3 Museums in Kanazawa You Can Visit in A Day

There is one famous and big museum in Kanazawa, that is usually in the spotlight of all travel guides and recommendations: the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art. As the "shining star" of Kanazawa’s cultural/museum scene, it’s frequented by a lot of visitors from all over the globe. However, this museum is not the only one that is worth a visit! Lot’s of small museums are hidden among the city center and enable you to learn more about Japanese culture as well as famous inhabitants the city has seen in the past centuries.

In this article, I will introduce you to my three favorite ones! As they are all located in the city center and easy to reach, you can combine a nice city walk with enjoying Kanazawa’s finest culture!

1. Suzuki Daisetsu Museum

DT Suzuki Museum

In this museum, visitors learn all about the renowned Buddhist philosopher Daisetz Teitaro Suzuki, also known as D.T. Suzuki (1870-1966), who was born in Kanazawa (Honda-machi district) and brought the culture of Zen Buddhism to the Western world. He was traveling his whole life around the globe, giving lectures about his ideas and philosophy while developing numerous works that were translated in many languages. His life was truly unique as he dedicated it to his studies as well as educating people about this special philosophy.

You can reach this museum easily by foot (only 10 minutes by foot away from the Hirosaka area, where the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art is located) or by bus. The first thing you will notice about the building is the minimalistic architecture of the museum which is very fascinating and has a soothing effect. As soon as you enter the building, you already feel more grounded and calm. As the museum is not only a place for learning but also for mindfulness and meditation, this is reflected in the architecture and the design of the complex. It consists of three areas, the exhibition space where you can learn about D.T. Suzuki’s life and see some old photographs of his travels (and cats!), the learning space, where you can read about his thoughts and the contemplative space, where you have the opportunity to mediate, relax and self reflect. 

Zen Garden

Especially the last area is what makes this museum so special in my opinion: this Zen area, consisting of a large water pool and surrounded by vast trees, offers a quiet space that invites you to sit and stay for a long time. In summer time, the view is very green while in fall season, the leaves are colorful. Therefore, whenever you go, you will enjoy a different view in the contemplative space, making it so special and diverse.  

Make sure to take your time. Bonus point: you can also admire the Zen area from the outside and enjoy a different view! 

Opening hours: 9:30 am - 5:00 pm

Address: 3 Chome-4-20 Hondamachi, Kanazawa, Ishikawa 920-0964, JAPAN

Admission: 310 Yen

Closest bus stop: Honda-machi Bus Stop (Kanazawa Loop Bus)

Website

2. Yoshiro and Yoshio Taniguchi Museum of Architecture, Kanazawa

This museum has been built just recently and is located in in the beautiful Tera-machi district of Kanazawa. Here, you can learn all about the life and works of the two famous architects and city planners Yoshiro (born in Kanazawa in 1904) and his son Yoshio Taniguchi (born 1937 in Tokyo) and discover the impact their work had on the world of architecture. 

The building itself was designed by Yoshio Taniguchi. The minimalistic and functional architecture of the building is impressive and stunning: closed walls of reinforced concrete are side-by-side with open walls of steel-frame structure, covered in glass. The interior of the building shows a combination of different spaces: open lounge spaces, a water garden, a three story high hall - if you love modern architecture, you will surely spend a lot of time just enjoying the design of the building.

And by the way, if this museum’s architecture feels a little familiar to you, that’s because Yoshio Taniguchi also designed the D.T. Suzuki museum!

Tea Room

The museum consists of a permanent exhibition space in the second floor and a temporary exhibition space (temporary exhibitions change every three months) in the basement. The permanent exhibition shows a replica of the famous Japanese-styled room Hiroma and tea room Chashitsu, both originally belonging to the State Guest House building of Akasaka Palace.

These rooms aimed to introduce foreign guests to the aesthetic Japanese design as well as to the culture of celebrating and dining together. Take a close look at the different wooden designs of the ceiling, the colors as well as the slight asymmetry of the room.

Bonus point: you also have perfect view of the Saigawa and the city center thanks to floor length glass windows. 

The friendly staff is always happy to explain more about the exhibition and in the museum gift shop you can find some interesting items for improving your interior design at home!

Opening hours: 9:30 am - 5:00 pm

Address: 5-1-18 Tera-machi, Kanazawa-Shi, Ishikawa 921-8033, JAPAN

Admission: 310 Yen

Closest bus stop: Hirokoji Bus Stop (Kanazawa Loop Bus)

Website

3. Ashigaru Museum

Ashiagru Museum

For this small museum, you will leave the modern Japan with its urban and fascinating architecture and travel back in time to the Edo period: located in the popular Samurai District of Kanazawa (Nagamachi), this small museum gives you an insight about the living situation of a low-rank Samurai, the so called Ashigaru.

You can visit the original houses of the Edo era and not only learn about their lifestyle, but also their duties while walking through the different tatami rooms. Furthermore, you get a good impression of how life must have been at those times for the Samurai. The highlight of the houses is the view of the small but beautiful garden. Especially on a summer day, the functional design of the house (construction of very well placed sliding doors!) offers a cool breeze while you sit down at the garden area and just relax.

Ashigaru Interior

The museum is not huge, however you can still spend some time in the houses. The friendly staff can answer your questions and explain you the different kinds of rooms. As this house is not as famous as the Nomura Samurai Family House, you won’t have too many visitors interrupting your visit and the atmosphere is not disturbed.

Bonus point: The location is perfect if you want to spend more time in Nagamachi district and enjoy other Samurai houses! 

Samurai district

Opening hours: 9:30 - 17:00 

Address: 1-9-3 Nagamachi, Kanazawa, Ishikawa Post code: 920-0865

Admission: free

Closest bus stop: Korinbo (All bus lines) 

Website

The next time you’ll come to the city, please consider visiting one of those hidden museums of Kanazawa!

A side note: the COVID-19 related state of emergency caused a lot of trouble to those small museums: they were forced to close down for a long time and are just now starting to be able to receive visitors again. Therefore, if you visit, please always follow the rules and guidelines, issued by the museum to help preventing the spread of the Coronavirus. Staff will check your body temperature and require you to hand-sanitize frequently and wear a mask. Please be mindful of the new situation and support the museum as best as you can! 

Also, please note that opening hours may vary due to COVID-19 related regulations.

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