Well, we’ve reached the last leg of Sophie and Oana’s Japan 2015 holiday blog series. After travelling around Tokyo, Sendai, Kyoto, Nara and Osaka… we spent two days in Kanazawa before flying home. It’s hard to believe this was back in April, when the sakura was in bloom, and also that it’s taken me this long to blog about it!
Kanazawa was the home of the powerful Maeda clan, who ranked second only to the Tokugawa before they established a shogunate. The family’s most powerful head, Toshiie Maeda, was a leading general of Oda Nobunaga and close confidante of Toyotomi Hideyoshi. Kanazawa Castle was the seat of the the Maedas from 1583 until the end of the Edo period, and burnt down several times over the centuries.
The more castles you visit in Japan, the more you realise a lot of them are reconstructed. But that doesn’t mean Kanazawa Castle isn’t worth visiting – it overlooks the beautiful Kenrokuen garden and offers splendid views of the city. The castle’s inside is completely modern and houses relics emblazoned with the iconic Maeda mon and displays of traditional carpentry that show how the castle was constructed. There are also some very steep steps that take you to the top of the castle, which is worth the climb for the amazing views.
Interestingly, Kanazawa University used to occupy the former castle grounds until the early 1990s. A project is underway to rebuild the castle’s buildings, after the main keep was burned down in 1602, and so far its two turrets and main storehouse have been completed. Oana and I started our trip around Kanazawa at the castle, which I would recommend as you get some great views and the castle grounds are great for some exploration or a picnic. At night, the castle is lit up and if you’re lucky enough to visit when the sakura trees are in bloom, it’s absolutely beautiful.
There’s more to come on the blog about our time in Kanazawa, so stay tuned!