Kanazawa – the capital of Ishikawa Prefecture is known as one of the most beautiful cities in Japan. Kanazawa is less known in Japan than Tokyo, Osaka or Kyoto but once you came here, you will definitely love this land. Ancient streets, poetic natural scenes attract tourists from the first sight. Kanazawa also has many ancient castles and sacred temples with hundreds of years of age, beautiful parks, and attractive hot springs. So, is Kanazawa worth visiting? Let’s discover one of the beautiful ancient towns and top destinations in Japan through our Kanazawa travel blog (Kanazawa blog) with the fullest Kanazawa travel guide for a wonderful trip to Kanazawa for the first time from how to get there, best time to visit, and top things to do … to find out the answer!
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Kanazawa is located on the coast of Japan Sea, bordering the Japanese Alps, Hakusan National Park and Noto Peninsula National Park. Kanazawa city center is located between Saigawa River and Asanogawa River. Coming to Kanazawa, you are lost in an ancient world with many wooden houses along the two roadside, and the people walking calmly and gently. Going to Kanazawa city center, you will admire the ancient beauty of Kanazawa castle, that beauty does not seem to be lost in time. Located outside the gate of the castle is Kenroku-en garden that adorns the beauty here.
Kanazawa has an area of about 468.6 square kilometers, showing up with ancient beauty with built wooden houses dating to tens, hundreds of years. The calm and gentle beauty has not been eroded over time.
Kanazawa is famous for its rich cultural traditions, especially tea culture. Also, traditional handicrafts such as Kutaniyaki pottery or Wajima lacquer are equally famous. Ishikawa Prefectural Museum of Traditional Arts and Crafts is a place where displays all 36 types of handicrafts of Ishikawa Prefecture are recognized by the state.
Kanazawa blog: When is the best time to visit?
Kanazawa has mild weather even though there is a lot of rain all year round. The average temperature is usually slightly lower than Tokyo because it is near the sea. January average temperature is approximately 4 degrees Celsius, April is about 15 degrees Celsius, 25 degrees Celsius in July and August, 15 degrees Celsius in October, and 5 degrees Celsius in December. So, the best time to travel to Kanazawa will be in the Spring (from March to May). Visitors come to Kanazawa in this season will be opportunity to participate in many unique festivals both traditional and modern such as Cherry Blossom Festival at Kenrokuen Garden.
In addition, you can come here in the autumn with yellow and red maple leaves, admire a transformed Kanazawa with a new appearance.
Kanazawa travel blog: How to get to and around Kanazawa?
Kanazawa is a small town located in the westernmost part of central Japan. Kanazawa has no airport, so to getting to Kanazawa you must fly to the nearest airport located in Komasu city, about 32km from Kanazawa (about 42 minutes drive). Kanazawa is more than 8 hours drive from Tokyo and 4-6 hours from Osaka and Nagoya (Tokyo, Nagoya, Osaka are places where there are many direct flights from major cities in the world). Perhaps because Kanazawa is difficult to reach, it is quite strange for international visitors.
From Tokyo: Before, if you wanted to go to Kanazawa city, tourists had to travel by train or plane. But now, the new Hokuriku Shinkansen high-speed train connecting Tokyo with the ancient city of Kanazawa will shorten the travel time between the two places to 2 hours and 28 minutes. You also can use JR Pass to save travel costs. You can check the schedule and tickets of Shinkansen from Tokyo to Kanazawa here.
From Osaka or Kyoto: In addition, you can getting to Kanazawa from Osaka (It takes 2 hours 30 minutes) and Kyoto (about 2 hours) with Thunderbird of JR West, a limited train runs between Osaka and Kanazawa via Kyoto. You also can use JR Pass to save travel costs. Check the schedule and tickets here.
From Kanazawa Station you can go to the attractions by tram, taxi or bus. There are inner city bus routes running around popular attractions, so traveling is very convenient. These are bus routes of Kanazawa Loop Bus (Right Loop, Left Loop, runs every 15 minutes), Kenrokuen Shuttle (runs every 20 minutes) and Hokutetsu Local Bus. Details you can see here.
In addition, if you travel a lot and want to save more when traveling by bus, you should buy a day ticket (Hokutetsu One Day Pass). With this ticket there is no limited on the number of moves, validate for all kinds of buses for 500 yen/day for adults and 250 yen/day for children. You can buy it at the ticket bus counter as below. Find out more here.
Kanazawa travel guide: Where to stay?
Below we recommend some best cheap, budget, mid-range and upscale hotels in Kanazawa with good ratings and reviews you can refer to.
Daiwa Roynet Hotel Kanazawa (Address: 2-20 Horikawashinmachi, Kanazawa, Ishikawa 920-0849, Japan / Phone: +81 76-224-7755), a top rated 3-star hotel with room rates from $42/night. (Check rates and reviews on Agoda.com or Booking.com).
HOTEL MYSTAYS PREMIER Kanazawa (Address: 2 Chome-13-5 Hirooka, Kanazawa, Ishikawa 920-0031, Japan / Phone: +81 76-290-5255), a 4-star hotel with room rates from $55/night. (Check rates and reviews on Agoda.com or Booking.com).
Hotel Nikko Kanazawa (Address: 2 Chome-15-1 Honmachi, Kanazawa, Ishikawa 920-0853, Japan / Phone: +81 76-234-1111), a top rated 4-star hotel with room rates from $111/night. (Check rates and reviews on Agoda.com or Booking.com).
Dormy Inn Kanazawa (Address: 2-25 Horikawashinmachi, Kanazawa, Ishikawa 920-0849, Japan / Phone: +81 76-263-9888), a top rated 3-star hotel with room rates from $42/night. (Check rates and reviews on Agoda.com or Booking.com).
