Nagamachi District 長町
Onosho canal borders the samurai district
In winter, the walls attire themselves in komo, a straw mat, resist the thaw
Credit: ajari https://www.flickr.com/photos/ajari/4387925924
Nagamachi district of Kanazawa
Credit: Yoshihide Urushihara
Kenroku-en garden in Kanazawa
Credit: Shoko Muraguchi
Entrance to the residence Takada.
The garden of the Nomura residence.
Inside the Nomura samourai family residence
The samurai maze
Considered one of the most powerful Japanese feudal lords, daimyo, in the country, Toshiie Maeda (1538-1599) established his warriors in the city in the Nagamachi district of the city of Kanazawa, Ishikawa Prefecture.
A gold maze
Twenty minutes on foot from Kanazawa station, this unique samurai district takes you through a maze of alleys lined with ocher-colored walls. You have to dare to get lost in this labyrinth to fully enjoy the tranquility of the neighborhood and its atmosphere reminiscent of feudal Japan.
The city of Kanazawa is famous for its rich history and its cultural dynamism. The installation of Toshiie Maeda (1538-1599), lord of the feudal era, in the castle of Kanazawa in 1583 was the starting point of this flourishing history. Their financial power, based on the cultivation of rice, led them to develop handicrafts and traditional arts. By visiting Kanazawa, it is easy to imagine what life could have been like at the time, thanks to the many workshops of artisans still present.
Read: Kanazawa Castle Park
Unique to Kanazawa is its perfectly preserved samurai district, Nagamachi. You will be surprised by these narrow alleys guided by walls made of stones and mud. Some have been weathering for over a hundred years, so it is necessary to protect them. During the harsh winter months, straw mats called komo, are used to protect the walls from the snow. The komo envelops the upper part of the walls and works similarly to the yukitsuri the Kenroku-en garden, another trick to protect the trees from heavy snowfall.
Read also: Kenroku-en garden
The entire district is surrounded by the Onosho canal, the oldest in the city. The canal was used to transport goods to the area and also in case of fires.
To get the best out of what the life of these low, medium and high-class samurai could be, it is possible to visit some of the emblematic houses of the district.
- The Takada family residence and the Nagayamon gate
The entrance to the residence of this middle-class samurai family home is through an imposing door dating from feudal times. Only the stables and the garden can be visited.
The latter includes a small pond for a short but pleasant walk. The route marked out with information panels so that visitors can understand the daily life of the family and their servants.
This house belonging to a powerful family is undoubtedly the jewel of the neighborhood. The interior impresses the visitor with its richly decorated appearance.Fusuma(Japanese sliding doors) decorated with prints created by the official painter of the Maeda family, samurai sword in the window, the ceiling in Japanese cypress are all elements contributing to this beautiful house.
The garden and its tree, which is over 400 years old, offers a haven of peace far from the noise of the city center. Upstairs, which is reached by an external staircase of stones polished by age, is a room reserved for the tea ceremony.
- Ashigaru Shiryokan Historical Museum
Less frequented and less luxurious, the area of Ashigaru Shiryokan is where the houses of Shimizu and Kozai, lowest ranking samurai, are located. These simple reconstructed houses reproduce the simple life of the more modest warriors. The information captions are in English and sufficient to understand the lifestyle and duties of these warriors.
If you don't want to miss anything in Nagamachi, head to the Nagamachi Bukeyashiki Kyukeikan Rest House information center. This rest house, located near the Nomura house, has everything you need to revitalize yourself between visits and plan the rest of the day.