a delicious sauce, custard with mushrooms and fruit and yoghurt.

Courses galore for breakfast

My breakfast was so beautifully laid out – an Instagram shot waiting to happen. Miyakowasurenoyado Koorogirou is so new it isn’t even on TripAdvisor.

Miyakowasurenoyado Koorogirou website Book Now

15. Kutani Museum

My expectations were rather low when I was told I would be visiting a porcelain museum. I was very wrong. Kutani Porcelain Art Museum is filled with stunning works of art – both old and contemporary art.

Kutani Porcelain on display

Kutani pottery is made with powder obtained by pummeling the rocks in this region of Ishikawa. Some of the pieces of Kutani porcelain in the museum are 370 years old.

Apparently the pigments used to create these stunning pieces of porcelain were closely held family secrets. The formulations were only disclosed if a potential student of the highest potential was discovered. A lovely feature of this museum is the care and attention that has been paid as to how these works of art are appreciated.

Several key pieces of Kutani porcelain are shown on their own with walls on each side. This is to allow the visitor to completely immerse themselves in the piece.

Walls so you can appreciate your Kutani

One piece of Kutani porcelain is not under glass but it does have Mission Impossible-style security going on. The porcelain is displayed without glass to allow visitors to really appreciate the amazing depths of the colors.

Several pieces also have mirrors behind them. This allows visitors to see the bottom of the pieces. The bottoms are often also colored and filled with intricate details.

Special chairs were made for the museum which allows visitors to sit comfortably and view beautiful garden areas and be immersed in the overall experience which was just lovely.

The lovely cafe at the Kutani Museum

When I visited there was a temporary exhibition that featured the current living treasures of the Kutani porcelain world. It was fantastic to see this old art being upheld in its techniques but modernised in its interpretations – and also see this craft is still very much alive today. The pieces were just beautiful.

The coffee shop was also a huge highlight. It is located on the first floor of the museum and just beautiful. Coffee and tea are served in Kutani porcelain. Everyone on the table will receive a different Kutani cup, lacquer tray, etc.

The cafe is also a shop with lots of Kutani products that are for sale dotted around the area. This is a lovely museum and a wonderful experience.

16. Natadera Temple

Natadera is a monastery/temple founded in 717 in the middle of a stunning rocky landscape. My visit to Natadera Temple Kaga was a huge Instagram highlight of my trip to this region.

I wasn’t told until we arrived that the temple and its gardens are famous for their autumn leaves. They were absolutely stunning.


The wonderfully named Enchanted Rock Outcropping was just stunning. The rocks look like they have smiles carved into them. The temple itself is very nice – apparently, when you walk through it you are reborn – but nature is the highlight of this temple.

Amazing autumn colours

After you have visited the temple itself don’t miss the Chinjudo observation platform. This provides a view over the entire area and particularly the Enchanted Rock Outcropping and makes for some stunning photos.

I think this stunning temple and its gardens are one of the must go places in Japan

There is also a cute little buddha guy on the way out wearing a red bib. Apparently little buddhas wearing red bibs are throughout Japan as they ward off evil spirits from hurting kids!

Kid friendly buddha

17. Have a Sake Tasting

I knew very little about sake prior to this trip. Sake and rice wine are brewed in completely different ways. The key difference is that grapes have sugar and rice doesn’t so there is an extra step to add flavours.

Taste variations across sake are driven by the yeast types added in this extra step. Enjoying your sake cold, room temperature, warm or hot is possible.

Apparently this is about personal preference rather than recommendation. And sake is best drunk within a year of it being made.

Sake time

I visited the Noguchi Naohiko Sake Institute in Kaga for a sake tasting. It is a beautiful modern building done in Japanese style. The tasting room was beautiful – a clean, modern wooden design with stunning views onto the rice fields which are used to make sake.

Sake is all about great quality water, great air and great rice – which is why mountain areas can be so good for its production and why this region is famous for its sake.

Apparently it takes 70 years for the snow on top of the mountains to melt and head down to where we are and be incorporated into the spring water that goes into the sake.

Sake rice fields

The tasting was so beautifully set up. Each glass was stunning. We were able to try sake cold and hot, 15 days fermented vs 30 days fermented, with different snack products (savoury and sweet) and black label sake which is used for dipping with sweets.

This sake tasting ceremony is based on the traditional Japanese tea ceremony and is great fun. I learned so much about sake and could have kept going.

Hanging with Mr Noguchi himself!

The sake tasting ceremony at Noguchi Naohiko Sake Institute lasts for 90 minutes and costs 5600 yen per person. This was one of the most fun things to do in Kanazawa Japan.

