Kanazawa, which means "marsh of gold," draws its name from an old legend in which a Japanese peasant, digging for potatoes, found flakes of gold in the ground. Today, gold leaf is a major art form synonymous with the city, and even has a designated museum. A City of Crafts and Folk Art, Kanazawa is also known for its intricate kaga-nui embroidery and delicate kutani porcelain, among other handicrafts, making it a shopper's paradise! There's also no shortage of history in this coastal city. Once boasting geisha houses and a labyrinthine samurai village, the city was built around Kanazawa Castle. Fire destroyed all but a few small 16th-century castle structures - namely the elegant Ishikawa Gate and some watchtowers that have become a focus of many a photograph today. Just outside the castle park blooms the enchanting Kenroku-en Garden, one of the Three Great Gardens of Japan, and the home of the country's oldest fountain.
Points of Interest
The "Garden of the Six Sublimities" balances its leafy green tapestry with graceful ponds, streams, waterfalls, bridges and teahouses. No wonder it's considered to be one of Japan's top three gardens.
Walk in the footsteps of samurai, geisha, merchants and lords within an historic district of stunning Edo architecture. Soak up the heady atmosphere in an elegant geisha house or a cozy teahouse.
The architectural surprise of this museum creates a dazzling counterpoint to Kanazawa's traditional soul. The equally intriguing interiors create the perfect backdrop for world-class contemporary art.
Quaint thatch-roofed homes in the historic Gassho "prayer-hands" style reveal a masterful understanding of and harmony with nature. They are beautifully preserved in these UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Beautifully restored residences allow entrée to the mythical world of the Japanese samurai. A visit to the Nomura Samurai House, circa 1770, offers a closer look at how a middle class warrior lived.
The Alpine Route between Tateyama and Kurobe takes you on a life-changing journey through a legendary nature scape. See sacred mountains, "Great Walls of Snow," and breathtaking vistas in all seasons.
Tucked into the lush hills outside Fukui City, this active monastery invites you to commune with nature, wander the beautiful temple grounds and practice meditation guided by a Zen Buddhist master.
Senses awaken amidst the colorful whirl of this vivid fresh food market. Explore covered streets brimming with hundreds of shops and stalls showcasing Kanazawa's excellent local seafood and produce.