‘Shima’ – old teahouse listed as a national important cultural asset

Posted on 01/07/2015

At the end of our trip, we decided to go to Higashi-chaya district. We weren’t able to make it to Nishi-chaya district, another teahouse district, but I believe this is the biggest teahouse district in Kanazawa. There are some kimono rental shops around the district where we saw some ladies walking in kimono. Foreign tourists were talking to them and taking photos. In Higashi-chaya district, there are cafes and shops in old teahouse buildings.


One old teahouse, “Shima”, is listed as a national important cultural asset and is open to the public. It was so lucky that we were allowed to go into the teahouse. We went to see the upstairs first. There is a Japanese teahouse guest room on the first floor and, unlike townhouses, there are no closet or partition walls in teahouses. What a beautiful room with the walls in a vivid sanguine color! Guests enjoy Geiko performances (geisha girls, Japanese professional female entertainers) while sitting against the Tokonoma (alcove in a traditional Japanese room where art or flowers are displayed). 

It’s a historic teahouse, built in 1820, and I could hear squeaking noises on the floor as I walked. There is a kitchen on the ground floor but they would cater food from restaurants to serve their customers. According to a shop assistant, although there are still some traditional teahouses remaining in Kanazawa where you can meet Geishas, you have to pay a lot of money and they don’t accept first-time customers – a system that has remained unchanged right up to today. I really wanted to have a cup of tea somewhere on this street but I was so full from my big lunch that I was unable to manage even a drink... so we just popped into some shops and went back to our hotel to collect our luggage.

Photo: Kanazawa City

Photo: Kanazawa City