Traditional and Contemporary Arts and Crafts
Located adjacent to the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa, Kanazawa Crafts Hirosaka is a large shop and gallery with a selection of Kanazawa's traditional crafts. If you are looking for a particular craft item but don't know where to find it or if you have run out of time looking for a specific item, this is the perfect shop for you. Many of the items sold here are small and inexpensive, perfect for packing away in your luggage to carry home from Japan as gifts.
Stationery and other goods made with Futamata washi paper are popular souvenirs for their light weight and ease of packing. Futamata washi is known for its durability and long life, making it a perfect type of paper for documents or crafts that you want to last for generations.
Colorful Kaga Temari balls of beautiful geometric designs also make lovely items to display in your home and are easily packed in luggage. Temari balls are symbols of good luck that are brought with a bride when she gets married. The Yubinuki thimble is a more practical piece made using the same technique as a temari ball.
Paulownia boards adorned with gold and silver sprinkled Maki-e designs are another practical souvenir item. The boards are designed as coasters, plates, and trays, and the lightweight wood takes up almost no space in your luggage.
Even traditional Kanazawa crafts whose uses are waning are being repurposed for modern times. Mizuhiki, a striking string craft that was once extremely popular for decorating engagement gifts and congratulatory gift bags, has found a new life as a design for pendants and earrings. Even the techniques to make Kaga fly fishing lures using the colorful feathers of local bird species have been adapted to become accessories like brooches and hair clips.
Upstairs is a gallery space where local artists can display and sell their handmade products. The artists themselves are often present, giving you a chance to talk with them about their work and ask questions. You're always welcome to browse the gallery space, and you'll never know what unique piece of art you might find there.
Higashi Chaya District
If you have more time to explore, head over to the Higashi Chaya district. While this area was once famous for its geisha teahouses, these days, you will also find many unique shops occupying its historical buildings selling a wide variety of handmade arts and crafts. It isn't always easy to identify what a particular shop is selling from the outside, which is part of the fun. Peek inside the shop and look around; the friendly shopkeepers are happy for you just to come in and browse. Many of the shops in Higashi Chaya sell modern-style goods and accessories which incorporate traditional craft techniques, making souvenirs purchased here unique treasures of Kanazawa.
Kanazawa Hyakubangai Anto
As a center of commercial activity, it should be no surprise that the area around Kanazawa Station is full of shopping malls and stores catering to those coming and going from the city. The most famous is Kanazawa Hyakubangai, a collection of shops and restaurants now part of Kanazawa Station.
Shop for Unique Kanazawa Crafts at Anto
Anto is one of the sections of Hyakubangai containing shops carrying products unique to the city, including its famous foods and snacks and traditional crafts. Arrive at the train station with plenty of time to spare, and you'll be able to take your time shopping for last-minute goods in Anto.
Many of the shops located in Anto have branch shops around the city but this is where you can visit them all in one go. Most Japanese tourists will purchase individually wrapped food products to take home as a souvenir to their families or coworkers, so let's look at those first.
Kanazawa’s Tastiest Souvenir Ideas
Fumuroya is a shop specializing in products made with fu wheat gluten, which is used as a meat substitute in Japanese dishes. Fu tastes like bread but has a lot of protein and other nutrients and is vegan friendly. While there are many fu products to purchase here, a great gift for Japanese food lovers is the pillow-shaped fu filled with ingredients to make an individual bowl of miso soup. Just crack open the dried fu, put it in a bowl, add boiling water, and in a matter of minutes, you'll have an incredible umami-rich bowl of miso soup.
For tea lovers, don't miss the Maruhachi Seichajo shop at Anto, where you can pick up the 160-year-old tea company's signature tea, Kaga Bocha. It is a tea made by roasting the stems of high-grade tea leaves, is naturally low in caffeine, and has a smooth, woody flavor. If you're unsure about investing in an entire bag before tasting, you can sample a cup of hot or iced tea here also.
Add some sparkle to someone's life with a gift from Hakuichi, where you can get products made using Kanazawa kinpaku gold leaf. There are many cosmetic choices here, including moisturizing facial masks and nail products. And, of course, you can purchase the food-grade gold leaf that can be sprinkled on all kinds of foods, from sashimi to caramel lattes, to take your plating skills to another level.
Kanazawa's first bean-to-bar chocolatier FilFil also has a location in Anto. This company makes small batches of chocolates using unique ingredients that complement the Japanese palate. For example, try a bar of & Sake, a crunchy chocolate infused with sansho pepper and slices of citrus. According to the staff, the flavors are made to go with your favorite cup of Japanese sake.
There are plenty of other types of beautiful traditional sweets; after all, the culture of tea ceremony that uses them is highly developed in Kanazawa. The sweetness of these desserts can be a bit too much for the Western palate, so bear in mind they are often meant to complement the slight bitterness of Japanese green tea. At the very least, these lovely items serve as a bit of eye candy as you browse the shops of Anto.
Shop Kanazawa’s Traditional Craft Items
If you missed out on small traditional craft items, there are several shops in Anto selling items like Kutani ceramic ware, folding washi paper fans, and Kanazawa lacquerware. The selection here is only a sampling of what you'd find in the shops around the city, but there is enough here to find something that will catch your eye as a last-minute souvenir or gift.
As you board your train and wave farewell to our lovely city, rest assured you'll have plenty of souvenirs and foods to remind you of the countless reasons to return to Kanazawa in the future.