kanazawa 2 day itinerary

Kanazawa 2 Day Itinerary: The Best Ways to Explore the City in 2 Days

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Kanazawa is a historic and atmospheric city on Japan’s central west coast. It’s often referred to as “little Kyoto”.  

With its well-preserved old neighborhoods, Japan’s most beautiful garden, castles, temples, and well-preserved Samurai and Geisha district, Kanazawa offers a charming look into historic Japan. Kanazawa was high on my list of Japan’s most beautiful small towns to visit. 

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In this Kanazawa travel blog and guide, I’ll share the perfect Kanazawa 2 day itinerary that will help you maximize your time to see the top sights and hidden gems, including detailed tips for first-time visitors. Let’s get started! First, let’s address the obvious.

Kanazawa 2 Day Itinerary: The Best Ways to Explore the City in 2 Days

kanazawa 2 day itinerary

is Kanazawa worth visiting?

Since Kanazawa is not as popular or well known to first time visitors, that’s one of the main charms about it. It’s not filled with tourists (yet)!  So, it’s fair you’re wondering is it worth it to go to Kanazawa. I wholeheartedly say 100% yes. 

Kanazawa is one of Japan’s top historic castle towns and rivals destinations like Kyoto, Nara, and Takayama for traditional charm and culture.

The main advantages of Kanazawa are:

  • Historic districts like the Higashi Chaya geisha district are beautifully preserved from medieval times. You can walk through old teahouses and architecture.
  • Attractions like Kenrokuen Garden and Kanazawa Castle give you a sense of the city’s wealth and history without massive crowds.
  • Handicrafts like gold leaf, Kutani porcelain and silk dyeing have been produced locally for centuries and make great souvenirs.
  • Delicious, fresh seafood from the nearby coast is readily available at restaurants and Omicho Market.

If you love discovering historic Japanese culture and architecture, Kanazawa is absolutely worth a visit! The compact size also makes it easy to cover the main attractions in a short trip.

Kanazawa History 

Kanazawa is this totally cool city on the coast that gives you a glimpse into Japan’s past. It’s not huge – about 470,000 people – but it played a big role in history as an important castle town.

Get this – during the Edo period, Kanazawa was ruled by the powerful Maeda clan and was rolling in it. We’re talking about one of the richest regions in Japan at the time! The Maeda lords promoted traditional arts and crafts, so Kanazawa became known for things like gold leaf, silk dyeing, pottery – all that good stuff.

The best part is, that since Kanazawa escaped bombing in WWII, much of the medieval-style architecture is still around today. There are restored neighborhoods with samurai and geisha houses, ancient temples and gardens, the whole shebang. Walking around feels like you’re time-traveling to the Edo period.

Today, Kanazawa is considered one of Japan’s best-preserved Edo period towns. Many neighborhoods with samurai and geisha houses have been restored, along with ancient temples, gardens, and a castle.

Now I gotta rave about the seafood here. Being a coastal city, Kanazawa gets the freshest catch from the Sea of Japan. The sushi and seafood will blow your mind!

How many days do i need in kanazawa?

How long should you stay? I’d say at least 2 full days minimum to see the top sites at a nice pace. You could do 1 day if rushed. 3 days would be ideal to catch a show at a teahouse, relax at a hot spring, and dive deeper into the culture. If you have a week, you could explore the surrounding Hokuriku region too.

If you have more time, 4-5 days allows you to take a day trip to nearby destinations like Shirakawa-go or the Noto Peninsula. A week or more would be great to also see the Alpine Route, Fukui, and other parts of Ishikawa prefecture.

The major sites like Kenrokuen Garden, Kanazawa Castle, Omicho Market, and the geisha/samurai districts can realistically be seen in 2 days. But extending beyond this minimum gives you a better sense of Kanazawa’s charm.

The bottom line is that Kanazawa has to be on your Japan itinerary if you love history and tradition. The main highlights like the castle, samurai district and Kenrokuen garden will transport you back in time. And it’s compact enough that you can see a lot in a short visit. 

Which is better Kanazawa or Takayama?

