[Kazue-Machi Chaya-Gai District and the Asano-Gawa River]
Why do we love Geisha?
Published: March 30, 2011
When you think of Japan, what comes to mind? Ninja, Samurai, or Geisha? Unfortunately, you can't see real Ninja and Samurai any more. That class system was done away with a long time ago. But, it's still possible to see Geisha in our time, even though the Japanese rarely see the gorgeous entertainers. Where are they all hiding?
First of all, we call them “Geiko-san” in respect for them, not Geisha here in Kanazawa, so let me use Geiko-san from now on. Since Kanazawa had flourished as a castle town, lots of Chaya tea houses were built along both of the Asano-Gawa and the Sai-Gawa rivers. In 1820, they opened two official Geisha districts in the east and the west, and both were bustling. I hear that there are approximately 15 O-Chaya tea houses and 50 Geiko-san in the three Chaya-Gai districts of Kanazawa these days. (Recorded in 2010) Although they have a problem finding successors, so far they still manage to be in business. Anyway, if you have already visited the districts, it’s possible that you and at least one Geiko-san might have passed each other!!!
[Higashi Chaya-Gai District]
[Kazue-Machi Chaya-Gai District]
In the daytime, you won’t recognize them in their ordinary clothes, I think. Well, I recommend you visit one of the districts in the evening for a good chance to see some of them. If you unfortunately can’t see anyone, you can at least enjoy the quiet atmosphere without any crowds, or you might hear the music of their performance. But, if you really don’t want to miss the chance to see them in Japan, I recommend you to join a Geisha entertaining event which is open to public! Kanazawa city mainly sponsors the shows at the O-chaya tea house every year, and anyone can book them. Oh, are you a person who has a weakness for REAL experience? Well, you definitely have to get a connection with a celebrity in Kanazawa!
The Higashi Chaya-Gai District [東茶屋街]
Two blocks from the Asano-Gawa River, you'll see the quaint old buildings well-preserved in this district. It’s located in the east side of Kanazawa, that’s why it’s called “Higashi (east) Chaya-Gai”. This district is well-known as having the most tea houses in Kanazawa now. Besides that, there are many long established and new craft shops, so you’ll enjoy strolling, having a coffee break, and enjoying the overall atmosphere. It has been designated as an Important Preservation Districts for Groups of Traditional Buildings since 2001.
The Nishi Chaya-Gai District [西茶屋街]
It’s located near the Sai-Gawa River and the night spot, Katamachi. It’s also within walking distance to Teramachi temple street. Most Geiko-san are in the western district, and sometimes they visit other districts for business. This district is well-known for many Ryotei (luxury Japanese restaurants), and some Geiko-san belong to the restaurants.
The Kazue-Machi District [主計町]
This Geisha district was officially recorded as Geisha district in 1869. Although it’s the smallest district in Kanazawa, it’s very charming at the waterfront. It has been featured in the Japanese movie “Maiko Haaaan!!!” (2007), which is one of my favorites. It has also been designated as an Important Preservation Districts for Groups of Traditional Buildings since 2008.
Kanazawa City >>
Kanazawa Higashiyama Area
Rental Japanese Town House
According to the location near the Asanogawa River, Higashi Chayagai and Kazuemachi geisha districts will be accessible to you everyday in Kanazawa. This rental town house could be your hideaway while you are in town. Or you can just relax with your family or friends as if you were at home. Sleep in a cozy bed whenever you want, cook what you want at the simple kitchen, or chat away with your homey about your trip through the Internet! No one will interrupt you.
9-5, Hashiba-cho, Kanazawa
Tel 076-240-2522 / Fax 076-240-1707 / E-mail
Rates: ¥24,000 for 2 people per night (A 4,000-yen additional fee will be charged per extra person, per night) *Limited to the maximum of 6 people. *Breakfast not included / Check in:15:00; Check out: 11:00 /Credit cards: Most accepted / Languages: Limited English spoken / Facilities: [1F] Living room, dining kitchen, bathroom, and toilet; [2F] Western bedroom with 2 beds, and Japanese tatami room / *Free internet & WiFi
Kanazawa City >> Higashiyama Area
Rental traditional Japanese house
 Machiya-Kanazawa Kikunoya [町屋金沢 菊乃や]
Stay at Machiya-Kanazawa in Kazue-machi which used to be a Geisha house! Rent the whole house with your friends, family or group members! You'll feel like Kanazawais your second home.
Stay 2 Nights for The Price of One Campaign: available until March 31, 2015.
3-22, Kazuemachi, Kanazawa
Tel 076-287-0834 / Fax 076-287-0835 / E-mail
Rates: [2-3 persons] ¥54,000~; [4-5 persons] ¥72,000~ (*Tax and breakfast not included.) /Check in: 15:00; Check out: 11:00 / Credit cards: VISA or Master / Languages: English spoken / 1 Bathroom with western style wash toilet system / 1 Kitchen / 5 Tatami rooms / 1 Tea ceremony room / Mini Japanese garden / Hands-on Experience program (tea ceremony, flower arrangement, Noh chant, calligraphy, and kimono-wearing): 2-hour instructions ¥13,000 per group (*Tax included. Some programs require material costs.)
Restaurant JIYUKEN [自由軒]
Conveniently situated in the Higashi Chayagai geisha district, this long-established Yoshoku restaurant has always been popular among the locals and tourists. They utilize handpicked local ingredients, and it's hard to go wrong with any of their fairly priced dishes served by a friendly staff.
1-6-6, Higashiyama, Kanazawa
Phone 076-252-1996 / http://www.jiyuken.com
Open: 11:30-15:00, 17:00-21:00 (weekdays), 16:30-21:00 (weekends and national holidays); closed Tuesdays and every third Monday / Language: English and Japanese menu / Budget:1,000-2,000 yen / Credit cards: Not accepted