Two Days in Kanazawa Itinerary
The Japanese city of Kanazawa is located only a few hours north-west from Tokyo, similar distance north-east of Osaka and is an awesome place to include in your Japan itinerary. It will work particularly well if you do this as a two-day trip from Tokyo or as a stopover (say from Tokyo to Nagoya, Kyoto or Osaka or vice versa).
Back in time when samurai government ruled the country, Kanazawa was home to a powerful Maeda clan which contributed greatly to growth and development of this city. It is known that this clan incentivised wealthy samurais, artisans and merchants in order to encourage them to settle in Kanazawa. This led to Kanazawa growing from a small town to a great city and becoming a cultural centre where arts and crafts flourished.
As a result even today Kanazawa is a popular tourist destination. It is known for its fresh fish (and great sushi and sashimi!), traditional crafts and authentic districts with well-preserved architecture. We have had the pleasure to stay with a local couch surfer who helped us come up with this awesome two day itinerary.
Two-Day Kanazawa Itinerary – Day 1
Before starting with the itinerary I suggest you check out the massive Drum Gate just outside the main (east) exit of Kanazawa train station. We completely missed it the first time and only noticed the structure before our departure. Also, if you continue walking east you will also see a very special clock which uses small jets of water to tell the time. I have never seen anything like this before!
And now to the itinerary.
@ Check-in to your hotel
We stayed at The Share Hotels – Hatchi Kanazawa which was a pleasant and extremely tidy budget hostel, a short (free with JR pass) JR bus ride away from the train station. It had a fully equipped shared kitchen, a fancy looking café inside and was conveniently located. Geisha district was only across the bridge (5min away on foot) and walking to Omicho market took us less than 10min.
@ Have late lunch at Omicho market
If you are looking for fresh fish, Omicho market is the place to be. We ate at a conveyor-belt type sushi restaurant (called Mori Mori Sushi Omicho) inside the market but there are plenty of other places to choose from.
@ Explore Kenroku-en gardens (entrance fee 310 ¥)
Only 15min away on foot from Omicho market you will find one of the three “perfect gardens” of Japan – Kenroku-en. The gardens are stunning and you can easily spend several hours here. If you have extra time you can move on to Kanazawa Castle Park which is literally next door.
@ Have Dinner at Kourin Sushi
This is the current Tripadvisor #1 for eating out in Kanazawa and conveniently on the way back to the hotel. Make sure you book a slot in advance as they might not accept walk-ins.
Two-Day Kanazawa Itinerary – Day 2
Make sure you get up early and grab something to eat before venturing out again. We did not try the breakfast at the hotel (it seemed a little expensive), but the menu looked tempting.
@ Visit Higashi Chaya Geisha District
As mentioned before, this one is just across the bridge so you won’t be wasting time on buses. This district is full of old tea houses and cafes and is perfect for a relaxing morning stroll. Those who want to find out more about life of the geisha should visit Ochaya Shima Geisha House which used to be a geisha tea house but has been converted to a museum open to visitors.
@ Have Lunch at Menyataiga Ramen
The full address of Menyataiga Ramen is 6-3 Horikawamachi, Kanazawa, Ishikawa 920-0847, Japan. It serves great ramen, a close second best we tried in Japan after Ichiran Ramen which unfortunately is not available in Kanazawa. Walking to Menyataiga from Higashi Chaya district would take around 20 minutes. If that is too far you might want to take a free JR bus to the train station and walk the rest.
Another option would be to hire a bicycle. Our couch surfing host let us use his bikes and it really helped speed things up. The most useful post about bike rental can be found here.
@ Visit Samurai District and Nomura Samurai House (entrance fee 550 ¥)
After lunch head to Nomura Samurai House to see a typical samurai dwelling. I personally thought it was a little expensive for what you get (as you just walk yourself around the house) but it was still quite interesting to see a samurai house once.
If you still have time in the evening you can visit a Ninja Temple (Myouyuji) which can be found just across Sai River. Apparently it is full of hidden corridors and traps. Our host told us that tours are worth the money (1000 ¥ per person) but we decided to skip it this time. We were also told tours need to be booked in advance to guarantee admission.
@ Departure from Kanazawa Train Station
Assuming you are making good use of your JR pass you will most probably be departing from Kanazawa Train Station. To get there you will have to either walk for about 40minutes or take a bus which costs 200 ¥. There are restaurants inside the train station so there will be an option to have dinner before catching a train.
Of course, there are many other interesting places to visit in Kanazawa such as 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art or D.T. Suzuki Museum which you might be able to slot into this two day Kanazawa Itinerary. However, our own experience taught us that less rushing means more enjoyment.
We wish you all the best and we hope you enjoy Kanazawa!