3 Must-See Historic & Cultural Architectures in Kanazawa City, Ishikawa
In the previous article, I introduced to you Tsuzumimon Gate at Kanazawa Station in Ishikawa Prefecture, two pillars of which have the shape of a hand drum (tsuzumi), the traditional Japanese instrument. Here I would like to show you other tourist spots around Kanazawa, where you will find deeply rooted unique local cultures of Kanazawa.
1. Japanese, Western and Chinese Style Blended Shinmon Gate of Oyama Shrine
As you go along the main street in Kanazawa City heading towards Kenrokuen Garden and 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, two of the major famous tourist spots in Kanazawa, the Shinmon Gate of Oyama Shrine will come into your sight on the way.
Oyama Shrine has an extraordinary atmosphere with its shrine gate made with stained glass, which showcases a unique example of the mixture between Japanese and Western culture. The Shinmon Gate of Oyama Shrine was constructed with an uncommon technique called “pseudo Western architectural method.” And on top of that, the gate also has a Chinese element to it.
Oyama Shrine with the unique Shinmon gate was constructed no more than 200 years ago, which makes the shrine relatively new compared to other shrines around Japan. Oyama Shrine today enshrines the soul of Toshiie Maeda, the feudal warlord (from around the 16th century) who laid the foundation of the Kaga Clan (present Kanazawa) but the construction of the shrine had been hindered for a long time due to circumstances. It was first in the Meiji Period (1868-1912) that the old vassals of the clan could finally construct the shrine to enshrine the soul of their old master. In Kanazawa, Toshiie Maeda is much loved by the locals still today.
The strained glass glittering with the sun light filtered through it enhances the sublime atmosphere of the Shinmon gate. The lord Toshiie Maeda should be very proud and pleased.
Tsukiji Hongwanji: A Unique Temple Not Seen Elsewhere
2. Various Stone Walls of Kanazawa Castle
This stone wall can be found on the way from Kenrokuen Garden to Kanazawa Castle Park. This magnificent structure actually makes only a small part of the remaining castle walls in Kanazawa Castle Park. Let’s take a look at some of the stone walls here in the photos.
Kanazawa Castle Park is a very unique place in Japan where you can see so many kinds of stone walls that it is referred to as “museum of stone walls.” There are many historic books that tell the background of those stone walls.
It takes about 40 minutes to look around all the stone walls in the park and if you also want to visit other attractive architectures here such as Ishikawamon Gate, Gojukken Nagaya and Hashizumemon Gate, you will need at least two hours. A great variety of stone walls here ranging from the magnificent one mentioned above to the one with more peculiar taste will surely grab the hearts of the fans of Japanese castles. Even someone who is not particularly interested in castles might well be impressed by the variety and absorbed by their attractiveness.
3. Umenohashi Bridge Featured in a Famous Novel
Let me conclude this article by recommending to you a nice tourist spot that you will probably miss out if you are touring only around the main street or moving by bus or taxi.
It is the Umenobashi Bridge, which was featured in a novel titled “Giketsu Kyoketsu,” one of the most important works by Kyoka Izumi, the famous Japanese writer who is originally from Kanazawa. When I was photographing this atmospheric bridge, a pair of tourists in Japanese traditional kimono dresses was crossing the bridge to the Higashi Chaya District on the other side. It was such a nice and picturesque sight.
Both sides of the river will be decorated by cherry blossoms in spring and lightly with white snow in winter. At night, the street lights will fantastically be reflected on the surface of the river. The scenery here, changing its expression by weather, day and night cycles and seasons, is always beautiful and well worth checking out if you ever have a chance to visit Kanazawa.
Besides the spots I have introduced to you here and in the previous article, Kanazawa also has many other interesting tourist posts including 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Higashi Chaya District, old samurai mansions in Nagamachi, Tera-machi and Kazue-machi. Kanazawa is a great place to take a stroll around while looking at various architectures and thinking about their historical and cultural background.