Kanazawa Castle 金沢城
The elegant former headquarters of Kanazawa's mighty Maeda clan
Feel a sense of the historical greatness of the wealthy Maeda clan, who occupied the castle for hundreds of years and used it as their headquarters.
- The castle's moat, pond and beautiful Japanese garden
- A visit to Omicho Market, a short walk from the castle
- The view of the restored grounds from the top
How to Get There
To reach the castle it is 20 minutes by bus or 10 minutes by taxi from Kanazawa Station . The most popular entrance is through the Ishikawamon Gate.
From the station there are several local buses, including the Kanazawa Loop Bus, which stops in front of the Ishikawamon Gate, located only a few meters from the entrance of Kenrokuen Garden .
Kanazawa Mido is a religious school that was founded on the original castle site.
It is located adjacent to the famous Kenrokuen Garden, which was once the castle's private outer garden.
It has the biggest variety of stone walls of any castle in Japan.
A long history
Kanazawa Castle is a partially-restored castle located within the Kanazawa Castle Park, directly across from Kenrokuen Garden . The Maeda family began construction in 1583, and the family resided there for fourteen generations until 1869. Today, not much remains of the original castle, which has burned down several times over the course of many centuries because of war and natural disasters. Two of the surviving structures of the castle are the Ishikawamon Gate and Sanjikken Nagaya Warehouse. During the Meiji period (1868-1912) the castle became Japanese army headquarters, and then was used by Kanazawa University until 1996.
Since then, a major restoration project has been underway, recreating the structures using original construction techniques. Although castles in Japan were built mainly for defense purposes, long periods of peace during the Edo period allowed architects to put emphasis on aesthetics, resulting in the beautiful horizontal lines of the roof gables and the carved wooden decorations underneath, called gegyo.
In the center of the castle park, you can enter three restored large-scale wooden buildings for a small fee, which are reconstructions of the buildings that existed 125 years ago. These are the Hishiyagura Turret, Gojukken Najaya Warehouse, and Hashizumemon Tsuzuki Turret. Inside the buildings, there are intricate displays and models of the castle, showing the various architectural techniques used in the restoration.
Guarding the castle
Take a look out of the narrow windows of the top floors of the turrets to see a view below of the castle grounds, moat and garden. You'll be able to imagine what it was like to defend the castle from enemy attackers, and get a sense of how important the solid and meticulous design of the castle was for protection.
In addition to the buildings, the castle also has a variety of stone walls which were constructed using a variety of different techniques. Some of the walls were made in a very sophisticated style, and look like a mosaic, whereas others have a more broken-up look. The castle park is sometimes referred to as a stone wall museum due to the different eras and styles in which the walls were constructed.