Kanazawa is what we like to call the Goldilocks city: “just right” in every possible way.
Like Kyoto, Kanazawa escaped bombing during WWII, leaving a beautifully preserved historic centre overflowing with teahouses, samurai residences, temples and shrines. Its restored feudal castle dates back over 500 years, and Kenrokuen Garden is massive and (quite rightly) one of the most famous in Japan. We particularly love it in the winter, when all the trees are protected with yukizuri ropes and the whole garden is blanketed in snow.
But Kanazawa is no time capsule. Far from it. In fact, if you ask us, no other city in Japan balances tradition with modernity quite so beautifully. Just a stone’s throw from its exquisite garden is one of Japan’s finest contemporary art museums, where you’ll find the likes of Olafur Eliasson and Gerhard Richter alongside Leandro Erlich's mind-bending “Swimming Pool”. By night, quaint streets lined with gold leaf, pottery and lacquerware workshops hand over to a buzzing food and nightlife scene, while its fish market is packed with sushi restaurants so good you’ll need to start queueing at 11am if you want to have lunch at the best.
Small and perfectly formed, you can see all of its main attractions on foot, and you’re never far from a department store with free Wi-Fi if you get lost. You could spend a lifetime in Tokyo or Kyoto and feel like you’ve barely scratched the surface, but spend two days in Kanazawa and it’ll feel like an old friend. If there’s such a thing as a perfect city, this is it.