Kanazawa (金沢市; -shi) is the capital city of Ishikawa in Japan. It sits on the Sea of Japan, bordered by the Japan Alps, Hakusan National Park and Noto Peninsula National Park. The city has a population of 450,000, and sits on the Sai and Asano rivers.
Kanazawa literally means "marsh of gold": the name is said to derive from the legend of a peasant called Imohori Togoro who washed gold dust from potatoes into a well (known as Kinjo Reitaku). Kanazawa was once ruled by the Maeda family from 1583 until the Meiji Restoration in 1868.
The city is famous for tea with gold flakes, which is considered by the Japanese people to be good for health and vitality. Gold leaf plays a prominent part in the city's cultural crafts, to the extent that there is a gold leaf museum (Kanazawa Yasue Gold Leaf Museum).
Kenrokuen Garden is by far the most famous part of Kanazawa. Originally built as the outer garden of Ishikawa castle, it was opened to the public in 1875. It is considered one of the "three most beautiful gardens in Japan" and is filled with a variety of trees, ponds, waterfalls and flowers stretching over 25 acres. In winter, the park is notable for its yukitsuri—ropes attached in a conical array to trees to break up snow as it falls and thereby protect the trees from damage.
Outside of Kenrokuen is Ishakawa-mon, the gate to Ishikawa Castle. The castle itself is gone, destroyed by fire. The gate and its outer walls and some stone blocks are all that remain of its ruins.
Kanazawa also boasts a 100-year-old former geisha house: the Higashi Geisha District, across the Asano river (with its old stone bridge) out from central Kanazawa. Nearby is the Yougetsu Minshuku sits at one end of one of the most photographed streets in Japan. It retains, almost completely, the look and feel of nineteenth century Japan, its two-story wooden facades plain and austere. The effect is accentuated by the early morning mist: late at night, the street is lit by the period streetlamps.
The temple Oyama-jinja, which is considered an Important Cultural Asset, is also in Kanazawa.
The city is also renowned as a traditional haunt of ninjas.