兼六園 - A former castle garden, Kenrokuen dates back from the 17th century and is rated one of Japan’s top three gardens. The name means ‘combined six’, referring to the six attributes of perfection (seclusion, artificiality, spaciousness, antiquity, abundant water and broad views).
Inside the park make sure to enjoy a tea ceremony in the beautiful museum-like pavilion, Seison-kaku. During winter, the tree’s branches are supported with ropes via a post at each tree’s centre, to prevent the branches from cracking during heavy snow storms (making for a very special sight). The ropes are removed late March, at the time I visited. Visit early in the morning (preferably when the park opens) as the place can get very crowded, especially during weekends.
Map of Kenrokuen garden
Use this link to see the Kenrokuen garden map on Google maps.
How to get there
Kenroku-en is located in the centre of Kanazawa, next to the castle park, southeast of the train station. The city of Kanazawa houses several nice museums and also has an old Samurai and Geisha district, making it worth visiting a bit longer. The city is not connected to Japan’s Shinkansen train network yet, but will be in 2014. The park is open year round from 7:00 - 18:00 (Mar. 1 - Oct. 15) and 8:00 - 16:30 (Oct. 16 - Feb 28). Entrance fee: 300 Yen.
Kenrokuen address: Kenrokumachi 1-4, Kanazawa-shi (Tel. 076-234-3800)
Official website: www.pref.ishikawa.jp/siro-niwa
Nomura Samurai house garden (Kanazawa)
This small but beautifully laid out courtyard garden is part of Nomura Samurai house and worth visiting if time permits. The museum inside exhibits several Samurai swords, costumes, etc.
How to get there
The Nomura Samurai house is located in Kanazawa’s Samurai district, south of the train station and west of the castle park. The garden is open all days except December 26 and 27, from 8:30 to 17:30 (Oct through Mar until 16:30). Entrance fee: 500 Yen.
Nomura Samurai house address: 1-3-32 Nagamachi Kanazawa, Ishikawa Prefecture (Tel. 76-221-3553).
Official website: www.nomurake.com