I loved my time in Kanazawa but I was on an organised press tour. Whilst I think the savvy traveller could easily navigate their way around this beautiful country, it could be more relaxing to visit on an organised tour.

How to get to Kanazawa

Kanazawa and the Iskhikawa region are due west and a bit north of Tokyo. Kanazawa is over 400km away from Tokyo, but the bullet train takes only 2 1/2 hours to get from Kanazawa to Tokyo and delivers you to the center of Kanazawa. It is also only 2 hours and 10 minutes by train from Kyoto.

Meet, Greet and Wifi at the Airport
Japan Rail
has a brilliant Meet and Greet service where they will meet you at the airport after arrival and get you going with your rail ticket, Pocket Wifi for Japan and take you to your next mode of transport – so good after a long journey.

Kenrouken Gardens reflections

The closest airport to Kanazawa is Komatsu Airport. Komatsu Airport is 33km south of Kanazawa. It is an international airport with flights from Shanghai, Taipei and Seoul.

The balance of the flights that Komatsu airport receives is from within Japan. If you are heading to Kanazawa from outside of Asia you will likely need to arrive via Tokyo. The flight from Tokyo to Komatsu takes 1 hour and 40 minutes.

Flights to Tokyo

Flights to Kanazawa

If you’re not planning to stop in Tokyo, flying to Kanazawa is most sensible. However, if you are heading to Kanazawa from Tokyo, I think the bullet train is the best option.

The bullet train leaves Tokyo station and arrives at Kanazawa station, which is in the middle of town. The flight between Komatsu and Tokyo is just under one hour. Still, once you add in getting to and from the airport, security etc the bullet train is far more direct and to my mind a tourist experience as it is so fantastic.

The Japan Rail Pass offers amazing value to overseas visitors. The pass covers virtually every train in Japan – including most bullet trains – and costs just USD$270 for 7 days rail travel. 14 and 21-day options are also available. As is a very reasonably priced upgrade to first class. Amazing value for Japan’s excellent trains.

Bullet trains are almost a Japanese travel experience in themselves. They are incredibly spacious with high ceilings and have great legroom. But wow the toilets!!! These are the best toilets I have ever seen on a train.

I love Japanese toilets in general, and these were so clean and high-end – and I was traveling standard class. I don’t know how the Japanese can travel by train anywhere else in the world – they must be horrified.

If you’re planning a short stay in Tokyo don’t miss my post on the Ultimate One Day in Tokyo

Mount Fuji seen from the bullet train

The train route between Tokyo and Kanazawa also offers views of Mount Fuji. I was lucky enough to be traveling on a very clear day and got some fantastic views. However, apparently, this is not normally the case. I just wanted to manage expectations!

How to Get Around Kanazawa and Ishikawa

Kanazawa itself is wonderfully compact. There is a 1km loop that covers many of the main attractions – the city offers a free bus that covers this circuit in summer.

It is also possible to hire local bikes to get around and there are cycling lanes on the roads. The first 30 minutes of bike hire is free of charge, and as most attractions are within a 30-minute cycle, it tends to work out rather cheaply.

Kanazawa also has a bus pass that costs only 500 yen a day and covers the 1km circuit.

The train journey from Kanazawa to the Kaga onsen region takes just 28 minutes on the Thunderbird. The Thunderbird is included in the JR Pass.

⇒ Shirakawago is a great day trip from Kanazawa – check out this great post on How to get from Kanazawa to Shirakawago


When to visit Kanazawa

Kanazawa and the Ishikawa region have four very distinct seasons. I was lucky to visit in November when the region was awash in brightly colored leaves with very blue skies.

Winter brings snow and Ishikawa has some fantastic cherry blossom displays in the spring.


Where to Stay in Kanazawa and around Kanazawa

I stayed at the Crowne Plaza on my visit to Kanazawa. This Kanazawa hotel has a fantastic location literally next door to Kanazawa station. This is a very nice Crowne Plaza.

It is a big modern hotel with everything you could ever need for a stay and a nice mix of western comforts and eastern experiences.

The Crowne Plaza
Breakfast buffet at the Crowne Plaza Kanazawa

My room at The Crowne Plaza Kanazawa was not huge but this is Japan. It was, however, extremely comfortable and quite high-end in terms of fixtures and fittings.

Kanazawa’s Crowne Plaza has an outstanding buffet breakfast – you can make your own eastern/western fusion breakfast. The range of products on offer is huge. There is a Western-style eggs station for omelettes and poached eggs and the coffee came from a high-end machine and was good quality.

