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A handy guide to hands-on fun in Kanazawa

A handy guide to hands-on fun in Kanazawa

At the JTB Rail Pass Counter, we often get questions about things to do in Japan ranging from the usual fruit picking to other unique Japanese experiences. The good news is that there are plenty of hands-on experiences for visitors ranging from technical things like making your own kitchen knife, to something simple like fishing your own scallops. 


However, Kanazawa City (金沢市 Kanazawa-shi) stands out as the one place where you can have multiple unique and fun hands-on experiences that are also easy to access—most attractions are either a walking distance or a bus ride away from Kanazawa Station (金沢駅)! In case you don’t understand their obsession with beautifying everything they toucheven sushi—head over to this article for a read!


Even chirashi (ちらし) has to look pretty here (Image credit: A7design1 / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)


Now, let’s immerse ourselves in the traditional arts and crafts of Ishikawa Prefecture (石川県 Ishikawa-ken) through some good old hands-on experiences!


1. Coat everything in gold

Now you can eat your gold-coated sushi with your gold-coated chopsticks (Image credit: Kanazawa City / JNTO)


Gold leaf (金箔 kinpaku) production in this prefecture started over 500 years ago. Back then, they were made by specialists and used by important people for important things like coating castles and all that jazz. Today, it is used by practically anyone to coat anything and everything including vanilla ice cream. Learn more about the gold leaves at the museum, or dive right in at a nearby store where you can display your artistic talents using these gold leaves too. 


Make one of these exquisite pieces yourself, or buy it from the shop. (Image credit: JTA / JNTO)


Kanazawa Yasue Gold Leaf Museum (金沢市立安江金箔工芸館)
Address: 1-3-10 Higashiyama, Kanazawa, Ishikawa 920-0831
Nearest station: Kanazawa Station (金沢駅)
Nearby attraction:
Higashi Chaya District (ひがし茶屋街)
Opening hours: 9am5pm
Admission fee: ¥310 (General admission), ¥210 (Senior citizens), Free (Child/Student)
Tel: +81 76-251-8950

Kanazawa Bikazari Asano (かなざわ 美かざり あさの)
Address: 1-8-3 Higashiyama, Kanazawa, Ishikawa 920-0831
Nearest station: Kanazawa Station (金沢駅)
Nearby attraction:
Higashi Chaya District (ひがし茶屋街)
Opening hours: 9am6pm (Experiences 9am ~ 4pm, closed Tuesdays)
Experience fee: Refer here for rates and application
Tel: +81 76-240-8911


2. Add some colours to your life

Are you dye-ing to try one of these beautiful Kimonos? (Image credit: Kanazawa City / JNTO)


Another traditional craft dating back about 500 years ago, Kaga-Yuzen (加賀友禅) is a dyeing technique that is definitely not dying today. Kaga-Yuzen is characterized by its use of 5 specific colours to create realistic natural motifs of flora and fauna. Try on one of the beautifully dyed pieces and parade them all around the city as you visit the other attractions. You could try your hand at the dyeing process or simply watch a master do it.


What are they laughing about? The joke here is that my colouring skills will never reach this level (Image credit: Kanazawa City / JNTO)


Kaga-Yuzen Kimono Center (加賀友禅会館)
Address: 8-8 Koshomachi, Kanazawa, Ishikawa 920-0932
Nearby attraction: Kenrokuen (兼六園)
Opening hours: 9am5pm
Admission fee: ¥310 (Adults), ¥210 (Children)
Kimono rental and dyeing experience fee: Refer here
Tel: +81 76-224-5511

Nagamachi Yuzen Kan (長町友禅館)
Address: 2-6-16, Nagamachi, Kanazawa, Ishikawa 920-0865
Nearby attraction: 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art (金沢21世紀美術館)
Opening hours: 9:30am–5pm (Closed Tuesday, Wednesday and Dec–Feb)
Admission fee: ¥350
Kimono rental (for ladies only) fee: ¥1,300–¥4,000 (+ tax)
Colouring experience fee: ¥4,000 (+ tax)
Tel: +81 76-264-2811


3. Paint a lot on your plate

Unleash the (creative) beast (Image credit: JTA / JNTO)


This region is also very well-known for their baked goods (pottery in this case, not food), one of them is Kutani Porcelain (九谷焼 Kutani-yaki) which is coloured as loudly and vibrantly as possible.


While the Kutani Art Museum (石川県九谷焼美術館 Ishikawa-ken Kutaniyaki bijutsukan) is quite a distance away from Kanazawa City, you can easily access it with a short train ride and a 5-minute walk from the nearest JR station. If you’d rather see and do some hands-on in Kanazawa instead, there are places where you can paint your own Kutani Porcelain. Link in below.