Both Kanazawa and Takayama are amazing historic towns to visit in Japan, each with their own unique charm and appeal. I visited both and highly recommend you do so too. They are adjacent to each other and to visit one without the other would be a huge oversight. Here’s a helpful 3 week Japan itinerary that includes Kanazawa and Takayama.

Here’s a comparison of the two to help you decide:

Kanazawa is larger and was a wealthy castle town, home to powerful samurai and geisha districts catering to the elite.

The main Kanazawa attractions are:

  • Kenrokuen – considered one of Japan’s top 3 most beautiful gardens
  • Well-preserved Higashi Chaya geisha district
  • Kanazawa Castle and Nagamachi samurai neighborhood
  • Omicho Market for incredible seafood

Takayama has more of a quaint, traditional village atmosphere with a focus on skilled craftsmanship and carpentry.

The Takayama highlights are:

  • Historic Old Town with buildings from the Edo period
  • Morning markets with traditional open-air stalls
  • Takayama Jinya – the only surviving government outpost from the Edo period
  • Beautiful mountain scenery nearby like Shirakawa-go

While Kanazawa has grandeur, Takayama has an intimacy and charm. Both cities offer glimpses of old Japan before modernization.

I’d recommend visiting both as part of a wider Japan trip to get the full experience! They complement each other extremely well.

For example, you could visit Takayama, Shirakawa-go, and Kanazawa over 5-6 days. I have an example itinerary in my 3 week Japan travel guide that shows one way to see the highlights of both towns efficiently.

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Day Trips from Kanazawa

Shirakawa-go & Gokayama Villages (UNESCO Site)

Alpine Route (Tateyama Kurobe)

  • Stunning mountain scenery, ropeways, gorges
  • 2.5 hours by train/bus each way
  • Alpine Route Full Course from Kanazawa

Takayama

Fukui Dinosaur Museum

  • Excellent dinosaur exhibits, perfect for kids
  • 1 hour by train each way
  • Fukui Dinosaur Museum Day Trip
kanazawa 2 day itinerary karakouken garden

Day trip to kanazawa

What to do in kanazawa: Guided Tours in Kanazawa

Kanazawa 2 Day Itinerary

with two days in kanazawa; here’s an hour-by-hour breakdown to help you maximize your time in Kanazawa. I’ve included transportation tips, costs, and recommendations based on my own visit.

Day 1 Kanazawa Itinerary

8 AM: Breakfast at Curio Espresso & Vintage Design Cafe

  • Cozy and delicious pastries, located near Omicho Market
  • Cost: 1000 JPY

9 AM: Walk to Kenrokuen Garden

  • 15 min, 1.2 km walk or 5 min Loop Bus from Kanazawa Station
  • Check out the Kanazawa train station with the 

10 AM: Kenrokuen Garden

  • Spend 1-2 hours strolling through ponds and tea houses
  • Cost: 310 JPY
  • Shigure-tei Tea House

The first stop is to stroll through the stunning Kenrokuen Garden! It’s the best thig to do Kanazawa. Dating back to the 1600s, it’s considered one of the top 3 most beautiful gardens in all of Japan.

The entrance fee is totally reasonable at just 320 yen for adults and 100 yen for kids. It’s open daily from 7am-6pm in spring/summer, and 8am-5pm in autumn/winter. Definitely aim to get there right when it opens to beat the crowds.

Kenrokuen has been around since the 1600s, when the lord built a fancy house next to Kanazawa Castle. It’s had some work done over the centuries, like adding in waterfalls and teahouses.

Walking along the paths, you’ll pass through a bunch of different mini garden “rooms” centered around a main pond. Each one has unique landscaping and sights, like the oldest fountain in Japan!

The garden design is influenced by an ancient Chinese book about the most stunning gardens. And Kenrokuen totally nails it – just wait until you see the beauty packed into this place!

Give yourself 1-2 hours to fully take in all the little waterways, bridges, and hidden gems tucked away around each corner. It’s a fantastic spot for photos or just relaxing by the ponds and trees.

Here are some tips for visiting Shiguretei Tea House at Kenrokuen Garden:

Tip: One of my favorite parts of Kenrokuen is stopping for matcha tea at the Shiguretei Tea House. For just 720 yen, you can take a break from walking to sip matcha overlooking the gardens.

