Historical Rows of Houses Designated as Japan's Cultural Assets
Chaya is a traditional place of feasts and entertainment, where geisha (traditional female Japanese entertainers) have been entertaining people by performing dances and playing Japanese traditional musical instruments since the Edo period. The central part of Kanazawa was dotted with a number of chaya houses in the past. These chaya houses were moved into three districts distant from the central part in 1820. The largest one of the chaya districts in Kanazawa is the Higashi Chaya district. The construction of two-story houses except chaya houses was prohibited in the Edo period. A chaya house is characterized with a beautiful lattice called "kimusuko" on the outer side of the first floor and Japanese-style guestrooms located on the second floor. When you enter back streets, you will soon find a maze of continuous alleys. The historical rows of this teahouse town along with Kyoto's Gion and Kanazawa's Kazue-machi have been designated as Japan's cultural assets. There are no other chaya districts designated as Japan's cultural assets. The district includes facilities where you can see the interior of a chaya house that was built almost 200 years ago. Besides, quite a few old buildings have been renewed into restaurants, teahouses, and souvenir shops. It takes three minutes on foot to the bank of the Asano River from the Higashi Chaya district. The Higashi Chaya district and Asano river area are places where you can enjoy strolling and become acquainted with Japanese history and culture. Kanazawa City Tourism Association holds a geisha performance show in the three chaya districts of the city every Saturday.