To enjoy the full feel of any city, sometimes it is a good idea to walk around it rather than take public transportation. For the unfamiliar traveler, this can potentially be a bit daunting, especially if you do not have a GPS with you. HOTEL MYSTAYS Kanazawa is only a five minute walk from Kanazawa Station. It is easy to travel to all of the sightseeing destinations and certainly worth a walk through the city. Kanazawa’s prestige garden and perhaps Japan’s most favored, Kenroku-en, should be on the top of your list. Take a thirty minute walk southeast and you will be able to reach this and the hub of Kanazawa’s hip and active downtown areas.
Kenroku-en is a massive expanse of fantastically well-kept Japanese-style gardening. It was originally built in direct connection with Kanazawa Castle, where the feudal lord of Kanazawa once lived. Because this famous castle was built on a hill, so was the garden. On its edges you can witness incredible views of the city. Within the garden’s grounds lie ponds, endless streams and rivers, pine, plum and cherry trees, and flowers of every color. Ornamental painted koi fill each pond and beautiful singing birds glide from tree to tree. Opening at 9am and closing around 5pm, it holds regular business hours. The ￥330 ticket to get in is well worth it.
There are main attractions within the garden: The oldest building in the garden, built in 1774, is Yūgao-tei, a teahouse set scenically at the edge of a pond. Kotoji-tōrō is a famous stone lantern with two legs, said to resemble the bridge of the koto, a Japanese instrument. This lantern is emblematic of the park and of Kanazawa and adds a peaceful atmosphere to the park. There are also well kept buildings on site, including Shigure, a famous rest house constructed by an old feudal lord and the well preserved house of a samurai; you can also visit them.
Unlike many parks in places like Tokyo, you cannot picnic here or bring blankets for lounging. Kenroku-en, while a gorgeous place, is only a park for viewing. The main two reasons are that there is a large amount of time and care put into the upkeep up of the park and the historical relics that reside there.
If you ever find yourself in Kanazawa, I implore you to take time and visit this treasure. Make sure the weather is fair and if you can control it, go in the early afternoon or more towards the later afternoon before they close. The afternoon sun will paint the park in beautiful colors.