Situated amidst the beautiful Hokuriku region, Kanazawa is among the most charming and exquisitely preserved historical cities in Japan. Often referred to as “Little Kyoto,” Kanazawa’s facade stands out as a modern city with deep traditional aura in the Ishikawa prefecture. 

Explore the city’s historic charm and unveil various places with deep cultural values. From quaint neighborhoods to old Japanese towns, Kanazawa is always a comfortable weekend visit. Read on for weekend recommendations and how to get the most out of Kanazawa’s captivating corners in 72 hours! 

Arts of Kanazawa 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art

Established in 2004, the popular 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art is very accessible by way of the Kanazawa Loop Bus and is located in the city center of Kanazawa. Designed by Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa, the museum is known for its stripped and open-space  design, without a front or back of house, encouraging visitors to explore the museum from all directions. 

Photos courtesy of Syiva Zahra.

Various exhibitions are held in the main gallery, which is programmed for temporary exhibitions. These exhibitions also come from art students in universities for their final projects, which usually went for a month.

Photos courtesy of Syiva Zahra.

Taking It Slow in Coffee Stand *hana

At first glance, the shop’s facade might look like another plain building. It blends in with its neighbors until you see their welcome sign. Nestled in the Koshomachi area of Kanazawa, just less than one kilometers before Kenrokuen, lies a jazzy space called Coffee Stand *hana. This coffee shop is popular among students and workers to catch up and work. Inside, you are accompanied by comfortable jazz music and a wide range of books to read. There’s also a piano for you to play. 

Photos courtesy of Syiva Zahra.

The friendly owners of the cafe will greet you and walk you through the menus if you’re unsure of what to order. They are famous for their bagels, so be sure to order those! And their Coconut Latte is a must-try!          

Photos courtesy of Syiva Zahra.

The two owners, Shinpei-san and Yasuko-san, warmly welcome you as if you are a regular, even if it’s your first visit. They also never miss an opportunity to share posts of their guests on their Instagram story. Coffee Stand *hana is active on Instagram. Tune in to their instagram page for the shop updates, operating hours, and lots of insights on arts!

The Evergreen Kenrokuen

Kenrokuen is the number one destination in Kanazawa. “Kenrokuen” translates to “garden of the six sublimities,” reflecting the six essential attributes that make up a perfect garden, per Chinese landscape theory: spaciousness, seclusion, artificiality, antiquity, abundant water, and broad views. 

Photos courtesy of Syiva Zahra.

Kenrokuen fits every season, but is the prettiest in spring and winter, by popular vote among  students there. In spring, the garden is transformed into a dreamlike environment with hues of soft pinks and whites, created by the many cherry trees in the area. In winter, the garden becomes a tranquil snowscape, with newly fallen snow lending the scenery a distinctive and alluring appearance. 

Ancient Whispers of Higashi Chaya

An area where old and traditional culture once existed, Higashi Chaya is a historically significant entertainment district that was created in 1820. This district served as a venue for wealthy merchants to be entertained by geiko (geisha) through games, dance, and traditional music. The neighborhood is renowned for its classic wooden structures, lattice-work windows, and the distinct ambiance that has endured through the years.

Higashi Chaya. Photo courtesy of Syiva Zahra.
Nagamachi. Photo courtesy of Syiva Zahra.

Where The Samurais Live

Once a residential area for samurai, Nagamachi is a preserved historical site in Kanazawa. It is well-known for its unchanged samurai homes, cobblestone streets, and tiled, earthen walls — elements often associated with wealthier samurai neighborhoods in the Edo period. 

In Nagamachi, there are several attractions that you can visit. Nomura Samurai House, Kanazawa Shinise Kinenkan, and Ashigaru Shiryokan are just a few among many. Nagamachi is also close to Korinbo, the mall in the city center.  Beautifully surrounded by canals, a lot of quaint coffee shops emerge in this district, making it a recommendation for those who are looking forward to enjoying a quieter, yet serene district.

Home-Cooked Feels Of Curry

Spotting Nanahoshi Curry in Kanazawa is easy, due to its strategic location near the City Hall. Although the place is small, the store feels quite spacious with plenty of windows. Dining here is very comfortable, as the warm sunlight seeps in. 

Photos courtesy of Syiva Zahra.

In Nanahoshi, the curry comes in sets. The personable staff will guide you through the menu according to your liking, so you won’t be confused. You can choose either chicken curry or seafood curry — or both, complete with your level of spiciness and add-ons. Enjoy your umami-rich taste of curry with a view of Kanazawa.

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