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Higashi Chaya District


©Kanazawa City  

HOME > Japan’s Local Treasures > Higashi Chaya District


Discover one of the largest geisha districts in Kanazawa

Kanazawa City, Ishikawa Prefecture


©Kanazawa City


In Japanese culture, geisha houses have been used as venues for feasts and entertainment since the Edo period (1603–1867). Also referred to as chaya (meaning “teahouse”), they are where geisha entertained wealthy nobles and merchants. With a name that literally means “persons of the arts,” geisha are female Japanese entertainers who perform dances and play traditional Japanese instruments.
The central part of Kanazawa was once dotted with a number of geisha houses, but in 1820, these were moved to three specific districts away from the city center. The largest one of these—and arguably the most famous—is the Higashi Chaya district.
Here you can enter many of these historic, stunning chaya. Most are now house, cafes, and shops, while five remain as exclusive geisha houses, and two have been preserved as teahouses that can be easily visited for insights into this secret world. The Shima Teahouse has been converted into a museum. The rooms where the geisha performed and the kitchen are on display along with various instruments and items such as elaborate combs that were used by geisha. Drop by Kaikaro for a peek inside a still-operating teahouse; a tour costs just 750 yen, and the on-site cafe serves treats like matcha green tea with rakugan sweets and ohgon coffee, which is covered with edible gold leaves.
A geisha house is characterized by the beautiful lattice on the outer side of its first floor, called “kimusuko,” and the Japanese-style guest rooms located on the second floor. During the Edo period, geisha houses were the only two-story buildings permitted, making their appearance all the more striking.


©Kanazawa City

How to get there

Take the direct JR Hokuriku Shinkansen from Tokyo Station to Kanazawa Station (about 2 hours and 30 minutes).


Higashiyama, Kanazawa-shi, Ishikawa-ken


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