1-Day Tour from Kanazawa: Samurai, Matcha, Gardens and Geisha
All Year Round
09:00 - 18:30
1-Day Tour from Kanazawa: Samurai, Matcha, Gardens and Geisha
On the coast of the Sea of Japan lies the city of Kanazawa, once one of the wealthiest domains in old Japan. While today it is far smaller than cities on the Pacific coast like Tokyo and Osaka, it still boasts a rich cultural heritage and is famed for its scenic avenues, roasted green tea, and numerous historical sights. Kanazawa also boasts the highest production of gold leaf in Japan, and throughout the city you can find edible art including ice cream and Takoyaki topped with sheets of gold. Luckily for travelers, Kanazawa is relatively compact and all of the major sights are within walking distance of each other – including the Nagamachi Samurai District, Kanazawa Castle, Kenroku-en Garden, and the Higashi-chaya Tea District. Few places in Japan can claim such a density of attractions, and even fewer still allow for all of their major points of interest to be seen on foot in one day. However, the streets of Kanazawa can be hard to understand, and getting lost is rarely fun. On this tour, you will be led by an experienced, English speaking guide through Kanazawa along a route we have devised and tested to ensure you enjoy your time in this amazing city.
- Visit the Nagamachi Samurai District and enter the house of a Japanese Warrior from the days of the Shogun
- Taste Matcha and traditional Japanese sweets while overlooking a beautiful garden on the Kanazawa Castle grounds
- Stroll through the handsome and well tended traditional Japanese garden known as the Kenroku-en, created over two centuries ago on the order of the Lord of Kanazawa
- Learn about Geisha while visiting the Higashi-chaya Tea District, enter a tea house where Geisha once entertained customers, and step into the backstreets of the Kazue-machi Tea District where Geisha still work today
*For those looking to join the tour from Tokyo, please see the FAQ Section below
This tour will start at Kanazawa Station at 9:00 A.M., where your guide will meet you in front of the Information Center near the Shinkansen Ticket Gates. You will have the opportunity to put your belongings in a coin locker at the station as well if you feel the need.
Once you have left the inside of the station building, the first sight to see on the tour will be immediately visible. The Tsuzumi-mon gate, a modern take on a traditional building style and a new symbol of Kanazawa is a great spot for some photos to commemorate your trip.
Next, you will begin to walk towards the Nagamachi Samurai District, using a side street lined with local residence and the occasional wooden temple. At the end of this road there is a small neighborhood with several houses that once belonged to low-ranking Samurai. You will have the chance to enter these houses and see how Samurai of modest means lived their lives. The signs here are mostly in Japanese, so your guide will come in handy to explain what is written in each room.
Afterwards, you will enter into the Nagamachi Samurai District and stroll its long, crooked main street. Here there are also plenty of options to buy local Kanazawa crafts and wares, and so your guide will grant you some free time to use as you see fit. Of course, the guide will also be available to help you take photos on this historic street that will make your friends and family envious.
The next stop on the tour is the Oyama Shrine, a unique shrine that combines both Japanese and Western elements in a fusion that testifies to the history of Japan in the 19th century. At the back of this shrine is a koi pond and a small garden, as well as a path which leads to a big wooden bridge. This is the bridge you will cross before passing through an impressive gate to enter the Kanazawa Castle grounds. Once a place reserved for high ranking warriors, now it is open for you to enjoy its spacious gardens and lawns.
Here we will take a well deserved break to have some Matcha Tea. Located in an especially spectacular position, the Gyokusen-an tea house commands a view over a fabulous garden that lies at the base of some of the castle’s enormous stone walls. The interior of this tea house is purely Japanese, and boasts an elegance and refinement that is not commonly found. The Kimono-clad staff will bring you Matcha and artistic Japanese ‘Wagashi’ sweets, while the guide will explain the proper way to enjoy drinking Matcha. Feel free to spend some time here contemplating the garden which is spread out before you while sipping some high quality tea.
Refreshed and ready to continue, the tour will head through the Kanazawa Castle grounds before crossing over to the entrance to the Kenroku-en garden. As it will be a perfect time for lunch, your guide will recommend some restaurants on the street in front of the garden and leave you to enjoy an hour to yourself.
Once everyone is well-fed, your guide will lead you into the Kenroku-en garden and introduce you to its main points of interest. Designed and created over 200 years ago on the order of the Lord of Kanazawa Castle, this garden is a perennial favorite with Japanese tourists and often listed as one of the best gardens in Japan. The winter time scenery is particularly beautiful, so it is well worth it to brave the cold and stroll the area.
Following the Kenroku-en Garden, the tour will head to the famous Higashi-chaya Tea District, the symbol of Kanazawa and perhaps the most famous Tea District in Japan outside of Kyoto. Here the streets are lined with tall, 2-story wooden tea houses, some of which are painted red – a unique design feature you will only see in Kanazawa. After window shopping and searching for delicious snacks, your guide will take you inside Shima, a Geisha Tea House which has been well preserved and will give you a glimpse into Geisha life in the heyday of Kanazawa. The walls here are painted with bright but sophisticated colors, a symbol of the wealth and highly developed culture that existed in Kanazawa at that time.
