Kanazawa Castle 金沢城
Founder Maeda Toshiie
Year 1580
Type Hilltop
Condition Other Buildings
Alternate Name Oyama-jo
Admin's Rating ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Historical Site National Historic Site
Historical Value Top 100 Castles, Important Cultural Properties
Historical Artifacts Important Cultural Properties:
Ishikawa Gate, Tsurumaru Warehouse, Sanjukken Nagaya
Location Kanazawa, Ishikawa Pref.
Map Google Map
Access Kanazawa Sta. (Hokuriku Line), 15 minutes by bus
Website Kanazawa Castle Sightseeing
Visited June 10, 2006; Oct 29, 2016
Visitor Info. Park open 7am to 6pm (March 1-October 15), 8am to 5pm otherwise. The Buildings are open 9am to 4:30pm. The castle buildings are 310 yen for admission or you can get a combination ticket with the Kenrokuen Gardens for 500 yen. | Time Required: 180 mins
Notes This is an amazing castle. The castle alone is 4 stars, but when considering the samurai homes, castle town, and Kenrokuen Gardens, the complete site is a 5 star destination. The castle is much larger than it looks. I was not able to visit some areas this trip so I definitely want to visit again. Plan even more time than you might think you'll need and don't miss the Kenrokuen Gardens either.
History The castle was first founded by Sakuma Morimasa, a retainer of Oda Nobunaga, in 1580. He started to build one of the moats and to build up the castle town. After the Battle of Shizugatake in 1583, it was taken over by Maeda Toshiie, who built up the castle in earnest.

The castle originally had a large six-level main keep, but it burned down in 1602 and was never rebuilt. Kanazawa Castle had several fires that destroyed parts of the castle over the years. The Maeda clan ruled over the Kaga region from Kanazawa for 14 generations until the coming of the Meiji Restoration.

The picture above is of the Hashizume Gate and connected yagura. The gate separates the Ninomaru (second bailey) from the Sannomaru (third bailey).

