Welcome to Tatemachi Street in Kanazawa: From the Historical to the Happening and Hip

Hey! Were you looking for the Tatemachi Street website? No worries, you're totally in the right place. We just got a little tiny bit of a complete makeover. As for anyone who's new here, well...

Before I take you to Tatemachi, we need to talk a little about Kanazawa, a.k.a. "Little Kyoto," a.k.a. the "City of Gold," a.k.a. "Japan's El Dorado"... you get the idea. We need to talk about Kanazawa itself, because if you have some idea of what Kanazawa is, you might be missing out on the real deal!

Think you know Kanazawa? Think again!

I know everyone likes to come to Kanazawa for Kenrokuen and Higashi Chaya. Some people even know about Nagamachi. And if you don’t know them, you should! Kenrokuen is one of the most popular gardens in all Japan, Higashi Chaya is the only geisha district most people know, and Nagamachi is chock full of samurai houses.

But when people talk about Japanese nightlife, they tend to think of Osaka, and when they think of fashion, they think of Harajuku. Well, I’ve got news for you. Kanazawa has those too! Of course, it’s on a much smaller scale, but you can definitely find modern Japan in this old town if you know where to look.

The weird thing about Kanazawa is that you don’t realize how big it is until you get here. If you’ve never been, it may not even be on your radar. I’ve heard some people think it’s smaller than Takayama! Are you kidding?? Kanazawa is five times bigger!

But Kanazwa is also not like Osaka, not overwhelming. It’s this perfect sized city. Right now—while the bullet train to Tokyo is still new and not too many tourists have flooded the city yet—right now is the best time to enjoy Kanazawa’s balance of old and new.

Do you want history and tradition? Kanazawa’s got it. Do you want handmade crafts from artists you can meet in person? Kanazawa has definitely got that in droves! Do you want Japanese bars, karaoke and neon-lit streets full of salarymen and, um... more, shall I say, colorful characters? That’s here too! But if you only stick to the guidebooks, you’ll NEVER see it.

Head on down to downtown...

Get away from Kanazawa Station and make your way south along the main road. Before long, and before you reach the river, you’ll run into the downtown area. A lot of folks pass right through on their way to the Ninja Temple, and they are missing out. Here in downtown, we have all the liveliest neighborhoods.

Kata-machi hugs the main road. Get your karaoke fix here or people-watch on the street under the neon lights.

Kigura-machi is a long stretch of restaurants and bars along a narrow street. It’s picturesque at night. There are hidden alleys of street food stands if you know where to go.

Kakinokibatake... Okay, I know that’s a mouthful. Kaki-no-ki-Batake. Hard to say, easy to enjoy. Lots of good restaurants here and a few cute shops, too. This neighborhood is more approachable if Kigura-machi intimidates you, but it’s just as delicious!

Take it to the next level on Tatemachi

Gotta save the best for last! Tatemachi is one long stretch and the biggest “sidewalk” of the downtown neighborhoods. It’s one big shopping promenade. Most car traffic is closed during the day, so people freely crowd the street while they go shopping or enjoy sweets.

It’s been a little crazy lately to watch Tatemachi grow. The neighborhood is 400 years old (!!) and used to be the marketplace for samurai. Some of the shops, like the kimono shop, Erihana, have been there for many generations.

But there has also been a surge of new shops, especially for fashion and design. In fact, Tatemachi has been called “the Harajuku of Kanazawa” for as much as it produces. There are vintage clothing shops, specialty designers, lolita couture... you name it! Near Erihana is another kimono shop of an entirely different style, Soki Kimono & Antiques. I think my favorite from that shop was a denim kimono with black leather obi belt!

Tatemachi isn’t just clothing either. There’s a whole variety of shops, stores, cafes and bars: more than 200 unique businesses around this one street! Kitchen stores, a liquor shop with a sake vending machine, a tattoo studio, a hedgehog cafe, a wooden clock maker, anime and manga stores... It would be kind of ridiculous to list them all, but yeah, there are a TON.

And if shopping isn’t enough to satisfy you, there’s even more! Tour a tiny museum of centuries-old indigo kimono, make your own jewelry, watch a costume parade, dance in a rainbow of lights after dark, listen to the evening buskers...

By the way, all this? All this is just on Tatemachi Street itself. I haven’t even touched on everything you can do and see as you start making your way out from Tatemachi.

But that’s what “Stories from Tatemachi Kanazawa” will be for. :)

Stick around and tour downtown with me!

So I’m going to cover some of my favorite spots in detail, chat up shop owners and artists, and share some of the more interesting activities in the area. You’re not going to find these things in Lonely Planet or Japan-Guide!

Of course I’ll touch on the occasional sightseeing standards. How can I not? Tatemachi is also called “the Entrance to the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art” with good reason. Not only is the world-famous museum incredibly close—as are so many other spots: Kenrokuen Garden, Kanazawa Castle, the Samurai District, the Ninja Temple, etc.—but it’s also closely tied to Tatemachi’s own love of art and artistic innovation.

So put on a classic vinyl record, sip your favorite flavor of bubble tea and learn to walk like a geisha in the 21st Century. Are you ready to explore Tatemachi with me?

Check out the new Tatemachi website!