The tea house is open from 9am until 4pm daily. Take your time enjoying the traditional green tea paired with a small Japanese sweet.

Before you leave, be sure to check out the cool room encased in glass on all sides. It perfectly frames views of the tranquil garden landscapes. It’s an ideal spot to rest your legs and reflect on the natural serenity surrounding you.

12 PM: Walk across Ishikawa Gate to Kanazawa Castle

  • Part of Kenrokuen Garden, 5 min walk

12:30 PM: Kanazawa Castle Park Grounds

  • See reconstructed turrets and castle walls
  • Cost: Free entry to grounds, 320 JPY to enter exhibits

1:30 PM: Lunch at Omicho Market

  • Seafood donburi, sushi. Market stalls close around 3 PM.
  • Cost: 1500 JPY

Here are some tips for visiting Omicho Market:

one of the best things to do in kanazawa is to check out the Omicho Marke. It is a must-visit in Kanazawa to taste delicious local seafood! Most of the shops and little restaurants here are open from 9:30am to 5pm daily.

It’s totally free to enter and wander around the market stalls. You’ll find everything from fresh sushi and seafood bowls to fruit, veggies, and meat. Prices vary by shop, but you can easily grab a tasty seafood lunch here for 1500 yen or less.

Getting to Omicho is easy! From Kanazawa Station, it’s about a 20 minute straight walk. Or hop on the Loop bus and get off at the Minami-cho stop – that’ll drop you right near the market entrance.

Tip: Come with an empty stomach ready to sample all the unique seafood that Kanazawa is known for. I recommend trying the kaisen-don (seafood rice bowl), sushi, or oysters as a delicious lunch option.

3 PM: Explore Nagamachi Samurai District Kanazawa old town

  • Walk along canals and see preserved houses
  • 30 min, 2 km walk from Castle area

4 PM: Nomura Samurai House

  • Historic samurai residence and gardens
  • Cost: 550 JPY

5 PM: Higashi Chaya District (Geisha district)

  • Tea houses, shops, cafes. Have matcha tea.
  • 30 min, 2.5 km walk or 10 min bus from Samurai District

7 PM: Dinner at Kaiseki Restaurant

  • Multi-course traditional Kaiseki meal showcasing local cuisine
  • Cost: 5000 JPY

9 PM: Evening stroll through Higashi Chaya

  • See the lantern-lit streets and teahouses

10 PM: Return to hotel

Day 2 Kanazawa Itinerary

8 AM: Breakfast at hotel

9 AM: Myoryu-ji Ninja Temple (Myoryu-ji)

  • Go on the guided tour of secret tunnels and passages (only available by reservation in advance)
  • Cost: 1000 JPY
  • Book tour tickets at least 1 day in advance

Tip: these tours are with the official government tour guides and are in Japanese, it’s a bit of a hassle to arrange but well worth it to see all the hidden rooms and tunnels especiallhy if you’re into history! Call to make a reservation by phone (07-241-0888)

Good to know:  Okay, get this – the Ninja Temple sounds like it would be connected to ninjas, but it actually has nothing to do with them! It got its nickname because of its tricky design.

Here’s the deal: Back when the Tokugawa Shoguns took control in the 1600s, they didn’t want any threats to their power. So they told the local lords to destroy their castles and defenses.

But the Kanazawa daimyo, the Maeda clan, came up with a clever work-around. They built “temples” around the city that secretly acted as lookout posts and defense forts. Sneaky!

The best one is Myoryuji Temple, also called Ninja-dera. This place was built to protect the Maeda lords, with all kinds of hidden floors, escape routes, and secret passageways built right into it. Really ingenious stuff!

The temple architecture and design made it easy to spy on enemies, move soldiers around, and even hide people and supplies underground. All disguised as an innocent Buddhist temple!

Visiting the Ninja Temple today, you can take a guided tour to see all the trap doors, concealed tunnels and trick walls that were intended to guard against attacks. It’s a super cool look into how creative and strategic defense tactics were back in medieval Japan. Definitely a must-see!

