The Castle is often mentioned as a must-see when traveling to Kanazawa, but its interest doesn’t seem so obvious. Conveniently located in the vicinity of Kenroku-en garden and the 21rst Century Museum of Contemporary Art, the visit of the castle is quite fast, as there is not much to see.
First built in 1583 by the Maeda (or Kaga) clan, the current castle, dating back to 1881, is only a reconstruction as the original buildings were destroyed a number of times by earthquakes or fires. The main keep, as a matter of fact, was never rebuilt and Kanazawa city doesn’t show any intent of recreating it.
From the primary castle only remain stonewalls from the 17th century and the main gate Ishikawa-mon, built in 1788. The gate passed, a marked path unfolds, with an unobstructed view. The vast green lawns thus offer flat landscapes, without any characteristic feature.
History and picturesque amateurs might be disappointed, as the castle doesn’t have any hallmark, especially since the university moved out from the castle’s premises in the 1990’s. The wood paneling rooms of the reconstructed building stay desperately empty. Fortunately, the Japanese garden offer great compensation to visitors.
Kanazawa Castle is however a nice visit in the beginning of spring, when the cherry trees bloom. They are spread here and there in the park but still offer a beautiful panorama.
How to get to Kanazawa Castle
Located next to Kenroku-en Garden and the 21rst Century Museum of Contemporary Art.
By bus from the station: about 20 minutes / ¥200 (~US$ 1.90)
Location reachable with the JRP : order your Japan Rail Pass (from ~US$ 281)
Get your Japanese Yens free of charge
Open every day, all year long:
- Summer (From March 1 to October 15): from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.
- Winter (From October 16 to the end of February): from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
How long / when to visit
About fifteen to thirteen minutes
Best in spring, during the sakura blooming (beginning to mid-April)
"Light-up" (night illumination) of the garden on Friday, Saturday and the evening before a holiday, from sunset to 9 p.m.
金沢城公園 (Kanazawa-jô kôen: Kanazawa Castle Park)