HOTEL MYSTAYS Kanazawa Castle (Address: 10-17 Konohanamachi, Kanazawa, Ishikawa 920-0852, Japan / Phone: +81 76-223-6300), a top rated 3-star hotel with room rates from $39/night. (Check rates and reviews on Agoda.com or Booking.com).
Hotel Trusty Kanazawa Korinbou (Address: 1 Chome-2-16 Korinbo, Kanazawa, Ishikawa 920-0961, Japan / Phone: +81 76-203-8112), a top rated 4-star hotel with room rates from $58/night. (Check rates and reviews on Agoda.com or Booking.com).
Kanazawa Saino Niwa Hotel (Address: 2 Chome-4-8 Nagata, Kanazawa, Ishikawa 920-0043, Japan / Phone: +81 76-235-5111), a top rated 4-star hotel with room rates from $58/night. (Check rates and reviews on Agoda.com or Booking.com).
Emblem Stay Kanazawa (Address: 1 Chome-2-8 Owaricho, Kanazawa, Ishikawa 920-0902, Japan), a top rated 2-star hotel with room rates from $19/night. (Check rates and reviews on Agoda.com or Booking.com).
Hotel Pacific Kanazawa (Address: 46 Jikkenmachi, Kanazawa, Ishikawa 920-0906, Japan / Phone: +81 76-264-3201), a top rated 2-star hotel with room rates from $45/night. (Check rates and reviews on Agoda.com or Booking.com).
Kanazawa Hakuchoro Hotel Sanraku (Address: 6-3 Marunouchi, Kanazawa, Kanazawa, Japan, 920-0937), a top rated 4-star hotel with room rates from $109/night. (Check rates and reviews on Agoda.com or Booking.com).
Hotel Resol Trinity Kanazawa (Address: 1-1-18 Musashimachi, Kanazawa, Ishikawa 920-0855, Japan / Phone: +81 76-221-9269), a top rated 3-star hotel with room rates from $47/night. (Check rates and reviews on Agoda.com or Booking.com).
–> Airbnb link discounts up to $35 for the first booking here: https://www.airbnb.com/c/anht5185
Kanazawa travel blog: What to do?
Not striking with modern beauty, there are no skyscrapers, but Kanazawa still attracts tourists by its own beauty. Let’s discover the top places to visit and top things to do in Kanazawa below to not regret when traveling to this beautiful ancient city.
Kenroku-en Garden is the first place not to be missed when you travel to Kanazawa. Kenroku-en Garden is one of the three most famous and large gardens of Japan’s top gardening art (the other two gardens are Koraku-en in Okayama and Kairaku-en in Mito). The name of the garden itself expresses its special: Kenroku-en means “garden made up of 6 elements”, that are: vastness, tranquility, reverence, elegance in design, perfection in natural scenery and refreshment.
Kenrokuen is the most important area of Kanazawa. It was originally built as a garden outside the castle. It was built in 1676, and it took 180 years to complete and open to the public since 1875. In the garden there are many beautiful scenes such as Kotoji-toro stone lantern, Ganko-bashi bridge, Lake Kasumiga … Visitors can admire the beautiful scenery all year round.
Kenrokuen garden with lots of trees, plants, many lakes, streams and flowers spread over an area of 100.000 square meters. If spring is the ecstasy with cherry blossoms, summer is the brilliance with iris flower, autumn is the enchantment with red and yellow maple leaves, winter is the vibration with Yukitsuri (snow suspenders) conical straw rope towers that are erected to protect pine trees from snow falling, but create a wonderful beauty from nature.
When you arrive here, you can immediately feel the fresh air, which is impossible to find in a bustling and crowded city. Everything like sinking into silence gives you a strange feeling of peace. Spend your time to enjoy the beauty of the waterfalls, fish ponds, grass.. and walk on the stone bridges because it will be difficult to get this special feeling when you come back to life.
Address: 1 Kenrokumachi, Kanazawa, Ishikawa 920-0936, Japan
Phone: +81 76-234-3800
Hours: 7am – 6pm
Admission: 310 yen
The first place you set foot in is the Kanazawa station. Kanazawa Station has a wooden structure, which can be considered as the most unique modern station of Japan. With Tsuzumi-mon Gate (“Tsuzumi” is a traditional Japanese wooden drum while “mon” means gate.) and Motenashi Dome in the back, voted as the most beautiful architecture in the top 14 stations in the world by TravelandLeisure travel magazine.
What is special about Kanazawa Station is the giant glass dome called Motenashi Dome. It is not so much when we call Kanazawa is the land of rain because the rainy season lasts all year. For this reason Motenashi Dome was built in the shape of an umbrella. Kanazawa people often say that Motenashi umbrella is a symbol of hospitality of the locals here.
At this station you can also find many utilities such as money exchange service, Tourist Information Counter, convenience store, ATMs, post office .. In the western side of the station is a garden.
Address: Japan, 〒920-0858 Ishikawa, Kanazawa, Kinoshinbomachi, 1番1号
Opened: April 1, 1898
Phone: +81 570-002-486
Right next to Kenrokuen Garden is the ancient castle of Kanazawa. The castle is located at the top of Hirayam Mountain, built in 1583 during the Azuchi-Momoyama era and for centuries it has become the feudal Maeda Clan headquarters. It is full of historical evidence and becomes an attractive tourist attraction in Kanazawa.
Kanazawa Castle of Warlord Maeda Toshiie is still considered the ancient castle of Japan even though the castle was restored after a big fire. Ishikawamon Gate and Sanjikken Nagaya – a 50-meter-wide house, has been designated as Japan’s cultural property. This place was used as a base of the Japanese army then the campus of the university and opened to the public in 1996.