3. Kanazawa: Samurai, Matcha, Gardens and Geisha Full-Day Tour
Join a guided tour to explore the historical attractions of Kanazawa, including well-preserved Edo-era districts, restored residences, feudal-era tea houses, and a partially restored castle with a garden. Get plenty of time to explore the markets and grab a bite on the way. Start the tour by meeting your guide at Kanazawa Station. As soon as you leave the station building, the first sight will be immediately visible to you. See Tsuzumi-mon gate, a modern take on a traditional building style and a new symbol of Kanazawa. Walk towards the Nagamachi Samurai District using a side street lined with local residences and the occasional wooden temple. Reach a small neighborhood with houses that once belonged to low-ranking Samurai. Get a chance to enter these houses and see how Samurai of modest means lived their lives. Afterward, enter the Nagamachi Samurai District and walk down its crooked main street. With free time to explore on your own, buy local Kanazawa crafts and wares. Next up is Oyama Shrine, combining both Japanese and Western elements in a fusion that reflects the history of Japan in the 19th century. Head to the back of this shrine to explore a koi pond and a small garden, as well as a path that leads to a big wooden bridge. Cross this bridge before passing through an impressive gate to enter the Kanazawa Castle grounds. Take a well-deserved break at the Gyokusen-an tea house with views over a fabulous garden at the base of some of the castle’s enormous stone walls. Admire the purely Japanese interior of the tea house with unparalleled elegance and refinement. Treat yourself to matcha and artistic “Wagashi” sweets served by kimono-clad staff, while the guide shows you the proper way to drink matcha. Refreshed and ready to continue, head through the Kanazawa Castle grounds before crossing over to the entrance to the Kenroku-en garden. Enjoy free time for lunch with restaurant recommendations from your guide. After your break, follow your guide into the Kenroku-en garden, often listed as one of the best gardens in Japan. Learn how it was designed and created over 200 years ago on the order of the Lord of Kanazawa Castle. Continue to the famous Higashi-chaya Tea District, the symbol of Kanazawa and perhaps the most famous tea district in Japan outside of Kyoto. Stroll through streets lined with tall, 2-story wooden tea houses, some of which are painted red – a unique design feature to be found only in Kanazawa. Leaving Higashi-chaya, start the return trip back to the station, passing through the maze-like backstreets of Kazue-machi along the way.