5 Recommended Museums to Visit in Kanazawa
Among many museums in Kanazawa, I will pick up and introduce 5 museums including National Craft Museum opened in October 2020. I hope those who like museums and those who are not interested in, will find one you would like to visit at the end.
21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa
This popular museum constantly attracts visitors from all over the world to see its unique circular architecture and the interesting exhibitions of modern arts. It is one of the most popular museums in Japan, counted as many as 2.58 million visitors in 2018 fiscal year.
This very unique architecture was designed by the Japanese architects unit SANAA (SEJIMA & NISHIZAWA). In 2010, they were awarded for The Pritzker Architecture Prize, so called Nobel Prize of the architecture industry. So, besides museum or modern arts lovers, many architects, students in the major, or architecture lovers also come and visit this museum.
photo credit: Kanazawa city
How to enjoy
There are open air exhibitions, public zone and lots of photogenic spots. The nice museum shop is in the free zone. So, just go and have a look, even if you are not so interested in modern arts or museums in general. The museum is open until 20:00 on Friday and Saturday, and evening is less crowded.
photo credit: Kanazawa city
Probably, one of the most famous exhibitions is The Swimming Pool of the above picture. It is surprising to look down the dressed people walking around in the pool. However, currently 6 is the maximum number of people who can enter the lower space at the same time due to the safety procedures against Covid-19.
One day “Room of TURRELL”
My favorite exhibition is Blue Planet Sky, also known as the Room of TURRELL. You may pass by this space without recognizing. Here, you will look up the trimmed sky and just see floating and moving clouds, then you will feel calm and relaxed for some reason.
Blue sky on a sunny day, or white sky covered with cloud, or the rain sound on a rainy day, or quiet night sky.. the space feels very different depending on the time and weather. As this space is located in the free zone, you can go to this place at the different times in a day or on different days.
Official website: 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa
National Craft Museum
The National Museum of Modern Art, Craft Gallery was moved from Tokyo to Kanazawa, and newly opened as National Craft Museum in October 2020. The historical buildings were relocated and the interior has been converted to the modern museum. Many beautiful crafts are spectacular and are irresistible for craft lovers. It is a hot spot as a new tourist attraction in Kanazawa.
How to enjoy
What is a craft? If a work of art is made for the purpose of display or appreciation, it can be said that a craft is made for the purpose of use. However, those crafts collections are also Japan’s first-class works of arts. When I visited the first exhibition after grand opening, I was deeply impressed by the beauty of the Japanese crafts.
You need to buy a ticket for the designated date and time on the website in advance. Thanks to the controlled entry, you can take your time to appreciate the collections and exhibitions. You can also download an app to read the detailed explanation of each items.
Ishikawa Prefectural Museum of Art is located right next to the site. where you can appreciate the local antique arts, drawings, sculptures and crafts from this culturally rich prefecture, Ishikawa.
Official website: National Craft Museum
The D.T.SUZUKI Museum
D.T.Suzuki, born in Kanazawa, is known as buddhist philosopher, who introduced Zen philosophy to the Western world. The museum features its architecture and space like the minimum Zen style. In this quiet and calm space, you will forget you are in the middle of the city.
Lonely Planet highly evaluates this museum and categorizes as top site for Kanazawa.
How to enjoy
Are you sometimes overwhelmed by the huge volume of reading material at museums and memorials? It will not the case in this museum, and the amount of reading contents is limited. It is the space where you will know about the person, D.T.Suzuki, and simply experience the mind-full time and feel the moments by yourself. Perhaps it is one part of Zen.
Just read his words and phrase, and take a time to think of it. Listen to the sound of raindrops falling on the surface of the water pond on a rainy day, the sound of the leaves of the trees blowing in the wind, or the humming of birds. This is a place where you will experience the extraordinary time apart from daily life. Museum staff recommends to visit this place just after the opening time when there are less people.
the below photo credit: Kanazawa city
In autumn, the water surface reflects the colored leaves beautifully.
On a very cold day in winter, it is covered with the thin ice.
After visiting this museum, passing by the large basin and walking on the path behind, you will go up the stairs along a small waterfall, then you will reach Ishikawa Prefectural Museum of Art and National Craft Museum at the right next site. I recommend you to walk on this beautiful Green Promenade, though it is not so known.
Official website: D.T.Suzuki Museum
Museum of Architecture, Kanazawa
This rather new museum, opened in July 2019, commemorates Yoshiro and Yoshio TANIGUCHI, world-famous architects from Kanazawa. Located on the high land overlooking Sai River, you will enjoy the seasonal view such as sakura in spring or colored autumn leaves behind the large window and water basin.
How to enjoy
If you like architecture, check the ongoing exhibition before visiting. Current interesting exhibition (2021.1.5 – 2021.9.12) shows how the town of Kanazawa has been developed from the architectural point of view by using a lot of models and photos. You can scan QR code on the panels to read English translation.
The second floor is the permanent exhibition that faithfully reproduces the tea room and the main Japanese style room of the State Guest House Akasaka Palace, Japanese style Annex, designed by Yoshiro TANIGUCHI. The main Japanese room is over 77 square meters floored in tatami mats. You can actually see how is the representative Japanese room created to entertain foreign VIP guests, though you are not allowed to enter the room unfortunately.
The above photo credit: Kanazawa city
On the first floor facing the main street is a small cafe space, which has been renewed in June 2021 and operated by a local coffee specialty shop. Without visiting the museum, you can use the cafe or take out, so you can stop by during sightseeing to enjoy great coffee.
Official website： Museum of Architecture, Kanazawa
Ishikawa Prefectural Museum of History
Located at the next to National Crafts Museum in a green area, their exhibition is easy to understand with a lot of models and reproductions, so you can learn about the history of Ishikawa prefecture. One of the must-see models is the feudal lord’s annual trip for the change of attendance durning the Edo period. Seeing the long line of the accompanying people of the travel, you can imagine how big cost had been expensed every year, and how Tokugawa Shogunate wanted to subject the biggest clan, Kaga of this region.
How to enjoy
Kanazawa, developed as a castle town, has never experience big wars or natural disaster over 400 years, so it is said that the old map of Edo period is still valid for today. Looking at the diorama model of central Kanazawa on display, you can have a whole view of the city and also assume the old days. Kanazawa Castle and Kenrokuen Garden, the feudal lord’s garden, are surrounded by Samurai District and other town districts between two rivers. Look over the locations of major sightseeing spots in Kanazawa, as if you were a flying bird.
Official website: Ishikawa Prefectural Museum of History
Have you found an interesting museum? All these museums are located in the central area of Kanazawa city. K’s House Kanazawa is only 10-20 minutes walking away from these museums, so you can visit them at early morning or evening to avoid busy hours.