Kanazawa is a treasure in Japan: It’s one of my favorite cities, beaten only by the likes of Hiroshima. One of the coolest parts of Kanazawa has to be its incredibly well-preserved samurai district, where the famous warriors once lived back in the Edo period.
How it Survived a Grim Fate
The district itself was the home to mid to high-ranking samurai in the city, with the city acting as the administrative center for the Kaga Clan. The name literally means “long town,” and survives to this day in its Edo-era configuration. While many of the other samurai districts in larger areas like Kyoto and Osaka were ravaged by fires and the firebombings during World War II, Kanazawa escapes such fiery destructions. As such, you can literally get lost walking along the streets, immersed in what it may have been like to live in the city during the Edo era.
Secrets in Every Nook and Cranny
The district has many well-preserved buildings, that’s for sure! We went for a walk along its streets one cool autumn afternoon and saw that one of the courtyards for a house was wide open. Curious, we poked our heads in and saw a lovely garden! In one of the open areas of the home we also found a laminated guide to the estate, complete with an English translation to guide us when traveling through the history of the home.
Further in we saw a few shops hidden behind some narrow entryways? We found a lovely little ceramic shop, replete with hand-crafted plates, cups, teapots, mugs, and more. The owners were lovely and helped us pick out what we wanted, answering our questions (said in poor Japanese) with a mix of Japanese and English. It was really nice to buy something to support them!
Lastly, just as we began to head back towards the station area and our hotel, we came across on of the most marvelously named cafes we’d ever seen in Japan: Moron Cafe.
Resisting the urge to buy a t-shirt and hat, we instead ordered some coffee and a monster slice of carrot cake. The coffee was roasted well, a bit on the fruity side with light bitterness. The cake was chunky, sweet, and exactly everything I enjoy in a carrot cake. Definitely worth a visit on your way out!
If you love history and want to stroll through one of the best-preserved cities in all of Japan, I would highly recommend Nagamachi in Kanazawa. It’s a beautiful city with great history that all should experience.