[Private Tour in Kanazawa] Explore Gold Leaf Glamor, Sushi Delights and Choose Your Own Adventure

[Private Tour in Kanazawa] Explore Gold Leaf Glamor, Sushi Delights and Choose Your Own Adventure


all year round



Meeting Place

Kanazawa Station or from your hotel near the station


79,000 ~ / groupJPY

[Private Tour in Kanazawa] Explore Gold Leaf Glamor, Sushi Delights and Choose Your Own Adventure

The city of gold and traditional arts, Kanazawa was once one of the wealthiest domains in Edo period Japan. There is no shortage of sights to see here, from its geisha teahouses to the samurai gardens, 1970s and 80s cityscape to 400 year old temples and fish markets to giant castles. 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. It can be difficult to get the most out of your time here without an experienced guide that is knowledgeable about the city. There are so many interesting stories and places that you may miss walking around on your own so join us on this private tour and make the most out of your time in this amazing city.


  • Try your hand at gold leaf placement, a centuries old art perfected in the city
  • See the bustling Omicho Market and unique Oyama Shrine, both central to Kanazawa’s past and present
  • Make your own Hosomaki, or sushi roll, for lunch. There are plenty of options that include delicious local fish, meats and vegetables. There is something for everyone.
  • Choose your own adventure in the afternoon! There are three options for whatever you’re feeling; the main sights of Kanazawa, a focus on samurai and ninjas, and exploring the city’s modern and traditional arts.

What’s typically included?

  • one-day tour starting from Kanazawa Station (or from your hotel if it is near the station or central area of the city), followed by the gold leaf experience, a visit to Omicho Market, a quick stop at Oyama Shrine and then a make-your-own-sushi roll for lunch. In the afternoon you will have a choice between three different routes: main sights, samurai/ninjas or the arts. When you meet up with the guide in the morning you can let them know what you want to do! See below for more details on each choice.


This tour will start at Kanazawa Station at 9:00 am, 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. If you want to start the tour from your hotel, it will also start at 9:00 am from there.

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. Don’t miss the fountain clock as well. Watching the clock change seems so ordinary but is actually a cool thing to watch.

Next, you will begin to walk towards the gold leaf placing experience by going through a place called Yokoyasue-cho. This is an area close to Kanazawa that is often missed by tourists as it is not one of the major areas of the city. This used to be the main nightlife and shopping district of the city during the first half of the 1900s. There are still many restaurants and shops around which you can head to for dinner, lunch or even breakfast during your time in Kanazawa. You can also get a glimpse of one of the largest temples in the entire city, Hongan-ji. It is a nice area to stroll through as we head to the first location.

Kanazawa is famous for its production of gold leaf which is gold hammered to within 1/10,000th of a millimeter and is a UNESCO Culturally Intangible Property. At this first experience, you can choose the shape of plate you wish to make and are guided by the experienced workers at the shop. When you’re finished you can even take it home as a souvenir!

After you complete your work of art, we’ll have a short walk through Omicho Market, the central market for seafood in Kanazawa. This is an excellent place to look around and get a feel for how this city, which faces the great Sea of Japan to its west, makes use of the great resources it has. This market has been here in some function for the past 200 years and you can feel the tradition that has been passed down. If you want to grab a quick bite, feel free to do so, there are plenty shops where you can try just about type of seafood. This is also a good time to get a feel for the market if you want to stop by the next day for breakfast or lunch.

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.

It’s now time for lunch! You will have the chance to make hosomaki, or sushi rolls. You will have a choice of 5 different ingredients to puts inside before rolling it yourself. The ingredients could be anything from local fish and meats to a variety of vegetables and legumes, you get to choose. There are also excellent teas that you can choose from that are locally grown and roasted. There is nothing better than sipping a tea of your choice with a sushi roll you made with your own hands.

After lunch it’s decision time! You must choose one of the three options. There is not enough time to do all of them so depending on what you have already seen or what you are feeling the day of, choose one of the three options. Please let your guide know in the morning of your decision.

OPTION 1 – The Main Sights of Kanazawa

This option is for those who are only spending a day in Kanazawa and/or want to see all the most important sights. After lunch we will walk through Kazuemachi, a quiet area with small alleyways and geisha tea houses. There are some excellent picture spots here. The first major stop of the afternoon is the Higashichaya District, the largest and best preserved geisha tea house district in the city. The atmospheric area is a pleasure to walk through with its many cafes and small shops. Take your time and enjoy it for a while by yourselves before rejoining with your guide and entering one of the houses. Shima is a real preserved tea house that is about 200 years old, where you will learn about the history of the art of entertaining and the people of the period. There will also be time for matcha inside for you to try.

As we leave the district you can still get nice pictures of the area on the bridge nearby as we head towards the Kenrokuen Garden. 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. Right across from the garden is Kanazawa Castle, which is the major spot for cherry blossoms in the city. It is also has an interesting history, once home to not only a feudal lord and rebel army but also even a university at one point.

And that is it for the day as we head back to Kanazawa Station or your hotel to end the tour. Feel free to ask your guide any recommendations.

