Kanazawa still feels like a castle town. It is the site of a castle as well as many samurai houses. In addition, the romantic teahouse streets have not changed at all.
Nishi Teahouse Street is to the south of the Sai River, and is synonymous with Kanazawa. In the third year of the Bunsei period, the Kaga Domain had the street built along with Higashi Teahouse Street.
Even today, Japanese-style restaurants and geisha-girl delivery stores produce items of great elegance. After dark, the sounds of the shamisen can be heard, lending the streets further charm.
In olden times, most teahouses used to refuse first-time customers. This was the case with Higashi Street, but now there are Japanese-style hotels, souvenir shops and cafes lining its sides. It is most enjoyable to walk down the street.
Nishi Teahouse Museum is located in the building where Seijiro Shimada, a writer born in Mikawa, Ishikawa prefecture, lived when young and there are items exhibited here describing his early life.
Niouza is an historical street of Samurai residences dating to the Azuchi-Momoiro period, and is located in Usuki, Oita Prefecture. It was selected as one of Japan's 100 Best Cityscapes in 1993.
Niouza was originally a road on the ashy slopes of the volcano Mt Aso. It is said that the name 'Niouza' derives from the two deva king guardian statues glaring out from the deva gate to the Gion Shrine (present-day Yasaka Shrine) in this vicinity.
Along the road are many temples, remains of stone paving, samurai residences and old ramparts, which together create a tranquil ambience. Places on the way, such as the Old Shinkou Temple and the Inaba-Hidemichi-Yashiki Ruins, are well worth visiting. You can also see the ruins of the battlefield Kiri-toushi and numerous other points of interest.
Near the old castle in Saiki town, Oita Prefecture, there still exists a group of samurai residences dating back to the time when the area belonged to the Saiki Domain.
The Saiki Domain was founded in 1601 (Keicho 6), when the first domain lord, Takamasa Mori, moved here from his former territory of Hita, Bungo-nokuni. As the new site in the Togamurejo area was relatively inconvenient, they moved again to Hachiman-yama in Bungo-nokuni, where they built Tsuruya Castle at the mouth of the Bansho River. When this castle burned down in 1617 (Ganwa 3), the domain used the Sannomaru, at the foot of the mountain, as their castle. Samurai residences for the domain retainers were built at this time.
Today, the samurai residences around the Shiroyama area suggest the old atmosphere of the Edo period. In 1893 (Meiji 26), Doppo Kunikida, who came here to teach at the Tsuruya Gakkan, stayed with his brother at a samurai residence called Sakamoto-Tei. Now the Sakamoto-Tei is opened to the public as the Kunikida Doppo House of Saiki Castle Town.
In the Edo period, Kaga was a castle town. Around Naga Town there still remain houses that middle and low class samurais lived in.
The earthen walls, water drainage channels and stone paved alleys remind you of the old days. In particular, the earthen walls of the samurai houses used Tomuro stone which was also used in the consruction of Kanazawa Castle. These stones add to the atmosphere of the area. People actually live in these houses, too, which makes them seem even more real.
The district of Samurai houses has complicated paved stone alleys and much the same mood as the old castle town. Walking along, you will feel as if you were living in the Edo period.
Among the interesting places to visit are Nomura house, open to everyone, and Saihitsu-an, where you can see demonstrations of Kaga-Yuzen dyeing. Voluntary guides are always stationed at the resting places and they can provide information about the samurai houses and so on.
It is unbelievable that the district is just next to Korinbo, a busy modern shopping street. In comparison, Naga Town gives you a good sense of history.
Running from the moat of Hikone Castle to Kyobashi bridge there is a straight road that goes over the old Middle moats within the castle grounds.
This road reflects the tradition of this castle town, with its black latticed windows, wing walls, white walls and eaves. While the area has been carefully protected, the people's lives are not so visible, such as along the area known today as Old New Town, Yumekyobashi Castle Road.
Honmachi, in Hikone, where this street is located, became a castle town in 1603 at the same time as Hikone Castle was completed. The historical town has 6-meter-wide roads, giving a taste of the past.
In 1985, city planners commenced renovation of this road, realising its historical importance. In 1999, renovation and repairs were completed and the Honmachi area was reborn as Yumekyobashi Castle Road.
The road has been decorated with images of Hikone 'karuta' (local playing cards), which lend an extra tasteful element to the road as you walk along it.