Kanazawa Castle – Through Fire and Ashes

Kanazawa Castle mixes history, nature and fun to create the perfect location for a day out. Read our guide and prepare for your visit.

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Kanazawa Castle stands in the prefecture that shares its name on Japan’s central Honshu Island, the largest of the four main islands. Kanazawa Prefecture is known for its wealth of well-preserved Edo districts (Edo is a Japanese era ranging from 1603 to 1868), art museums and traditional regional handicrafts. An example is Kenroku-en Garden, right beside Kanazawa Castle, established in the 17th century and celebrated for its landscape design features including classic ponds and streams. Construction beginning in the late 16th century, the castle itself predates the garden.  

Want more castles? Check our article on Japan Castles – the 15 Best Japanese Castles

About Kanazawa Castle

In 1583, a prominent daimyo (feudal lord) began construction of the castle buildings and surrounding parkland. After a series of fires in 1631, 1759 and 1881, however, little of the original castle and park remained. Thus, the majority of what we can see today dates from the 1880s when reconstruction efforts were begun. The castle buildings were redesigned based on how they appeared in the 1850s, although, Ishikawa-mon Gate and two storehouses which survived the most recent fire still retain their late 18th century features. 

Having been carefully preserved for centuries the castle’s surrounding park is a miniature ecosystem all of its own. It is now the natural habitat of a variety of rare and endangered species such as raccoon dogs and wood mice that nest in the groves, green tree frogs that lay eggs in the trees over the pond and xenodermine snakes.  

 

Many of the insects found here are also found in more southern parts of Japan, due to the warm climate in the Hokuriku area. The temperate in the region allows biodiversity to thrive, meaning some 1,500 species can be found in the park. Today, the managers of Kanazawa Castle Park are keen on preserving this valuable ecosystem.

Further Info and Events

Two traditional festivals are the highlights of Kanazawa Castle’s yearly calendar. Both embrace the rich history of the castle and its surroundings, featuring historic reenactment and lots of fun. Take a look: 

1. Hyakumangoku Festival and Parade

This festival commemorates lord Toshiie Maeda’s arrival at Kanazawa Castle in 1583, a figure who is widely seen as a great benefactor to the Kanazawa region and an important driving force behind its development. The main draws for visitors are the big parade through the city of Kanazawa, the traditional entering of the Kanazawa Castle by the daimyo and the release of paper lanterns on the Asanogawa River.

 

Hyakumangoku Matsuri in Kanazawa. Floating Laterns the day before the big event :3 #toronagashi #hyakumangokufestival

A photo posted by Nana Banana (@visum_somnii) on

 

Visit the official site for more info on the Hyakumangoku Festival.

2. Fire Department New Years Parade

On the first Sunday of the year (or after the 5th of January), the Kanazawa Fire Department holds a New Years Parade where traditional uniforms are donned and the long-forgotten art of fire-ladder acrobatics is displayed to enraptured crowds. These skills may seem unnecessary today, but in times gone by allowed firefighters to jump between buildings to prevent the spread of fire and save lives. The event is held in the Kanazawa Castle Park and is a great piece of living history.

Visit the official site for more info on the Fire Department New Years Parade.

Opening Times

Kanazawa Castle Park and Kenroku-en Garden

March 1st – October 15th   07.00 am – 06.00 pm

October 16th – February 28/29th   08.00 am – 05.00 pm

Fees

Kanazawa Castle Park

adult  310 yen

child  100 yen (up to junior high school)

Kenroku-en Garden

adult  310 yen

child  100 yen (up to junior high school)

Address

920-0937 Ishikawa Prefecture, Kanazawa, Marunouchi 1-1

Access

The simplest way to get to Kanazawa Castle Park is by taking a taxi from Kanazawa Station. Should you be on a budget, the bus is your best bet: 

Kenroku-en Shita Station – best for Kanazawa Castle Park, a 10 minute bus ride from Kanazawa Station (google maps route)

Hirosaka Station – best for Kenroku-en Garden, a 10 minute bus ride from Kanazawa Station (google maps route)

The map above shows the Hokuriku Shinkansen route and the main stops Tokyo (東京), Takasaki (高崎), Nagano (長野), Tomiyama (富山) and Kanazawa (金沢).

Website

Kanazawa Castle Official Site

Samantha Khairallah

Samantha Khairallah

Originally from Switzerland, currently studying in Tokyo. With a wide array of interests, including travel, I'm passionate about what I write here at Compathy Magazine.



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