Kanazawa, Japan: Best 2 Days 1 Night Itinerary In The Charming City

Kanazawa, Japan: Best 2 Days 1 Night Itinerary In The Charming City
| 7 min read

Japan is more than just about popular tourist destinations such as Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka. If you have already been to these major cities in the country, why not check out hidden gems like Kanazawa? Located in central Honshu (Japan mainland), Kanazawa is the capital of Ishikawa Prefecture. Since the Shinkansen expanded its route to connect Kanazawa from both Tokyo Station and Ueno Station, this excellently preserved Edo-period city has gained traction rapidly on foreign media.

As a destination rich in traditional culture and history, it has earned itself a reputation as “little Kyoto” locally. If you love Kyoto, you should explore Kanazawa too! This article will provide you with the best 2 days 1 night itinerary to follow for a great tour in gorgeous Kanazawa!

Map Location

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Day 1

For your first day in Kanazawa, let’s focus on exploring noteworthy spots to the west of the city centre’s Kanazawa Castle. If you are travelling to Kanazawa from Tokyo via JR Hokuriku Shinkansen, you will arrive at Kanazawa Station in about 2.5 to 3 hours. Thereafter, the city centre is a short 10-minute bus ride from the station.

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Morning : Get a glimpse of the locals’ way of life at Omicho Market

The best way to understand more about lives of the locals is to explore its market. Upon arrival at Kanazawa Station, you should make your way to Omicho Market (近江町市場) to do just that, as well as have a satisfying local meal. As Kanazawa’s largest fresh food market since the Edo Period, Omicho is busy and vibrant, especially in the morning. Lined by about 200 shops and stalls, many of which specialise in fresh seafood and produce, you can also find a variety of products such as clothing, flowers and groceries on sale here. Most of the restaurants in the market get really crowded during lunch hours, so it is advisable to check out popular restaurants for a late morning breakfast or brunch. Tuck into a scrumptious seafood rice bowl to charge up all the energy you need to explore the city!

So you love local markets and wish to stay as close as possible for the convenience? Then staying at ANA Holiday Inn Kanazawa Sky may just be the perfect choice for you, as it is just across from Omicho Market.

Omicho Market (近江町市場)

Address: 50 Kamiomi-cho, Kanazawa City, Ishikawa Prefecture

Price: Free.

Opening Hours: shop hours vary, but generally open from 9am to 6pm. Shop closing days vary, but many shops are closed on Sundays, national holidays or Wednesdays. Market is closed during the New Year holidays from 1 to 4 January.

Duration: around 1.5 hours required.

Access: 15-minute walk from Kanazawa Station; or short bus ride from Kanazawa Station east exit to Musashigatsuji bus stop, which is just in front of Omicho Market.

Contact: +81 76-231-1462

Omicho Market (Japanese only)

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After breakfast: Immerse in the beauty of the city’s important cultural asset - Kanazawa Castle

Kanazawa Castle park 金沢城
Source: Photo by user Tomoaki INABA used under CC BY-SA 2.0

After a tour of the lively Omicho Market, enter Kanazawa’s important cultural asset, the Kanazawa Castle via Kuromon Gate. The castle was the seat of one of the most powerful feudal lords, Maeda Toshiie, from 1583 to the end of the Edo Period. Burnt down several times over the centuries, only two storehouses and the Ishikawa-mon Gate facing the Kenrokuen Garden survived. Most parts of the castle compounds have been reconstructed since the restoration project in the early 1990s began. The Gojukken Nagaya Storehouse connecting the two turrets were reconstructed to their original 1850s appearance using traditional techniques and materials, so it is worth checking out the superb carpentry works here. Immerse yourself in the beauty of traditional architecture and garden as you explore the large castle compounds.

Kanazawa Castle (金沢城)

Address: 1-1, Marunouchi, Kanazawa City, Ishikawa Prefecture

Price: Free admission to castle grounds, 310 JPY (2.70 USD) to the Gojukken Nagaya Storehouse and Turrets.

Opening Hours: 7 am to 6 pm (March 1 to October 15); 8 am to 5 pm (October 16 through February).

Duration: around 2 hours required.

Access: Enter via the Kuromon Gate near Omicho Market.

Contact: +81 76-234-3800

Kanazawa Castle (金沢城)

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Check out the uniquely designed Oyama Shrine

Source: Photo by user Kentaro Ohno used under CC BY 2.0

As you leave Kanazawa Castle via Kuromon Gate towards the popular Korinbo shopping district, drop by Oyama Shrine (尾山神社). The shrine is famous for its unusual gate with an East-meets-West religious theme designed by a Dutch architect. As an important cultural property of Japan, it is also worth taking a closer look at the shrine building with an unconventional design. Its first storey displays a mix of Japanese and Chinese influence, while the upper storeys once served as a lighthouse and feature a Dutch-style stained glass window.

Oyama Shrine (尾山神社)

Address: 11-1 Oyama-machi, Kanazawa, Ishikawa Prefecture

Price: Free.

Opening Hours: Always open.

