Higashi Chaya District

Higashi Chaya District

Kanazawa’s historical tea-house district where geisha entertain

Kanazawa, a city located in Ishikawa Prefecture in japan, is known for its rich cultural heritage and historical sites. One of the most iconic and well-preserved attractions in Kanazawa is the Higashi Chaya District, which is a historical tea-house district where geisha entertain. This district is located in the Higashiyama area of Kanazawa, adjacent to the Asano River. It is the largest among three well-preserved historical geisha districts in Kanazawa along with Nishichayagai and Kazuemachi, and the geisha still entertain here today.

The Higashi Chaya District is a must-visit destination for anyone interested in Japanese history and culture. The district is home to several traditional tea-houses, known as chaya, which date back to the 1820s. These wooden chaya have been well-preserved and are officially designated as a Japanese cultural asset. They offer a glimpse into the past and provide visitors with a unique opportunity to experience the traditional entertainment and hospitality of the geisha.

In the past, the Higashi Chaya District was a popular entertainment district where geisha entertained wealthy nobility and rich merchants. Geisha are traditional Japanese female entertainers who are skilled in various performing arts, such as singing, dancing, and playing musical instruments. They are known for their elaborate kimono attire, distinctive hairstyles, and white-painted faces. Geisha culture still flourishes in the Higashi Chaya District, and in the evenings, visitors can hear the sound of the shamisen (a three-stringed musical instrument) and drums playing from the teahouses, as the geisha sing, dance, and play traditional games.

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A visit to the Higashi Chaya District offers a unique opportunity to get a glimpse inside a traditional teahouse. During the day, visitors can wander through the narrow streets of the district and visit a teahouse that is open to the public. Two such teahouses in the district are Shima and Kaikaro. These teahouses have interesting displays inside and provide visitors with a chance to experience the refined architectural style and interiors of the tea houses. At Kaikaro, visitors can stop by for tea or sweets and get a sense of the traditional tatami rooms where geisha perform in the evening. One of the highlights of these teahouses is an entire staircase covered in red lacquer, which adds to the charm and elegance of the place.

Apart from the teahouses, the Higashi Chaya District also offers other attractions for visitors. There are several shops in the district that sell gold-leaf products, which are a specialty of Kanazawa. Kanazawa produces 99% of the gold leaf used in Japan, and at these shops, visitors can find a wide range of gold-leaf items, such as chopsticks, boxes, and postcards. For a hands-on experience, visitors can also visit one of the many local gold leaf galleries in the district. Here, they can create their own gold-leaf designs and learn about the process of producing the thin leaves of gold. Nearby is the Kanazawa Yasue Gold Leaf Museum, which displays articles collected by Komei Yasue, a famous gold-leaf artisan. The museum showcases gold-beating tools, folding screens, Noh costumes, and Kutaniyaki ceramics, providing visitors with a comprehensive understanding of Kanazawa’s traditional crafts.

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To reach the Higashi Chaya District, visitors can take a bus from Kanazawa Station. They can board the Kanazawa Loop Bus and get off at the Hashibacho bus stop. From there, Higashichayagai is just a five-minute walk away. It is also possible to reach the district on foot from Kenrokuen Garden and Kanazawa Castle in approximately 20 minutes. Kenrokuen Garden is one of the most famous traditional gardens in Japan and is known for its stunning landscapes and seasonal beauty. Kanazawa Castle, on the other hand, is a historic castle that dates back to the 16th century and offers a glimpse into the city’s feudal past.

In conclusion, the Higashi Chaya District in Kanazawa is a historical tea-house district where geisha entertain. It is a well-preserved area that offers visitors a unique opportunity to experience the traditional entertainment and hospitality of the geisha. The district is home to several traditional tea-houses, shops selling gold-leaf products, and local gold leaf galleries. A visit to the Higashi Chaya District provides a glimpse into the rich cultural heritage of Kanazawa and is a must-visit destination for anyone interested in Japanese history and culture. So, when you visit Kanazawa, make sure to explore this enchanting district and immerse yourself in its fascinating traditions and history.

Address And Maps Location:

Higashiyama, Kanazawa-shi, Ishikawa-ken


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