One of the most picturesque parts of Kanazawa, Higashi Chaya District is a part of Japan untouched by time. Featuring rows of tea houses dating back hundreds of years, the district is a living example of Japan’s cultural past and a charming setting no matter what the Kanazawa weather.
The district’s Edo-era tea houses were once populated by geisha and samurai. While it is no longer possible to meet a samurai, Kanazawa is one of the few places in Japan where geisha still work. Along with the Gion area of Kyoto, it’s one of only two geisha quarters nationally recognized for its cultural value.
Many craft shops ideal for souvenir shopping are located in the area and visitors even see the interior of a tea house almost 200 years old, which exhibits the living quarters of 19th century geisha. The area is equally as stunning at night, when the teahouses are illuminated. As the sun sets, keep an eye out for geisha -approximately 50 are said to still work in the area.
While other wonders of the city – including Kanazawa Castle and Kenroku-en Garden – may beckon, this is the perfect place to begin your exploration.