Duration: around 30 minutes required.

Access: 3-minute walk from Hokutetsu Bus Minamicho Station.

Contact: +81 76-231-7210

Oyama Shrine (Japanese only)

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Lunch time : Enjoy great dining and shopping around Korinbo and Kata-machi area

Time to return to the modern world after visiting two important historical sights in Kanazawa. Head to the famous Korinbo and Kata-machi area in the region, which is popular with shoppers especially during holiday season. Shopaholics will be delighted with the sheer number of brand stores and large shopping malls like Korinbo Daiwa and Korinbo Atrio in Korinbo district, as well as trendy fashion stores in Tate-machi and Kakinokibatake. Along Kata-machi and Kigura-machi, you can take your pick from the numerous cafes and restaurants to cure your hunger pangs.

Korinbo Shopping District - Korinbo Daiwa

Address: 1-1-1 Korinbo, Kanazawa, Ishikawa Prefecture

Price: Free.

Opening Hours: 10am to 7.30pm.

Duration: around 1.5 hours required.

Access: short walk from Korinbo (Atrio-mae) bus stop.

Contact: +81 76-220-1111

Korinbo Daiwa

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After lunch: Roam the historic samurai district in Nagamachi Bukeyashiki

Nagamachi Buke yashiki District_06
Source: Photo by user ajari used under CC BY 2.0

During the Edo Period, the middle and upper class warriors were known as the Japanese samurai. Together with their families, the samurais used to live in the area at the foot of the former Kanazawa Castle. The samurai residence district, Nagamachi Bukeyashiki (長町), is well-preserved, evoking a nostalgic ambience with the remaining samurai houses, earthen walls, private entrance gates, narrow lanes and water canals. As you soak in the historic atmosphere of the area, don’t forget to check out two famous attractions of stark contrast to each other. The centrally located Nomura-ke is a restored samurai residence displaying the lifestyle and artifacts when samurai were prosperous, while the Shinise Kinenkan Museum is a restored pharmacy displaying the prospering life of the merchant class following the decline of the samurai.

Nagamachi Bukeyashiki

Address: 1 Chome-3-32 Nagamachi, Kanazawa City, Ishikawa Prefecture

Price: 550 JPY (4.80 USD) for Nomura-ke, 100 JPY (0.90 USD) for Shinise Kinenkan Museum.

Opening Hours: Hours vary depending on attractions. Generally open from 9 am - 5 pm. Please refer to official websites for specific opening hours.

Duration: around 1.5 hours required.

Access: 5-minute walk south of Korinbo (Nichigin-mae) bus stop.

Nomura-ke; Shinise Kinenkan Museum

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Before sunset : Discover the amazing designs of the famous Ninja Temple

Built in 1585 by the Lord Maeda Toshiie as a place of worship during the Edo Period, Ninja Temple, or Myoryuji Temple, is a fascinating piece of ancient art. The temple is not related to the ninja (warrior), but earned its nickname because of its many deceptive defences to guard against intruders or attacks. There are numerous hidden tunnels, secret rooms, traps, and a maze of corridors and staircases within the temple grounds, which you can view via a Japanese guided tour. Have fun discovering the amazingly designed ancient temple!

After the tour, you can either return to your accommodation to rest or revisit the Korinbo and Kata-machi area for more shopping and food in the evening.

Ninja Temple/ Myoryuji Temple (妙立寺)

Address: 1-2-12 Nomachi, Kanazawa City, Ishikawa Prefecture

Price: 1,000 JPY (8.80 USD).

Opening Hours: 9am to 4.30pm (till 4 pm during winter) daily except January 1 and infrequent irregular closures.

Duration: Guided tour takes around 40 minutes.

Access: 5-minute walk from the Hirokoji stop on the Kanazawa Loop Bus.

Contact: +81 76-241-0888

Ninja Temple

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Day 2

The following day, let’s explore the east of the city centre. Scenic natural landscapes, filled with rich cultural and artistic atmosphere await you!

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Before breakfast : Understand what makes a Great Garden at Kenrokuen Garden

Built during the Edo Period by the ruling Maeda family, the Kenrokuen Garden (兼六園) is a must-visit when you are in Kanazawa. The name Kenrokuen means “Garden of the Six Sublimities”, referring to spaciousness, seclusion, artificiality, antiquity, abundant water and broad views. These six important attributes make up a perfect garden, and you must take a stroll in the spacious garden to witness it for yourself.

There are plenty of instagram-worthy spots in this beautiful garden. Look out for the iconic Kotojitoro Lantern that is built with two legs instead of one, standing at the northern bank of Kasumigaike Pond. Check out one of Japan’s oldest fountain below Kasumigaike Pond with water shooting out 3.5 metres high. Furthermore, the wide variety of flowering trees provide the garden with a different look every season. You will understand why it is one of the Great Three Gardens of Japan once you have visited Kenrokuen Garden!

Kenrokuen Garden (兼六園)

Address: 1-2-12 Nomachi, Kanazawa, Ishikawa Prefecture

Price: 310 JPY (2.70 USD). Free during early admission hours.

