Most cities in Japan take pride in having four seasons of beauty, but Kanazawa's well-preserved structure and architecture are constructed to take advantage of Japan's distinct seasons.
The favorite season of Japan is Spring, naturally, when the soft pink cherry blossoms explode throughout the city, announcing the end of winter. Cherry trees harmonize with the historical neighborhoods that have been essentially unchanged since the Edo era.
Nowhere in the city is quite as remarkable to enjoy the cherry blossoms as the Kanazawa Castle grounds and adjacent Kenrokuen Garden, where you can enjoy the beauty of the cherry trees much like the Maeda clan lords did centuries ago. In addition, many popular locations are illuminated after sunset, including the romantic views outside the Ishikawa-mon Gate of the castle and the riverbank near the Asanogawa Ohashi Bridge.
In Japan, summer is the season of festivals, and no festival is more important to Kanazawa than the Hyakumangoku festival held over three days during the first week in June. This festival commemorates the occasion the revered lord of the Kaga domain, Maeda Toshiie, first settled in Kanazawa Castle. A parade of thousands donning historical costumes makes its way from Kanazawa Station to Kanazawa Castle on the first Saturday of June. It feels like the entire city is in a celebratory mood with traditional dances, performances, and tea ceremonies happening everywhere, with the public invited to join in.
The turning of the autumn foliage begins in late October. Kenrokuen Garden, one of the best viewing spots to enjoy the fall colors, is lit up after nightfall for a period starting from early to late November. Beyond the famous garden, Mt. Utatsu, Daijoji Temple, and the old site of Mr. Kurando Terashima's house also present stunning views of the annual fall color-fest.
You can also witness the skillful crews of gardeners setting up yukitsuri, an ancient method of protecting the city's beautiful manicured trees from winter's heavy snowfall. The graceful yukitsuri ropes are beautiful to behold as a sign of winter's approach.
More traditional protection from the snowy winter is installed in December: straw mats lining the mud walls of the Nagamachi samurai residences (Buke Yashiki). The mats harken back to days long past when the snow-covered roofs and slick stone pavement create a scene from the Edo era.
Visitors for the new year can enjoy the Kanazawa City Fire Department's New Year Parade, demonstrating their acrobatic Kaga Tobi performances for an event that attracts spectators from all over Japan.