Read more reviews of Crowne Plaza Kanazawa on TripAdvisorBook Now

There are several Ryokan hotel options in Kanazawa as well.

⇒ For a classic Ryokan experience check out Kinjoro ⇒ TripAdvisor Book Now

⇒ For a spacious Ryokan experience in Kanazawa check out Ryokusone ⇒ TripAdvisorBook Now

Bedroom at Crowne Plaza Kanazawa

Where to Eat in Kanazawa and around Kanazawa

I had a wonderful lunch at Buemon in the heart of the Kanazawa geisha district. The restaurant was simple but beautifully designed and there was a beautiful Japanese garden.

We were lucky enough to get the table next to the window – definitely the best table in Buemon.

Lovely entrance to Buemon – a great restaurant for your Kanazawa Travel Guide!

Buemon Kanazawa is famous for its soba noodles. There is a choice of buckwheat or plain noodles and cold or hot noodles in a soup. I chose to hot buckwheat noodles in a soup with a mix of seafood and vegetable tempura on the side for dipping which was excellent.

Noodles with a view

Coil is a modern and creative restaurant in the middle of Kanazawa on the top level of a high-end department store (the design and packaging in the department store are also just stunning). It serves classic Japanese food – but delivers it in modern and unexpected ways.

This was all just for me!

The restaurant itself is a stunning modern design and very beautiful. Our meal began with a drawer filled with soups. The soups looked like macarons. I chose a pumpkin flavour, punched a hole in the macaron with a chopstick, and poured in hot water. Delicious.

We ordered the make your own sushi option for our main meal. All the hard work of preparing the sushi rice and beautiful fillings had been done.

These were served with a small chest of drawers. Each drawer contained a piece of seaweed with sushi rice on it. We then chose different fillings, placed them onto the seaweed and sushi rice, and used a bamboo roll to make our own sushi.

The lovely COL restaurant

Coil Kanazawa also serves sake, plum wine and even western wine. This was a very memorable and unique dining experience which I would highly recommend.

If you would like to try local specialties of the Kanazawa area head to Hacchoya, another beautiful and stylish Kanazawa restaurant. I enjoyed a fantastic set lunch which included local yellowtail and tuna, a fantastic local beef recipe and of course miso soup.

A lunch full of local Kanazawa delicacies

Yamana and the other Kaga onsen towns don’t have many restaurants as most people choose to eat in their Ryokan. However, I can imagine if you were spending multiple nights in a ryokan you may long for just a three-course meal.

Enuma station bistro in Yamanaka is french Japanese fusion and just delicious.

Enuma Station restaurant

Enuma station restaurant Yamanaka looks almost nordic in design. It features an open kitchen and a small set menu with a choice of meat or fish. As it is a small kitchen there are two sittings for lunch with the first at 1130.

Delicious pork at Enuma Station

My meal started with sashimi and small spring rolls filled with crab – wow! Then it was onto chestnut soup. I had never eaten chestnut soup and it was delicious.

I then enjoyed pork with radish and onion for my main. If you’re hungry it is possible to have both the pork and the fish mains. All of the above meals were absolutely sensational and so beautifully served – I highly recommend all of them.


Who Paid for What in This Post

My trip to Kanazawa Japan and the Ishikawa prefecture was hosted by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government – thank you. JAL provided a very comfortable return flight and the Tokyo Metropolitan Government covered all of my costs eg meals, accommodation, transport etc.

But as always my views are my own – and can I say I absolutely loved this trip.


This post also contains affiliate links. This means that if you click through on these links and end up making a purchase I will receive a small commission. I just wanted to make sure that you were aware of this.

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images from kanazawa japan
two women in kimonos on a bridge in kanazawa japan
natadera temple kanazawa japan in october
image of kenrouken gardens kanazawa japan
image from lake in kenrouken gardens kanazawa japan

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Janeane Davis

Monday 30th of December 2019

This seems like a great place to visit. I liked the beautiful landscapes. The food looked amazing as well. Photos help a place linger in our hearts longer. These are beautiful.

Tiffany La Forge-Grau

Friday 27th of December 2019

Kanazawa looks like such an amazing place to go and visit! I bet you had a real blast there!`


Friday 27th of December 2019

Great shots and the food looks amazing. We had only been to Tokyo airport but it's a dream of ours to explore Japan someday.

Chef Dennis

Friday 27th of December 2019

I will definitely visit this beautiful place one day! I'm sure I will enjoy and see many wonderful things in here.

Mama Maggie's Kitchen

Friday 27th of December 2019

Oh wow! This place sounds really wonderful! Really worth to visit and have some fun! Thanks for sharing.

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