Leaving Higashi-chaya the tour will begin to head back to the station, passing through the maze-like backstreets of Kazue-machi along the way. This district is lesser known and less crowded than Higashi-chaya, and still has Geisha entertaining customers to this day. If you listen carefully, you might hear the soft sound of a shamisen being plucked, and you will feel as if you were transported to a different time.
The road back to the station will pass through the Omi-cho Market, and guests who wish to eat dinner here are free to leave the tour at this time. Otherwise, you will return to the station and say your goodbyes there. Feel free to ask the guide for dinner recommendations or instructions back to your hotel, and they will happily help.
|09:00||Start your tour at Kanazawa Station, where your guide will greet you begin the tour.|
The meeting point will be outside the Shinkansen ticket gate, in front of the information center sign.
|09:30||Arrive at the Samurai District and enter preserved old homes from the days of the Shogun.|
You will then walk the main street of the district and have a chance to explore shops at your own pace.
|11:20||Pass through the Oyama Shrine after leaving the Samurai District and arrive at Kanazawa Castle for a Matcha Experience.|
Prepare to spend an enjoyable 30 minutes drinking tea and gazing at the beautiful garden in front of you.
|12:30||Arrive at the entrance to the Kenroku-en Garden after passing through the Kanazawa Castle grounds.|
Start your lunch break now.
|13:30||Enter the breathtaking Kenroku-en Garden.|
|15:00||Leave the Kenroku-en and start walking towards the Higashi-chaya Tea District.|
|15:20||Arrive at Higashi-chaya and have some free time to try local delicacies such as gold leaf ice cream, or shop for local handicrafts and goods.|
|16:20||Enter 'Shima', a preserved Geisha house on the main street of Higashi-chaya.|
|18:00||Arrive at Kanazawa Station after walking through Kazue-machi and the Omi-cho Fish Market.|
Those who wish to leave the tour at the Fish Market are free to do so.
TOUR MEETUP POINT
1 / KANAZAWA STATION @ 9:00 A.M.
The meetup point is outside of the Shinkansen ticket gates, in front of the information center. If you are heading out from the gates, look forward and to the right and you will see a large ‘?’ inside of a circle, which is the sign under which we will be meeting. For those coming from outside the station, you will find this sign immediately inside of the East Entrance of Kanazawa Station. You may wait nearby there until the tour begins at 9:00 A.M. Be sure to look for the guide wearing a SNOW MONKEY RESORTS tour tag.
- English speaking guide
- Matcha Experience
- Entry fee at Kenroku-en garden
- Entry Fee at Shima (Geisha Tea House)
- This tour involves several hours of walking in the outdoors. We recommend that you wear shoes and clothes which are easy to walk in. Please check the weather forecast before you head to the meetup point and prepare an umbrella or rain coat if necessary.
- In winter the temperatures will be below 10℃ at the high , and in the morning and evening may be close to or below 0℃. Please wear warm clothing and footwear appropriate for snowy and cold conditions. There may also be snow and ice on the road/sidewalk, and so you should take care to not slip by preparing the correct shoes for such conditions.
- There will be free time along the way for guests to enjoy the locations at their own pace. However, please make sure that you are at the respective meetup points at the time stated by your guide. If you get lost or need assistance, feel free to call the number which is listed on your tour pass, and our staff will assist you immediately.
- Q. I’d like to join this tour from Tokyo/Nagano. Is that possible?
- Yes, it is possible to do so!
For those coming from Tokyo, please ride the Shinkansen departing Tokyo Station at 6:16 A.M., to arrive in Kanazawa at 8:43.
For those leaving from Nagano, you can catch the same Shinkansen from Nagano Station at 7:38 A.M.
Please feel free to contact us if you would like more information.
- Can I choose to end the tour at the Omi-cho Fish Market?
- Yes, you may end the tour at the Fish Market.
There are many options for dinner here, and you can try fresh fish from the Sea of Japan. For those who do not have dinner plans, it may be a good idea to separate from the tour here in order to enjoy Kanazawa's sea food.
- What should I wear/bring?
- Please wear clothing appropriate to the season in which you are taking the tour, and check the weather forecast ahead of time. Guests may wish to bring rain coats or umbrellas on rainy days, or sunscreen to avoid sunburn during the summer months. In the winter months, the air temperatures will be cold (10 to -5 ℃ on average), and so gloves, winter boots, warm hats, and hand warmers are recommended. Otherwise, please feel free to bring any other items, such as water or a snack, which you would normally carry when walking in the outdoors.
- Can I add accommodation to my tour booking?
- Yes. We can help book accommodation for guests who will be spending the night in Kanazawa, or nearby areas. Please send us an inquiry if you would like to request help.
- Is this tour wheelchair accessible/appropriate for guests with limited mobility?
- The nature of this tour means it is not wheelchair accessible and may not be appropriate for guests with limited mobility, given the amount of walking involved. Should this be of concern, contact us prior to booking to discuss options.
- Is lunch included on this tour?
- No. This tour does not include lunch however there will be opportunities to purchase food and drinks during the tour. If you prefer to, please also feel free to bring snacks and drinks with you.
(Travel Agency License No: Nagano 2-562)
Snow Monkey Resorts Tours
Nagano City Kurita 1015-7, NK Copo 202, Nagano, 380-0921 Japan
Member of All Nippon Travel Agents Association
Travel Service Supervisor: Tomoko Kasahara
All Year Round
09:00 - 18:30