It would be raining on-and-off for my entire first day in Kanazawa. Seeing as how there was nothing that could be done about the weather, I grabbed an umbrella and headed out into the city. I like to think of Kanazawa as the smaller, less famous cousin of Kyoto in that Kanazawa has many of the same types of attractions as Kyoto and the cities feel somewhat similar to each other but Kanazawa isn’t as big and only gets a fraction of Kyoto’s tourism.
The rain had just come to a stop as I arrived in the Higashi Chaya District. The word chaya translates to “teahouse” and Higashi Chaya is one of three teahouse districts in Kanazawa. Higashi Chaya and the other chaya in Kanazawa were entertainment districts during Japan’s Edo Period and it was here that nobles, merchants, and other rich people would come to eat, drink, and be entertained by geishas. Today Higashi Chaya is a preserved historic section of Kanazawa and the public can enter a few of the old buildings. I went inside one of the former teahouses that had been converted into a gold leaf shop. Much like the Gion District of Kyoto, the Higashi Chaya District comes alive later in the day and some of the teahouses are still in operation.
Although the main road running through the Higashi Chaya is where most visitors wander, the smaller nearby streets right are also worth a look. These quieter parts of Higashi Chaya have a residential feel to them and allow you to get away from the crowds for a minute.