Kutani Kosen Kiln (九谷光仙窯)
Address: 5-3-3 Nomachi, Kanazawa, Ishikawa 921-8031
Nearby attraction: 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art (金沢21世紀美術館)
Opening hours: 9am5pm (Closed 1 January)
Experience fee: Refer here. Call to reserve first.
Tel: +81 76-241-0902


Ohi Museum (大樋美術館)
Address: 2-17 Hashibacho, Kanazawa, Ishikawa 920-0911
Nearby attraction: Kanazawa Castle Park (金沢城公園)Opening hours: 9am5pm (Closed Mondays)
Admission fee: ¥1,500 (Adults), ¥1,300 (Middle school students and younger) (Note: All entry & café-only tickets come with a set of cup of tea and traditional sweets)
Tel: +81 76-221-2397


Kutaniyaki Art Museum (石川県九谷焼美術館)
Address: 10-13 Jikata-machi, Daishoji, Kaga, Ishikawa 922-0861
Nearest station: JR Daishoji Station (大聖寺駅)
Opening hours: 9am–5pm (Closed Mondays)
Admission fee: ¥560 (Adults), ¥280 (Seniors aged 75 and older), Free (Students and Persons-with-disabilities)
Tel: +81 76-265-3320


4. More painting but now with gold

Another chance to display your artistic talents (or the lack thereof). (Image credit: Kanazawa City / JNTO)


Lacquer is traditionally used to waterproof wooden wares but of course, they had to beautify it with Maki-e (蒔絵) or else it would be literally unusable! After applying lacquer on their wood crafts, the Maki-e artisans would create beautiful patterns on them by applying gold, silver, and other powders to create intricate designs on them before they were deemed usable. As with most crafts found in Kanazawa, you can try your hand at creating one.


Address: 1-1-60 Hirosaka, Kanazawa, Ishikawa 920-0962
Nearby attraction: 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art (金沢21世紀美術館)
Opening hours: 10am–7pm
Maki-e experience fee: ¥3,000 (+ tax) (Please email or call at least one day before to book)
Email: nosaku@kanazawa.gr.jp
Tel: +81 76-263-8121


5. Make your own food and eat it too

If yours doesn’t look good, just quickly gobble it down to spare yourself the embarrassment. (Image credit: Kanazawa City & JNTO)


After enjoying the unending feast for your eyes, it is finally time to feast on some food! You can head over to the nearby Omicho Market (近江町市場 Ōmichō Ichiba) for some ridiculously decorated seafood rice bowls or you could keep with the theme and continue with the hands-on experience by making your own sushi portrait.  


If you have a sweet tooth, instead of heading over to Higashi Chaya District (東茶屋街) for Japanese confectionery, go to Ishikawa Local Products Center (石川県光物産館 Ishikawa ken kankō bussan-kan) and make your very own Japanese sweets! Not only that, it has other experiences that you can try out here tooall in one sweet spot.


Handmade wagashi experience (和菓子手づくり体験)
Address: 2-20 Kenrokumachi, Kanazawa, Ishikawa 920-0936
Nearby attraction: Kenrokuen (兼六園)
Opening hours: 9am6pm (For sweets-making, please reserve specific time slots here)
Experience fee: ¥1,500 (comes with a ¥500 shopping voucher to use at the venue)
Tel: +81 76-222-7788


Oshizushi making experience (押寿し体験厨房 金澤寿し)
Address: 1-15-6 Higashiyama, Kanazawa, Ishikawa 920-0831
Nearby attraction: Higashi Chaya District (ひがし茶屋街)
Opening hours: 11am4pm (Thursdays to Mondays), 12pm4pm (Wednesdays) (Closed on PH and Tuesdays)
Experience fee: Check here for different plans. Please call and book before going
Tel: +81 76-251-8869


If you are the artsy type, Kanazawa would pretty much be a hands-on heaven for you. Not only that, the city is easily accessible by direct trains from major cities like Tokyo and Osaka. The best part is there is always a must-see attraction nearby.


No matter which way you come from, there is a JR Pass that helps you save a ton of money travelling, and channel those excess funds to these hands-on experiences instead. You can even use the same JR Pass for day-trip visits to the other regions of the prefecture. For more information or questions on which JR Pass suits your travel plans, feel free to contact us via jtbjrcafe.sg@jtbap.com.


Header image credit: Kanazawa City / JNTO


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