Hi, everyone! My name is Chelsea and I’m from the USA.
I’m living in Tsubata-machi,
a neighboring town of Kanazawa.
You know how Kanazawa is famous as a Geiko town
(in Kanazawa, people call Geisha, “Geiko-san”) along with Kyoto?
I’ll show you just a bit of the Higashi Chaya-Gai District,
the largest of the city’s three Geisha districts.
Brief guide to help make
your visit more meaningful
Now, allow me to introduce Japanese Geisha culture and the Higashi Chaya-Gai.
O-chaya (lit. teahouse) are known for being traditional places for feasts and entertainment, where Geiko-san have been entertaining guests by performing songs and dances, accompanied by Shamisen or Taiko music since the Edo period.
A number of O-chaya dotted the central part of Kanazawa in the past. These O-chaya were set aside into four districts distant from the city center in 1820 by the Kaga feudal government. Present Kanazawa has three well-preserved Chaya Districts, with Higashi being the largest one. Being designated as Japanese cultural assets, along with Kyoto’s Gion and Kanazawa’s Kazue-machi, this historic area is always filled with tourists, both foreigners and Japanese.
I suppose that most Westerners are fascinated with the Geiko-san, the mysterious mask of Japanese tradition. The Higashi Chiya-Gai is a place where you can became aquainted with Japanese culture, tradition, and lifestyle.
より大きな地図で eye on Kanazawa を表示
Admire the well-preserved O-chaya
buildings and nostalgic atmosphere
Today, I stopped at Kokoyui to rent a Kimono, making my stroll a wonderful opportunity to step back in time. I chose a flower-patterned antique Kimono among the hundreds of designs. The young and friendly owner helped me put it on! Don’t you think it’s wonderful to stroll through the historic streets in a Kimono? I hope I can walk gracefully…
Here we are in the Higashi Chaya-Gai District. The main street is about 150 meters long from east to west, and you can see rows of beautiful O-chaya on both sides. TheKimusuko ［木虫籠］se buildings are characterized with a lattice called “Kimusuko” on the ground floor and Ozashiki (guestrooms) located on the second floor.
Some O-chaya are still used for their original purpose. Still-operating is Kaikaro, the former O-chaya Shima. Also, the O-chaya Museum offers tourists a rare chance to see their exquisite interior. As I mentioned, Ozashiki are positioned on the upper floors in these O-chaya, some of which contain lustrous red walls, while others sport clear blue walls. It’s like a charming enclosed garden!
Quite a few of the O-chaya have been renovated into restaurants, cafes, shops, and inns. Despite this, the old atmosphere is still alive. I recommend that you pop into one of the cafes or restaurants to admire the magnificent and quiet traditional Japanese rooms with a cup of tea or a meal. High-end dining in the Higashi Chaya-Gai District can be expensive, although many restaurants offer affordable but finely crafted dishes during lunchtime.
Dropping in a souvenir shop and buying traditional Japanese crafts is also quite the experience. You can see how an attractive Noren curtain hangs at each entrance.
Jugatsu-ya 「十月亭」 Renovated O-chaya restaurant with a beautiful tatami dining room which overlooks a beautiful garden.
Sells traditional Kanazawa arts and
crafts including pottery, fabrics, and
There are places where the main streets will never takeyou
After walking along the main street, let’s step out into the maze of alleyways. Japanese people say it makes you feel like you’re traveling time. I’ll verify that statement!
I think that getting lost in this area can be fun, you might run into an old shrine or tucked-away gem of a specialty shop. Perhaps you can even catch a glimpse of local life (of course, you may need to be more reserved in a residential area). When I visited here for the first time, I lost my way and happened to find a nice cafe.
If you have enough time, walking along the Asanogawa River (a few minutes from the Higashi Chaya-Gai District) is also quite nice. Take in the lush greenery while watching the locals walk their dogs. You can also just relax and enjoy the view.
There is so much to see, eat, and feel, but this is the end of today’s tour. How was it? After finishing a whole day of leisure in the Higashi Chaya-Gai District, I’m sure you will come to appreciate Japanese culture more.
Oh, yes. If you walk past the Higashi Chaya Office in the early evening, you might catch a few notes being played on a Shamisen. Or, you might see a Geiko-san making her way along the streets. Good luck!