Visit these 2 Traditional Geisha Districts of Kanazawa

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  • During the Edo Period (17th till 19th century), Kanazawa was a very large city rivaling Kyoto and Tokyo. It was a center of business, trade and entertainment. There are many tourist attractions in the city, such as the Kenroku-en garden, Omicho market, Kanazawa castle and others. It is also famous for its old traditional style buildings which were once home to merchants, geisha, and samurais. Let me introduce to you the two famous Geisha districts of Kanazawa.

    Higashi Chaya


    ‘Chaya’ is translated as ‘tea house’, and this is where geisha performances take place. During the Edo period, it was a great place to be entertained for many. Usually, these tea houses are located outside of the city. Kanazawa is known for its well-preserved tea houses, ancient cafes, and shops.

    Higashi Chaya is also known as the ‘Eastern Chaya’ district, and this is known as the largest and most interesting one. A special experience you should definitely not skip in this district is the famous ‘gold leaf tea’ ceremony (room pictured below). During this ceremony, tea is served in a room that is fully covered in gold. It gives you a very rich feeling, sipping your favorite tea in a gold ambiance! If you want to remember your experience, there is a shop in Higashi Chaya which sells gold leaf products for you to take home.


    Famous tea houses in this district are Shima Chaya and Kaikaro Chaya. These tea houses charge a small entrance fee, and are open every day. The Shima tea house doubles as a museum, and different items used by geishas are on display.

    Click here for access information.

    Nishi Chaya


    Nishi Chaya is also known as the ‘Western Chaya’ district, and it is a bit smaller than the Higashi Chaya district. It is within walking distance of the famous Ninja Temples of Kanazawa. It not as crowded as Higashi Chaya. This is maybe why it is a quiet and nice place to walk around, as it has many traditional cafes and shops that are not very crowded. But keep in mind that not all of the houses are open to the public.

    A museum called Nishi Chaya Shiryokan (pictured above) displays various historical artifacts from the district. Walking tours are also available here. Admission to this museum is free and is located at the southern end of the Nishi Chaya district. It is open every day, and it has a replica of an ancient tea room inside which is the central attraction of the museum.

    Click here for access information.

    National Treasure


    Besides these 2 districts, Kanazawa has an another small geisha district called Kazuemachi. You can find everything there, including row houses and shops. One special thing about this district is that you can hear the sound of ‘Shimasen’ here, the traditional Japanese three-stringed musical instrument.

    These places are a wonderful treasure for future generations as they preserve the age old tradition of the geisha and tea ceremonies. They also hold memories of those glorious days of samurai culture. They are classified as Japanese cultural assets for good reasons, do not forget to add them to your bucket list when you are in Kanazawa!

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