11 AM: 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art

  • Interesting modern architecture and exhibits
  • Cost: 360 JPY

12 PM: Lunch at one of the local restaurants nearby the Nagamachi District

1:30 PM: Nagamachi Samurai District

  • Walk through neighborhood, see old samurai houses

When walking around the Nagamachi Samurai District, you gotta check out some of the old residences that have been turned into museums.

For example, there’s the Nomura Clan samurai house/  Nomura Samurai House that used to belong to the Nomura clan. They were a powerful samurai family who served the ruling Maeda lords for centuries starting in the 1600s.

The house has been restored and they’ve got some awesome artifacts on display, like samurai gear and weapons, so you can see how the upper-class samurai lived back in the day.

The gardens are also stunning – they have these gorgeous ponds filled with huge koi fish that are really relaxing to sit and watch. Definitely take a break on the tea house deck overlooking the ponds!

Another cool one is the Old Merchant’s House, which actually used to be a pharmacy selling traditional Chinese medicine. You can check out the front shop area, then head to the back rooms to see where the merchant family lived in the Edo period.

It’s crazy to compare the modest merchant lifestyle versus the grand upper-class samurai residences. The house shows how regular business people co-existed with the warrior class in medieval Kanazawa.

Visiting these places really brings Kanazawa’s past to life. You get to walk in the footsteps of both samurai and merchants from centuries ago. The open houses let you imagine what daily life was like back then.

Coco Tran — Curated Aesthetic Travel Blog By Film Photographer Coco Tran https://cocotran.com/kanazawa-2-day-itinerary/

How To get to nagamachi District

Headed to the Nagamachi District to see how the samurai lived? I got you covered on how to get there.

Your best bet is definitely to take the Loop Bus since the sites are kinda spread out. Just hop on the Right Loop bus and get off at the Kata-machi stop. That’ll drop you right by the entrance to the district.

If you wanna walk, it’s totally doable from Kanazawa Castle. Just exit out the east side of the castle grounds and follow the canal. It’s about a 30 minute stroll – great if the weather’s nice!

Tip: Make sure to stop along the way for photos at some of the cool bridges crossing the canal. And peek down the small alleys to get a glimpse of the mud brick walls and architecture.

Once you’re in the district, it’s easy to explore the main roads on foot. But the samurai house museums are a bit spaced apart, so the bus can save some time getting between them.

There’s street signs and maps posted to help you navigate, and people are super friendly if you need any directions!

3 PM: Kazuemachi Chaya Geisha District

  • Small preserved geisha neighborhood with old teahouses

4 PM: Shima Geisha House

  • See inside a restored 19th century geisha house
  • Cost: 500 JPY

No trip to Kanazawa is complete without stopping by the Shima Geisha House! For just 500 yen, you get to step back in time and see what life was like in a real geisha house.

It used to be an actual teahouse where geishas lived and entertained clients back in the day. Walking through, you can check out the rooms where the geisha performed their dances, played music, and held elegant tea ceremonies.

There’s also really cool displays showing the kitchen where their food was prepared, as well as the proprietress’s private quarters. Definitely a must-see when strolling through the Higashi Chaya geisha district!

Tip: If you time your visit for a Saturday, you might catch an authentic geisha performance held right there. The Kanazawa City Tourism Association hosts them occasionally – just ask at the train station office for the schedule.

How to get to higashi chaya District

Getting to Higashi Chaya is easy. Just hop on the Right Loop bus and get off at stop #4. Or it’s a nice 15-20 minute walk from Omicho Market area. Keep your eyes peeled for grand wooden teahouses and ladies dressed in vibrant kimono as you get close!

