Where else but in Kanazawa is there a giant brass tea kettle to greet your arrival at the super modern train station? ART is written in capital letters everywhere you look in the capital of Ishikawa Prefecture. In fact, I compare it to Florence, Italy, where ART is also part of its historical heritage and daily life. Maybe this has something to do with the erstwhile ruling families of both of these cities: in Florence it was the de Medici family who supported artists and commissioned so many art works. In Kanazawa it was the Maeda Lords who did the same thing.
The Maeda’s were a powerful dynasty who, once their military dominance of the region was secure by the 16th century, made their fortune with rice and trade. And while they were amassing their fortune, they also encouraged the best artists to come and live in Kanazawa. The result, which can be seen even today, is that over 99% of the Japanese fine gold-leafing industry is based in Kanazawa, as well as a strong community of potters, painters, weavers and lacquerware artists. It is no wonder that, since 2009, this city of just half a million inhabitants has been become a member of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network and official City of Crafts and Folk Arts.
I was so enchanted with this lovely town, off the beaten track for Western tourists, that I extended my stay and could have easily added another week. The hop-on hop-off vintage bus is a good way to get around. From its various stops, it is usually an easy walk to not only one but various points of interest.