Nagamachi Samurai District

Posted on 01/07/2015

Next day, we went to the Nagamachi Samurai District, where you can visit old samurai houses. First, we went to the Ashigaru (low-ranking soldier) Museum. Two old Ashigaru houses are open to the public (free admission) and you can get a glimpse of how their lifestyle was in the old days. Both buildings were relocated to their current locations from other sites. The Shimizu family house was in use until 1992 and the Takanishi family house was used until 1994. The Takanishi house is the oldest remaining Ashigaru house in Kanazawa. In the olden days, an Ashigaru of the Kaga domain was given a detached house with a garden, not a Nagaya (row house), although the houses were relatively small because they were only low-ranking soldiers (but they wouldn’t complain if they could see the housing situation today!). Middle-ranking retainers were given bigger houses. 

At the remains of the Takada family house (feudal retainers of the Kaga domain), the Nagaya-mon Gate was restored and is open to the public. Nagaya-mon is a gate standing in the centre of the characteristic long, narrow row houses of the Samurai district. The garden is also worth a visit. 

A must-see place in the Samurai district is the house of the Nomura family, where you can walk into a real Samurai residence. There is a big sign outside the house so you can’t miss it. This house was awarded two Michelin stars in 2009. The Nomura family served the Maeda family and worked as the heads of Ouma-mawari (mounted soldiers who remained close to the lord to protect him) for several generations. The room on the raised floor level has a ceiling made of Japanese cypress. All the rooms were luxurious and the garden was impressive. There was a tea ceremony room upstairs but we decided to leave without having tea as a big group of European tourists had arrived. Next, we went to see the mud wall alleys, which often feature in guidebooks. 

In the street along the Ohnosho-yosui canal, there is a big rest house where you can pick up brochures and go to the toilet. Although you need to pay to enter the Nomura family house, Ashigaru Museum and the remains of the Takada family house are admission free – very good for tourists!

 

The Kuratsuki-yosui and Ohnosho-yosui canals flow into this area. They are the oldest canals in Kanazawa and were built to protect the centre of the Kaga domain from enemies or fire. We booked Tawara, a French restaurant by the Kuratsuki-yosui canal. We were escorted to the counter seats again following our visit to the “Shiki” restaurant. Last night, when we had a chat with Shiki’s chef, he asked me which other restaurants we were going to. I told him that we were going to Tawara and then he told me that he had just had a drink with Tawara’s owner the night before. It was a nice surprise! He also told me that I had good taste in restaurants, so I was really looking forward to having lunch at Tawara. At lunchtime, the restaurant offers only chef’s chosen course for 3,800 Yen. It’s a French restaurant but their dishes incorporate features of Japanese cuisine and are served on beautiful plates.  

Photo: Kanazawa City

Photo: Kanazawa City

Photo: Kanazawa City

Photo: Kanazawa City

Nomura Samurai Family Residence

Opening hours: 8:30 - 17:30 from April to September, 8:30 - 16:30 from October to March

(Closed on Dec 26 and 27)

Address: 1-3-32 Naga-machi, Kanazawa, Ishikawa

Post code: 920-0865

Admission: Adult 550 yen, High school student 400 yen, child 250 yen

Closest bus stop: Korinbo (香林坊)