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On the Japan Sea coast, in an area known as Hokuriku, is the appealing city of Kanazawa and the nearby peninsula the Noto-hanto. Meaning marsh of gold, Kanazawa has long been a wealthy area as evidenced by its fine collection of ancient buildings and gardens. It’s a very easy city to explore with a great culture of food and arts and plenty of sightseeing attractions, not the least of which is Kenroku-en, considered one of Japan’s top three traditional gardens. Originally the gardens formed part of the outer grounds of Kanazawa’s castle, parts of which have been rebuilt and are worth visiting. An entirely new structure is the magnificent 21st ...

On the Japan Sea coast, in an area known as Hokuriku, is the appealing city of Kanazawa and the nearby peninsula the Noto-hanto. Meaning marsh of gold, Kanazawa has long been a wealthy area as evidenced by its fine collection of ancient buildings and gardens. It’s a very easy city to explore with a great culture of food and arts and plenty of sightseeing attractions, not the least of which is Kenroku-en, considered one of Japan’s top three traditional gardens. Originally the gardens formed part of the outer grounds of Kanazawa’s castle, parts of which have been rebuilt and are worth visiting. An entirely new structure is the magnificent 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, designed by Pritzker-award winning architects Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa (SANAA). Compact areas of geisha teahouses (Higashi Chaya and Nishi Chaya) and old samurai residences (Nagamachi) can also be explored. About an hour’s drive northeast of the city, the Noto peninsula juts out into the sea and offers a rural escape that includes the fishing port of Wajima with its colorful morning market, lacquerware industry and display hall for the fabulous floats paraded around town in its summer and fall festivals. Ancient shrines and temples, secluded beaches and onsens and lovely coastal scenery are also part of the peninsula’s attractions.

Simon Richmond
About the Expert

Simon Richmond has written Rough Guides to Malaysia and Japan; Lonely Planet guides to India and Russia; and adventure travel guides for Frommer's on Australia, India, South America, and Southeast Asia.

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Simon Richmond for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    From March to November is the best weather but there's a certain magic to seeing Kenroku-en covered in snow in the middle of winter.