Experience Samurai Martial Arts in Kanazawa! Model Itinerary for 3 days/2 nights
During the Edo period (1600-1868), the Kaga domain, known as “Kaga Hyakumangoku” (Kaga one-million goku), was the second largest Taihan (domain with over 10,000 goku area granted by the Shogun during the Edo period) after the Shogun Tokugawa families. Kanazawa, the capital of the Kaga domain, inherited this history and still retains a strong trace of samurai culture.
Participants can experience martial arts such as Kyudo (Japanese archery), which is associated with the Kaga domain, tea culture, which was considered an essential accomplishment for samurai, former samurai residences, gardens that fuse samurai and tea cultures, and the samurai food culture. Also, D.T. Suzuki, a Buddhist scholar who globally spread Zen, which is associated with the martial arts and tea culture, was born in Kanazawa.
Through martial arts and traditional cultural experiences, participants to this castle town of Kanazawa can feel the true samurai code and spirit.
Table of Contents
- Day 1
- Day 2
- 9:00 a.m. Appreciate Japanese Swords at Shijimaya-Honpo
- 11:00 a.m. Feel the Spirit of ZEN in the Contemplative Space at the D. T. Suzuki Museum
- 1:30 p.m. Experience a Tea Ceremony at the Nishida Family Garden
- 3:00 p.m. Visit the Nomura Residence and the Garden in the Samurai District
- 6:30 p.m. Enjoy the Samurai Cuisine at a Long-established Japanese Restaurant Otomoro
- Day 3
9:30 a.m. Stroll Through Kenrokuen Garden, Feeling a Sense of the Feudal Lord’s Mind
Kenrokuen Garden embodies Kaga Hyakumangoku culture. It is one of the three major Japanese gardens, along with Mito Kairakuen Garden and Okayama Korakuen Garden, featuring a strolling-style garden plan belonging to a feudal lord of the Edo period.
Inside this strolling-style garden awaits a large pond in the center, paths around the pond, artificial mountains, small islands in the pond, and tea houses dotted across the spacious grounds. Visitors can admire the scenery by strolling through the garden, which is opposite to the appreciation-style gardens, where visitors are welcome to enjoy the garden view from a tea house.
10:30 a.m. Kyudo Experience at the Ishikawa Prefectural Budokan
Kyudo (Japanese archery) has thrived in Kanazawa since the Edo period. A beginner usually needs several months of practice to draw a bow, but in this program participants can learn how to safely shoot an arrow at a target in 90 minutes under the instruction of experts.
2:00 p.m. Kendo Experience at Saishikan
After lunch, participants can try their hands at Kendo. You may think of Kendo as an intense combat sport, but in this program, it is represented as “KENDO” (Kind, Enjoy, Natural Design, Open), that even beginners can enjoy. The instructor is a skilled coach who led his middle school team to a national championship.
9:00 a.m. Appreciate Japanese Swords at Shijimaya-Honpo
Japanese swords can be seen at many museums, but in this program, participants can actually hold and appreciate real samurai swords. Guests will also have a chance to see a thrilling performance of Iaido, a martial art that uses real swords. The owner is a rank holder and will explain everything in English.
11:00 a.m. Feel the Spirit of ZEN in the Contemplative Space at the D. T. Suzuki Museum
Zen is strongly linked to Japanese culture, such as Japanese martial arts and the art of tea. This facility embodies the philosophy of D. T. Suzuki, a Buddhist philosopher who spread Zen and other Eastern and Japanese cultures and philosophies to the world. His philosophy is reflected in this museum, including the architecture, which resembles the “hojo” style in which Zen monks live, and the exhibition style, in which no explanations are provided near the works.
1:30 p.m. Experience a Tea Ceremony at the Nishida Family Garden
An experience in afternoon tea ceremony. The samurai not only practiced martial arts, but also tea culture as a social accomplishment. Participants can learn everything from basic tea ceremony etiquette to “Gojifuku,” where they prepare tea by themselves, in Kanazawa’s oldest tea ceremony room at the 400-year-old Nishida Family Garden. English interpretation services are also available.
3:00 p.m. Visit the Nomura Residence and the Garden in the Samurai District
The Nagamachi Samurai District is an area where the samurai of the Kaga domain lived, the historic remnants of which you can still see today. The Nomura residence stands in a corner of the area and is a “shoin-zukuri” style building, a common style of samurai residences, and a prestigious garden that fuses samurai and tea culture. Samurai swords and armor are also on display in the residence.
6:30 p.m. Enjoy the Samurai Cuisine at a Long-established Japanese Restaurant Otomoro
The ancestors of Kanazawa’s long-established Japanese restaurant, Otomoro, where hocho samurai (samurai chefs) who served the Kaga domain. Participants can enjoy the art of samurai cuisine that has been passed down from generation to generation, including banquet dishes served to feudal lords, samurai, and VIP guests from other domains.
10:30 a.m. Experience Zen Meditation at Eian-ji Temple
Zen was deeply ingrained in samurai culture and served as a spiritual pillar for samurai. Participants can practice Zen meditation in a peaceful setting at Eian-ji Temple, which is closely associated with the Maeda clan, the feudal lord of the Kaga domain and located far from the bustling city. The chief priest, dressed as a mountain priest and having backpacked around the world, will provide an overview of Zen and Japanese religion in English.
Feel the samurai code and spirit through samurai-themed cultural experiences in the historical town of Kanazawa.
How’s about this 3-day/2-night model itinerary through the castle town of Kanazawa and the experience of samurai culture?
Through experiencing Japanese martial arts such as Kyudo and Kendo, the traditional cultural experience of tea ceremony, which was a samurai’s accomplishment, and visiting a samurai residence where you can glimpse the samurai life, you will be able to feel the samurai code and spirit firsthand. Try any that strikes your fancy and see deeper into this truly remarkable area.