OPTION 2 – Samurai, Ninjas and retro-modern Kanazawa

This option is great for those who want to experience both the traditional and more recent history of the city in one sweep. The tour will first head to Nagamachi which was a former residential district for samurai and other warriors. Here we will go inside the home of an ashigaru, a low-rank warrior. We will also see the garden of a former samurai’s residence and walk through the main area with its famous yellow adobe and stone walls. This area is directly connected to Katamachi, center of Kanazawa’s nightlife. The feeling of 60s and 70s Japan with its networks of telephone wires across small streets and bars that are just as interesting are everywhere. This is especially true in Shintenchi, with bars so small that you have to sit to enjoy and seem like they are straight from old movie.

After passing through those areas we will arrive in the Nishichaya District, the third of the geisha tea house districts. This one actually has the most active geishas despite it being the least famous of the three. There are a number of shops and museums, one of which is the Ninja Weapons Museum. Inside are all types of weapons that were used by ninjas in the past, as well as their armor and other interesting items. You can also buy imitations swords here that you can send home if you want. It is also here that you can try throwing ninja stars and throwing pins. It is more difficult than you would imagine but a fun activity to give a try.

The last stop for the day is Teramachi, an area that is dotted with many temples. From about 350 years ago these temples were moved from all over the region here so they are from various sects and have different practices. Although many of the main temples themselves have been rebuilt many times over the years, the gates in front are often either originals or hundreds of years old. After strolling through this area, we will make our way back to Kanazawa Station, or your hotel, where we will end out tour. Feel free to ask for recommendations as always!

Option 3 – Traditional Sense, Modern Art

This option is for those who want something quite different, with a focus on the beauty of Kanazawa’s traditional culture and some of the more culture as well. We will start by heading to Gyokusen-an and have some matcha and sweets at the beautiful garden. After a relaxing time sipping tea and chatting we will walk through the outdoor art area of the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art before arriving at Ishiura Shrine. This is the oldest shrine in Kanazawa, said to be originally built about 1500 years ago, and is famous today for its matchmaking ability.

Down the road is a modern Zen Museum, the DT Suzuki Museum, that we will pass and see the serene water feature that is the hallmark of this place. A small path runs behind it to an often overlooked, Shokukaku Garden. This is a garden maintained in the same way since the Edo period 170 years ago and has a very different feel to the grandness of Kanazawa’s most famous park, the Kenrokuen Garden.

On our way to the final stop of the tour is the place where the city of Kanazawa got its name, Kanazawa Shrine. Here you can hear about this interesting story and see the well in the that story where it all started. This area in general is known as the Cultural District because of the large number of museums. It is an excellent place to learn more about Kanazawa, the region and Japan in general. In this district is Seisonkaku, built at the end of the Edo period by the ruling Maeda Lord for his mother. It is a stunning example of the grandiosity of the wealthiest of Japanese daimyo. There is often a perception of Japan as a place of simplicity, but this was not the case for the ruling elites who had access to the best artisans and artists of the period.

After touring this exquisite villa, we will make our make back to Kanazawa Station or your hotel to finish the tour. Don’t hesitate to ask you guide for recommendations on what to do or eat in the city for the rest of your stay.

As mentioned before, please choose one of the three options above and let your guide know when you meet up in the morning. If you aren’t sure, leave it up to your guide to choose the one that best suits you!


09:00Start 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. If you want to start from your hotel then we will start there instead!
09:30Walk through Yokoyasue-cho as we head towards the Gold Leaf Experience. Learn about changes that happened to this area over the past century. At the experience itself, enjoy placing the gold on a plate as they have been doing for centuries!
10:40Pass through Omicho Market and learn more about the history of Kanazawa and this market's role in it. Grab a bite to eat if you want as well.
11:00Walk around Oyama Shrine and its unique gate and shrine garden. Cross the bridge and enter the outer edge of the castle and the beautifully kept Japanese garden.
11:30Lunch time at COIL, the make-your-own-sushi restaurant. You can choose what you want to put inside so this is great from everyone!
12:30Leave the restaurant and head out for the afternoon.

You can choose from the three options listed above so each one has a different schedule. Enjoy a tour for how you are feeling and what you are looking for!
18:00All of the options should arrive at Kanazawa Station or your hotel at around 6pm. Say your farewells and enjoy the rest of your travels! Don't forget to ask your tour guide for recommendations.




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
  • Gold Leaf Placement Experience
  • Hosomaki Sushi Lunch
  • Entry Fee and Matcha at Shima (Geisha Tea House) OR Ninja Weapons Museum and Ninja Star Experience OR Matcha Experience at Gyokusen-an and Entry Fee at Seisonkaku


  • Accommodation

Other Information

  • 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.


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.

(Travel Agency License No: Nagano 2-562)
Snow Monkey Resorts Tours
Nagano City Kurita 1015-7, NK Copo 202, Nagano, 380-0921 Japan
Tel: (81)26-219-6256
Member of All Nippon Travel Agents Association
Travel Service Supervisor: Tomoko Kasahara