6 PM: Relax at public bathhouse onsen

  • Soak in hot springs to unwind after walking
  • Cost: 400 JPY

Here’s an overview of some top public bathhouses (onsen) to visit in Kanazawa:

After a long day of sightseeing, soaking in one of Kanazawa’s onsen baths is pure bliss! Here are some great options to unwind and experience Japanese bathing culture:

  • Miroku Onsen Motoyu – Famous for its relaxing brown coffee-colored mineral water. Leaves your skin feeling silky smooth!
  • Kenroku Onsen – Features a lovely open-air bath to soak while gazing at the sky.
  • Kuwana Yu – Situated along the pretty Asanogawa River near the geisha district. Offers unique herbal baths like Hawaiian blue-tinged water.
  • Kobashi Yu – Specializes in therapeutic herbal baths using ingredients like coenzyme Q10 and lavender. Excellent for soothing sore muscles.
  • Yamato Onsen – Simple and local natural hot spring bathhouse. A no-frills traditional experience.
  • Hyotan Yu – Just a 10 minute walk from Kanazawa station makes this one conveniently located.
  • Z Sasanoyu – Charming neighborhood onsen located at the birthplace of a famous astronomer.

Make sure to pick up any amenities like shampoo or razors before arriving, and review the proper etiquette for visiting an onsen. After a long day of walking, nothing feels better than soaking in hot mineral waters!

8 PM: Dinner at Omicho Market

  • Stand sushi and seafood bowls
  • Cost: 1500 JPY
takayama old town

top Kanazawa attractions:

  • Omicho Fish Market – Large fresh seafood and produce market with restaurants to sample local cuisine
  • Higashi Chaya District – Historic geisha tea house district with well-preserved architecture, shops, and teahouses
  • Ninja Temple (Myoryuji) – Temple with secret passages and hiding spots, only visitable by guided tour
  • Nagamachi Samurai District – Preserved neighborhood where samurai once lived, with old residences and canals
  • Gyokusenen Garden – Smaller garden next to Kenrokuen, beautiful in all seasons
  • Nishi Chaya District – One of Kanazawa’s historic geisha districts with teahouses and architecture
  • 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art – Excellent modern art museum with interesting exhibits and architecture
  • Oyama Shrine – Elegant shrine with colorful stained-glass gate designed by a Dutch architect
  • Kotatsumori Sake Brewery – See how sake is produced at this historic sake brewery founded in 1835
  • Kanazawa Phonograph Museum – Museum with over 600 playable phonographs and music boxes
  • Izumi Chaya Teahouse – Historic teahouse in a traditional house serving matcha with a kaiseki menu
  • Sakuda Gold Leaf Company – See how gold leaf is produced, used in arts, crafts and even cosmetics
  • D.T. Suzuki Museum – Modern museum focused on spirituality and the Zen Buddhist philosopher D.T. Suzuki
  • Yasue Gold Leaf Museum – Museum explaining the history and production of gold leaf in Kanazawa

There are so many great things to see and do in Kanazawa beyond the main highlights!

How to Get to Kanazawa

The fastest way to reach Kanazawa is by train. From Tokyo, take the Hokuriku Shinkansen bullet train directly to Kanazawa Station, which takes around 2.5 hours. From Kyoto or Osaka, the express Thunderbird train takes 2-3 hours.

You can also take an overnight highway bus from Tokyo or Kyoto, which takes 7-8 hours. Buses are cheaper but less convenient if you want to maximize your time.

If flying, Kanazawa has an airport (Komatsu Airport) with connections to Tokyo and other major Japanese cities. The airport is about 40 minutes by bus from the city center.

I recommend taking the shinkansen to maximize your time if you only have 2 days. The station is centrally located, so you can immediately start sightseeing.

Here is a detailed guide on how to get to Kanazawa from major cities in Japan:

How to get to Kanazawa From Tokyo:

  • Shinkansen: Take the JR Hokuriku shinkansen from Tokyo station to Kanazawa. This high-speed train takes around 2.5 hours and costs around 14,000 yen one-way.
  • Bus: Overnight buses depart from Tokyo stations like Shinjuku, Tokyo, and Shibuya and take 7-8 hours to reach Kanazawa. Buses cost 6,000 – 8,000 yen one-way.
  • Plane: You can fly from Haneda or Narita Airport to Komatsu Airport near Kanazawa. Flight time is 1 hour. The airport is 40 mins by bus from Kanazawa station.