Opening Hours: Regular Hours: 7 am to 6 pm (March to October 15); 8 am to 5 pm (October 16 to February) Early Admission Hours: From 5 am (April to August from 4 am, November to February from 6 am); Early admission visitors must exit the garden before the start of regular hours.

Duration: around 2 hours required.

Access: short walk from the Kenrokuen-shita bus stop.

Contact: +81 76-234-3800

Kenrokuen Garden (兼六園)

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After breakfast : Marvel at the creative art exhibits at the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art

Source: Photo by user 淳平 筈井 used under CC BY-ND 2.0

Just a few steps away from Kenrokuen is one of the most popular art museums in Japan, the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art (金沢21世紀美術館). Enter the world of modern art right after the pleasant stroll in the traditional Japanese garden. If you notice, there is no main entrance at this museum, and it is exactly this deliberate design of a circular museum structure that makes it stand out from other museums and buildings around Kanazawa. Take your time to appreciate the creative works of acclaimed contemporary artists locally and internationally and soak in its artistic feel.

Around the museum, there are many nice restaurants where you can have a good lunch and take a breather. Read also: What To Eat In Kanazawa!? : Top 12 Eats In The City.

21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa

Address: 1-2-1 Hirosaka, Kanazawa City, Ishikawa Prefecture

Price: Varies by exhibition, typically 1,000 JPY (8.80 USD).

Opening Hours: Exhibition Zone 10 am - 6 pm (Open till 8 pm on Fridays & Saturdays) Public Zone 9 am - 10 pm. Closed on Mondays (or Tuesday if Monday is a national holiday), December 27 to January 1.

Duration: around 2 hours required.

Access: 1-minute walk from the Hirosaka bus stop.

Contact: +81 76-220-2800

21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa

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Under the day light : Seek some respite from the busy city life at D.T. Suzuki Museum

Source: Photo by user shin kawamura used under CC BY 2.0

Just a short walk down the street from the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, you will find the small D.T. Suzuki Museum (鈴木大拙館, Suzuki Daisetsu Kan) with a simple design. It was opened in 2011 to commemorate the life and works of Suzuki Daisetz Teitaro (1870-1966), a prominent Buddhist philosopher. Adopting the Japanese Zen philosophy that Mr. Suzuki believed in, you will feel especially peaceful in such clean and tranquil surroundings. It is a great place to seek some respite from the typical hectic city life that we are all too familiar with!

D.T. Suzuki Museum (鈴木大拙館, Suzuki Daisetsu Kan)

Address: 3-4-20 Honda-machi, Kanazawa, Ishikawa Prefecture

Price: 300 JPY (2.65 USD).

Opening Hours: 9 am to 5 pm. Closed on Mondays (or Tuesdays if Monday is a Public Holiday) and 29 December to 3 January.

Duration: around 1 hour required.

Access: 5-minute walk from the Hondamachi bus stop.

Contact: +81 76-221-8011

D.T. Suzuki Museum

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Afternoon Stroll : Experience Edo-style entertainment in the Higashi Chaya District

Higashi Chaya district, Kanazawa (3810704024)
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Andrea Schaffer used under CC BY 2.0

Finally, you must not miss a visit to the Higashi Chaya District (東茶屋街), the largest and most interesting chaya district in Kanazawa. A chaya, which means teahouse to the locals, is an exclusive type of restaurant where geisha entertain guests with traditional songs and dance during the Edo Period. Visit the Kaikaro Teahouse to experience exclusive entertainment of the bygone era. Enjoy an exceptional cafe-hopping experience along the central street. Understand more about the teahouse heritage at the Shima Teahouse which has been converted into a museum. Or satisfy the shopaholic in you at the Hakuza Gold Leaf Store selling the Kanazawa local specialty - gold leaf products.

Kanazawa Higashi Chaya District (東茶屋街)

Address: 1 Chome Higashiyama, Kanazawa City, Ishikawa Prefecture

Price: 500 JPY (4.40 USD) for Shima Teahouse, and 750 JPY (6.60 USD) for Kaikaro Teahouse.

Opening Hours: shop hours vary, but generally opens from around 9 am to 6 pm.

Duration: around 2 hours required.

Access: 5-minute walk from the Hashibacho (Koban-mae) stop on the Kanazawa Loop Bus.

Contact: +81 76-220-2194

Shima Teahouse; Kaikaro Teahouse (Japanese only); Hakuza Gold Leaf Store

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A splendid city tour in “little Kyoto”

Kanazawa is a great destination to explore, particularly if you are into culture and arts. The above 2 days 1 night itinerary only covers the highlights of the charming city. So do consider spending more time in the alluring “little Kyoto” to be able to relax and immerse fully in the artistic and serene vibes of the city. Happy holidays!

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Any must-sees we missed? Tell us about them in the comments section or write a post here to help out fellow travelers!
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Rachel has forgotten when and exactly how she caught the travel bug. What she does remember is the triumphant feeling she enjoys when she sees the fascinating world out there with her own eyes. She...Read more

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