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  • furinkazan on My Page    May 19, 2017 at 11:35 PM
    This is my 3rd visit to Kanazawa. The 2 first visits were in organized tours and the castle wasn't on the schedule. The first time i saw the Ishikawamon from the entrance of the Kenrokuen and the second time we went through this gate and i saw the Gojikken nagaya with its turrets, but that was it. Today i made the tour completely. I began with the Oyama shrine, where a nice statue of Maeda Toshiie on horse, stands. I went to the castle grounds and made a tour before the buildings opened. Sadly during the week the Sanjikken nagaya and the Tsurumaru storehouse stay closed. Apparently they are only open during the weekend. The reconstructed buildings are really a must see. From the castle i went to the Seisonkaku. I skipped the Kenrokuen. I saw it 2 times before. The Seisonkaku has very beautiful shoin zukuri and sukiya zukuri rooms. It is very well known for this. I went on to the Prefectural history museum and the Kaga-Honda museum. These are former storehouses in red bricks. They have some nice artifacts. I went there after to the nagamachi. I visited the Maeda Tosanokami museum, the Shinise merchant house, the Nomura house, the nagayamon of the former Takada home and the ashigaru Shiryokan. These are all interesting buildings. This evening i went back to the castle. To see the castle lit up. There was also a light and music show in the inner garden. There is a calendar for it. I received it at the information booth in the Kanazawa station, when i asked about the castle. I highly recommend to visit this site. Don't forget to ask an english pamphlet in the Kahokumon. You receive one on request.
  • snoworion on My Page    September 20, 2016 at 05:24 PM
    Visited on 13 October 2015. Intending to visit the next-door gardens but spent some time in the castle grounds and explored the magnificent stone walls that still stand today. There still remain some original buildings but the castle itself is slowly being rebuilt.
  • DiegoDeManila    June 26, 2016 at 07:35 PM
    Visited a second time on 01 July 2015 (https://withinstrikingdistance.wordpress.com/2016/06/26/field-report-kanazawa-castle-japan-01-july-2015/). The Hashizume-mon - destroyed in an 1881 fire - had just been reconstructed, so I was glad for the opportunity to see the new addition to the castle grounds. I regret not visiting the newly restored inner garden (also just completed that year) but it's something to look forward to for next time. Not sure what reconstruction they've lined up next (assuming that the Hashizume-mon and the garden wasn't the last of it), but I'm definitely hoping to see something new when I swing by again.
  • lidiamq on My Page    June 01, 2016 at 07:50 PM
    There's no castle but still some of the building that have been reconstructed. It is a very nice place to be when the cherry trees in flower
  • kiddus_i2003 on My Page    June 02, 2014 at 02:20 PM
    Have made three trips to Kanazawa and every time something new is started or finished at Kanazawa-jo.
  • bryanbaier on My Page    February 13, 2012 at 10:10 PM
    The grounds are nice but only the main gate is original. A nice thing to see in conjunction with Kenrokuen
  • Frank T. on My Page    October 16, 2011 at 08:27 PM
    No keep, but this is a great site. The town itself is worth the visit as well.
  • RaymondW on My Page    August 08, 2011 at 08:22 PM
    I went to this castle on the weekend as well as visiting three other castle sites in Fukui Prefecture. It was my third time visiting this castle. Kanazawa Castle rocks! As Rebolforces has already mentioned below, the local government is consistently working on improving this castle site. The Kahoku Gate, which was being reconstructed when I last visited in 2009, is now completed. They rebuilt it based on old photos and original plans using authentic materials including four different kinds of timber. The reconstruction finished in April 2010. Apart from adding the Kahoku Gate to the list of original and reconstructed structures, the local authorities have also restored the Imori Moat and filled it with water as it was during the Edo Period. Next to the moat, they have rebuilt one of the bases of an outlying turret. Still, these guys are not done yet. They are currently renovating the Ishikawa Gate and a section of the northern wall. Also, they are rebuilding the Ninomon of the Hashizume Gate, restoring it to its original masagata style with a first gate(rebuilt awhile back) and the second gate (under construction and to be built in a yaguramon style), and a solid killing zone from three sides in the middle. One of the staff also told me that they will be clearing some of the trees and bushes obscuring the ishigaki on the western side of honmaru. This castle site is getting better and better. I was lucky with this visit as I could go inside almost all the structures: Sanjikken Storehouse, Gojikken Storehouse, Ishikawa Gate, and Kahoku Gate. Also, the castle is signposted in both Japanese and English, and there are plenty of educational displays explaining the construction of Japanese castles using traditional methods and materials. This is a fabulous reconstructed castle to visit. This castle is definitely worth a 4 star rating.
  • rebolforces on My Page    May 21, 2011 at 07:31 PM
    Combined with Kenrokuen, this is a must see. They are constantly researching and rebuilding using old techniques
  • Usagi on My Page    January 08, 2011 at 07:31 PM
    Large grounds with many sakura, omiyage shops, and interesting museum. Tremendous castle town surrounding as well.
  • furinkazan    August 04, 2009 at 12:36 AM
    I visited this site in january last year. I liked it because the walls are very beautiful and it was the first time i saw castlewalls like these. Some parts of the site were closed for reconstuction purposes. So i guess there is more to see now. About the samuraiquarter: these are really nice dwellings with very beautiful streets.
  • Raymond    September 25, 2008 at 04:22 PM
    Love your website here and have used it many times to plan my visits to some castles. Kanazawa Castle or rather its ruins and reconstructed parts are quite impressive. I went there just this past weekend. Right now, they are working on reconstructing the Kahokumon or the Kahoku Gate. The reconstructed Gojikkennagaya Storehouse with the two turrets on either end gives the visitor an idea of what the inside of a Japanese storehouse / fortified wall is like when it was newly built. Some nice displays inside about its reconstruction and how wooden joints are made inside the storehouse. Entry is just 300yen. Just one question. I noticed the model of the original Kanazawa Castle on display did not show a central keep in its Honmaru section. Do you know where I can go to check if this is correct or not? I asked one of the staff there about it, but my Japanese is not so good. I think she said something about this castle not having a central keep or tenshu. Sometimes, I wish I can speak Japanese better, so I can get a fuller grasp of what's going on.
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Kanazawa, Ishikawa Pref.
Kanazawa Castle views
Hashizumemon Gate Hashizumemon Gate and  Sannnomaru Bailey
Tatsumi Yagura stone walls East Bailey stone walls
East Bailey stone walls Stone wall exhibit
Stone wall exhibit Gyokusenin Bailey garden
Gyokusenin Bailey garden Stone wall of the Gyokusenin Bailey
Sanjukken Nagaya Inside the Sanjukken Nagaya
Sanjukken Nagaya Stone walls of the Kuroganemon Gate
Trench, embankment and stone walls Gojukken Nagaya
Tsurumaru Storehouse stone walls
Honmaru Stone Walls Yaguramon Gate of the Hashizumemon Gate
Yaguramon Gate of the Hashizumemon Inside the Hishi Yagura
Inside the Gojukken Nagaya Hishi Yagura and Gojukken Yagura
Gojukken Nagaya Hishi Yagura
Gojukken Yagura Kahokumon Gate
Wall above the Hyakkenbori Moat entrance to the Tsurunomaru Bailey
Tatsumi Yagura foundation East Bailey Stone walls
Hashizumemon Gate
Hashizumemon Gate Gojukken Nagaya Yagura and Hishi Yagura
Ishikawamon Gate Walls of the samurai quarter
Walls around samurai homes Ohya Residence gate
Ohya Residence Front gate of the Nomura Residence
Entrance to the Nomura Residence Garden of the Nomura Residence
Takada Residence Nagayamon Nagayamon Gate of the Takada Residence
Shimizu Residence entrance Shimizu Residence
Shimizu Residence Shimizu Residence
Takanishi Residence Inside the Takanishi Residence
Takanishi Residence Nagayamon of the Araie Residence
Nagayamon of the Amano Residence