How to get to Kanazawa  From Kyoto/Osaka:

  • Train: Take the JR Thunderbird limited express train from Kyoto/Osaka to Kanazawa Station. Journey time is 2.5 hours from Kyoto and 3 hours from Osaka. Ticket costs around 7,000 yen one-way.
  • Bus: Overnight highway buses take around 5 hours from Kyoto or Osaka to Kanazawa. Buses cost around 5,000 – 7,000 yen one-way.

How to get to Kanazawa From Takayama:

  • Bus: Nohi Bus runs direct highway buses between Takayama and Kanazawa. The journey takes around 2.5 hours and costs around 3,500 yen one-way. Buses run several times per day.
  • Train: You can take the JR Hida limited express train between Takayama and Kanazawa, changing trains at Toyama. Takes around 3 hours and costs around 5,500 yen one-way.

I’d recommend the shinkansen from Tokyo or limited express train from Kyoto/Osaka and Takayama for the fastest and most convenient connections. Buses are cheaper but take much longer. Let me know if you need any other Japan transportation tips!

Getting Around Kanazawa

Kanazawa’s top attractions are quite spread out, so public transportation is recommended to get around efficiently:

  • Kanazawa Loop Bus: This convenient circular bus route stops at main sights like Kenrokuen Garden, Castle, Higashi Chaya, Ninja Temple, 21st Century Museum, etc. Buses run every 15-20 minutes.
  • Kenrokuen Shuttle Bus: Smaller loop focused on Kanazawa Station, Katamachi, and Kenrokuen/Castle area.
  • JR Buses: Cover some attractions, free with Japan Rail Pass.Here are some tips for using the free JR buses in Kanazawa with the Japan Rail Pass:If you have a Japan Rail Pass, you can ride the JR buses in Kanazawa for free, which is a great way to save money!
    • There are two main routes – the Korinbo (Blue) and Owaricho (Red) buses. Both stop at main attractions like the Castle, Kenrokuen Garden, Nagamachi District, Omicho Market and more.The buses come around every 20 minutes and run from early morning to early evening.
    • You can easily hop-on and hop-off to explore different areas.The buses depart from Kanazawa Station’s East Exit terminal 5. Be sure to show your pass when boarding. Pick up a route map at the station or check online at the Nishinihon JR Bus website to plan your trip.
    • Riding the JR buses is an easy way to get around Kanazawa’s top sights for free if you have the rail pass. And you don’t have to worry about buying individual tickets. Just flash your pass and go!
  • Machi-nori Bike Share: Great for shorter trips around main city areas.
  • Taxis: Readily available for direct trips if needed. Ask your hotel to call one.

I recommend using the Loop Bus as much as possible to save time traveling between attractions in different parts of the city. Have bus fare ready as you cannot use an IC card.

Where to Stay in Kanazawa

The best areas to stay in Kanazawa are near Katamachi and Korinbo. This will put you in the heart of the city, close to shopping and dining, and near the Loop Bus stops.

Other good options are near Kanazawa Station for train access or in the Higashiyama District to immerse yourself in the historic geisha district.

For accommodations, I recommend:

RELATED: Best Kanazawa Ryokans & Amazing Kanazawa hotels

Best Things to Do in Kanazawa in 2 Days

With just 2 days, you’ll need to be selective about what sights to see in Kanazawa. Here is an itinerary covering the top attractions and hidden gems.

Day 1 Morning: Kenrokuen Garden, Castle, Market

Start your day early at Kenrokuen Garden to enjoy the tranquility before crowds arrive. Spend at least 1-2 hours strolling through the ponds, teahouses, and landscapes of one of Japan’s “three great gardens”.

Next, head to Kanazawa Castle Park to see the exterior reconstructions of the castle and walk across the Ishikawa-mon bridge.

For lunch, enjoy the bustling Omicho Market and sample fresh sushi and seafood bowls made from the day’s catch.

Day 1 Afternoon: Samurai & Geisha Districts

In the afternoon, explore Kanazawa’s historic districts:

  • Nagamachi Samurai District – Preserved residential streets where samurai once lived. Walk along the canal and see old samurai houses.
  • Higashi Chaya – Kanazawa’s largest geisha tea district with well-preserved wooden teahouses and architecture. Have matcha tea in a cafe or teahouse.

