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日本をめぐる旅〜城下町、金沢

Explore Japan – Kanazawa, the castle town

Kanazawa is located in the center of Ishikawa prefecture. It is a castle town that retains the remnants of a prestigious past and gives you a feeling of old Japan. The traditional culture inherited from the Edo period is still alive. With the opening of the Hokuriku Shinkansen to Kanazawa in 2015, the number of domestic and foreign tourists soared. Let's take a closer look at the charm of Kanazawa, which once prospered as Kaga Hyakumangoku.

 

History of Kanazawa

The history of Kanazawa began with the construction of Kanazawa Mido by the Jodo Shinshu sect during the Warring States period. It was nothing more than Jinaicho, a community around a temple. In 1580, Morimasa Sakuma, a warlord of Nobunaga Oda's army, captured Kanazawa Mido and built Kanazawa Castle, but in 1583 "Battle of Shizugatake" Sakuma was defeated by Hideyoshi Hashiba (later Hideyoshi Toyotomi) and was sentenced to death. Hideyoshi gave Kanazawa Castle to Toshiie Maeda. This is the root of the birth of the Kaga domain (Kanazawa domain).

When Toshiie Maeda, the first feudal lord of the Kaga domain, entered Kanazawa Castle, full-scale castle construction was carried out, laying the foundation of the castle town. During the time of Toshinaga, the second feudal lord, he expanded his territory to Noto and Etchu, and developed into a large domain called "Kaga Hyakumangoku." "Goku" is a unit of rice production equivalent to about 150 kg. The Kaga domain produced rice one million times of that.

The Maeda clan was very much involved in both cultural and military fields, generously supported the development of culture, traditional crafts, and performing arts. As a samurai manner, they encouraged the tea ceremony and focused on collecting arts and crafts. In addition, they invited top artists and master craftsmen from Kyoto and Edo to guide local craftsmen to establish the technique. As a result, various cultures such as Kanazawa golden foil, Kaga Yuzen, Kutani porcelain, and Kanazawa lacquer ware blossomed in Kanazawa. A variety of traditional crafts are still handed down.

 

Recommended sightseeing spots in Kanazawa

Kenrokuen

It is a typical Chisen-kaiyu garden (or “stroll garden”), a well-known form of Japanese garden design, of the Edo period and covers an area of about 11.7 hectares. Along with Kairakuen in Mito and Korakuen in Okayama, it is one of the three great gardens of Japan and is designated as a National Special Place of Scenic Beauty. Every season offers a different scenery and its beauty can be enjoyed all around the year.

Higashi Chaya District

Originally it was a red-light district set up by the Kaga domain during the Edo period, but it has evolved into a prestigious teahouse district. Surrounded by the stone pavement and townhouses with grids on both sides of the streets, the old-fashioned castle townscape still remains. It is one of the best tourist spots in Kanazawa and is crowded with many tourists.

Nomura Clan Samurai House

The ruins of the residence of Denbei Nobuyoshi Nomura, a senior vassal of the Kaga domain. The highlights are the Katana swords and armor of the Nomura clan, and the painted Fusuma (sliding panels) by the painter of the Kaga domain. There is a tea room on the 2nd floor where you can enjoy matcha tea and sweets while looking over the beautiful garden.

Kanazawa Castle Park

The park was created by maintaining the ruins of the Maeda clan's castle in the Kaga domain, and the highlights are the restored Gojukken Nagaya storehouse and the Hishi Yagura and Hashizumemon Tsuruga towers. It features a beautiful appearance such as white plaster and a white tiled roof.

Myoryuji Temple (Ninja Temple)

It was founded by the order of Toshitsune Maeda, the third feudal lord. It is called Ninja Temple because it has various devices to protect itself from enemies, such as pits and hidden doors.

 

Experience the cultures

In Kanazawa, you can experience various traditional cultures. If you have visited Kanazawa, why not give it a try?

Golden foil pasting

Kanazawa golden foil represents a 99% share of that produced nationwide. You can have a "gold leaf pasting experience", applying the golden foil to your favorite items such as small boxes and hand mirrors.

Making Japanese sweets

How about making beautiful namagashi and rakugan sweets in Kanazawa, in one of the top three cities in Japan known for their confectionery? Even beginners can enjoy it as the confectioner will teach you carefully.

Yuzen dyeing

We also recommend the Kaga Yuzen dyeing experience, which features blurring. You can dye handkerchiefs, bags, pouches, etc. in any design you like.

 

Many historical heritage sites and quaint townscapes still remain in the town of Kanazawa, which attracts visitors. Why don't you take a leisurely stroll through the castle town and feel the atmosphere of the ancient city. We hope you will enjoy the unique manufacturing experience of Kanazawa, such as pasting golden foil and making Japanese sweets.

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