A chaya (lit. teahouse) is an exclusive type of restaurant where guests are entertained by geisha who perform song and dance. During the Edo Period, chaya were found in designated entertainment districts, usually just outside the city limits. Kanazawa has three, well preserved chaya districts, Higashi Chayagai (Eastern Chaya District), Nishi Chayagai (Western Chaya District) and Kazuemachi.
Of the three districts, the Higashi Chaya District (東茶屋街, Higashi Chayagai) is the largest and by far the most interesting. Two chaya, the Shima Teahouse and Kaikaro Teahouse, are open to the public. Other buildings along the central street now house cafes and shops. One of the shops, Hakuza, sells gold leaf products, a specialty of Kanazawa, and displays a tea ceremony room which is completely covered in gold leaf.
30 meters down the north side of the street Hours: 9:00 to 18:00 (until 17:00 from December to February) Closed: No closing days Admission: 500 yen
A preserved tea house, which has been converted into a museum. The rooms where geisha would perform and the kitchen are on display along with various instruments and items used by the geisha.
100 meters down the south side of the street Hours: 10:00 to 17:00 Closed: No closing days Admission: 750 yen
The Kaikaro Chaya is still an operating tea house, but opens its doors to the public. Tea service is included with admission.
Hakuza Gold Leaf Store
A few steps from Shima Teahouse Hours: 9:30 to 18:00 (until 17:30 in winter) Closed: No closing days
A shop selling gold leaf products, a specialty of Kanazawa. Inside the shop is a traditional Japanese warehouse which has been turned into a tearoom and completely covered inside and out with gold leaf.
Getting there and around
The Higashi Chaya District can be accessed by the Right Loop of the Kanazawa Loop Bus in about 10 minutes from Kanazawa Station. Get off at Hashibacho (Koban-mae) bus stop (number RL5), from where the district can be reached in a five minute walk.