Day 1 Evening: Dining, Shopping, Entertainment

For dinner, enjoy an upscale kaiseki meal showcasing Ishikawa’s fresh seafood and produce. Or try a local izakaya pub.

In the evenings, parts of Higashi Chaya light up beautifully with lanterns. You can also find traditional entertainment like geisha shows here.

The Katamachi and Tatemachi areas near the station offer lively modern shopping and nightlife.

Day 2 Morning: Ninja Temple & Crafts

Start day 2 at the Ninja Temple, an Edo-era temple with secret passages and hiding spots. Guided tours only, so reserve ahead.

Head to the excellent 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, with interesting architecture and rotating exhibits.

Spend the late morning shopping for Kanazawa’s top crafts. Look for gold leaf items, handpainted Kutani porcelain, Ohi pottery, and Kaga Yuzen silk dyeing.

Day 2 Afternoon: Samurai District & Geisha Houses

In the afternoon, walk through the Nagamachi Samurai District to see old residences and stroll along the canals.

Visit Kazuemachi Chaya geisha district, smaller and quainter than Higashi Chaya. See examples of traditional architecture.

Tour the inside of buildings like Shima Geisha House and Kaikaro Teahouse to see inside restored geisha houses.

End with a visit to Gyokusen Garden next to Kenrokuen to see another excellent garden.

Day 2 Evening: Onsen, Shopping, Dining

In the evening, relax tired feet at one of Kanazawa’s excellent hot spring baths.

Dine at Omicho Market or Katamachi for a final meal and souvenir shopping.

Or take a taxi to the lively Asanogawa nightlife district for izakaya pubs.

Tips for Visiting Kanazawa

  • Purchase a 1-day bus pass (600 yen) to save money exploring on the Loop Bus.
  • Have cash ready for bus tickets and entrance fees. Many attractions do not accept cards.
  • Book Ninja Temple and other guided tours at least a day in advance.
  • Walk in the early mornings or evenings when sightseeing spots are less crowded.
  • Rent a bike for quick transport between nearby attractions like the Castle area.
  • In restaurants, ask for an English menu or recommendations from staff. Seafood and local vegetables are excellent.
  • Sample fresh sushi and seafood donburi bowls at Omicho Market for an affordable meal.
  • Look for unique gold-leaf infused items like ice cream as fun edible souvenirs.
  • At night, walk through temple and shrine grounds lit up atmospherically with lanterns.

Kanawaza day trip tokyo

Here is an ideal 1-day itinerary for a day trip to Kanazawa from Kyoto or Tokyo:

You can also book this excellent day trip tour: 

The Ultimate Tokyo to Mount Fuji Day Trip Guide Mount Fuji in Autumn

1 Day Kanazawa itinerary

8:00 AM – Depart Kyoto/Tokyo

Take the early morning shinkansen or express train to maximize your time. The train ride is around 2.5 hours from Tokyo and 2 hours from Kyoto.

11:00 AM – Arrive in Kanazawa, visit Kenrokuen Garden

Marvel at the ponds, teas houses, and landscapes in one of Japan’s top 3 gardens. Spend 1-2 hours here taking in the natural beauty.

1:00 PM – Lunch at Omicho Market

Wander the stalls sampling fresh sushi, seafood rice bowls, and local dishes for lunch.

3:00 PM – Explore Kanazawa Castle grounds

See the reconstructed castle walls and architecture from the exterior. Walk over the moat and through Ishikawa Gate.

4:30 PM – Tour a Samurai District

Take in the historic ambience of the well-preserved Nagamachi or Higashimachi samurai district. See a preserved samurai home.

6:00 PM – Higashi Chaya Geisha District

Stroll through the wooden teahouses and architecture of this enchanting geisha neighborhood before dinner.

7:00 PM – Dinner at Omicho Market

Grab an early kaiseki seafood dinner or sushi at the market before heading back.

8:30 PM – Return to train station by bus

Take the Loop bus back to the station. Catch the evening shinkansen or train to return.

This itinerary efficiently packs in the top highlights and culture of Kanazawa into a busy one day visit. Arriving/departing very early is key to have enough time when doing Kanazawa as a day trip from another city.

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