Japan // Central Honshu //

Nishi Chaya and Myoryu-ji

The third of Kanazawa’s pretty geisha districts, Nishi Chaya, is on the south side of the Sai-gawa, ten minutes’ walk from the distinctive iron bridge Sai-gawa Ohashi. It’s less commercial than Higashi Chaya – to see inside the beautifully decorated teahouse Hana-no-Yado (華の宿) you need only buy a coffee or macha.

Five minutes’ walk east of Nishi Chaya, in the temple-packed Teramachi (寺町) district, you’ll find Myōryū-ji (妙立寺), also known as Ninja-dera. Completed in 1643 and belonging to the Nichiren sect of Buddhism, this temple is associated with the Ninja assassins because of its many secret passages, trick doors and concealed chambers, including a lookout tower that once commanded a sweeping view of the surrounding mountains and coast. It’s necessary to book a tour to look around the temple, however the guides barely make an effort, so don’t make this a priority.