A long, long time ago, a peasant named Imahori Togoro was digging for sweet potatoes in soggy earth when instead of edible tubers he uncovered flakes of gold, and thus founded the city of Kanazawa.
The name Kanazawa means marsh of gold and the city has gone onto become the thriving hub of the prefecture of Ishikawa — but the legend of the gold is not the only curious part of Kanazawa’s history.
In the tightly controlled, feudal world of ancient Japan, Kanazawa became one of the very few provinces that stayed out of the grip of the warlords — at least for a while. The city was the centre of a province known as Kaga that was governed by the ordinary people and known as The Peasant’s Kingdom.
This kingdom did not survive the unification wars of the 16th and 17th centuries but life under the lords wasn’t so bad and Kanazawa got back to its golden roots to become one the most important centers for the craft of gold leaf and lacquer. In fact gold leaf from Kanazawa covers many of Japan’s famous sites, including the Golden Pavilion in Kyoto.
Kanazawa has preserved many parts of its heritage, a number of the old homes belonging to the merchants and samurai, which makes the city in part a living museum. Today people flock to Kanazawa to bask in that culture and history. They will visit the museum of gold, the Edo period geisha houses, Kanazawa castle, Oyama-jinja shrine, (designated an important cultural asset), Myoryuji temple, and most of all, Kenrokuen, one of the oldest and most famous gardens of Japan.
Kenroku-en Garden, one of the best landscaped gardens in the country
Kanazawa Castle Grounds
21st Century Museum
The magic pool at the 21st Century Museum
D.T. Suzuki Museum
A beautifully set museum dedicated to DT Suzuki responsible for spreading the word of Zen Buddhism to the west.
The old preserved samurai district
The restored house and garden of the Nomura family
Higashi Chaya District
Geisha and teahouses
An old geisha teahouse in the Higashi Chaya District; preserved and open to the public, a nice peak into a secretive past.