Port of Kanazawa
Review and History

The Port of Kanazawa lies on Japan’s west central shores in the Ishikawa Prefecture. The ancient village was named Isiura Village, as today’s Isiura Shrine suggests. One of the best-preserved cities of the Edo period, it is popular with local and East Asian tourists but remains relatively unknown to international tourists due to its remote location. The Port of Kanazawa is the Hokuriku region’s largest city, with a population of about 450 thousand.

Buddhism came to the Port of Kanazawa in the 15th Century, and it was quickly accepted by both samurai and peasants, and the converts had political ambitions. They ruled the town and province, known as “The Peasant’s Kingdom,” for the next century. They controlled the area from the Kanazawa Gobo, a natural fortress containing religious buildings and the priests’ homes surrounded by merchant’s areas.

A fortified temple town, the Port of Kanazawa is similar to the layout of medieval European towns, with the whole town within a fort or castle surrounded by a wall or moat. In 1580, warlords defeated Kanazawa Gobo and began to build a military base. Their effort was short-lived, though, as the village was invaded by the forces of Toyotomi Hideyoshi, who made it a fief of the Lord Maeda Toshiie.

The historic province of Kaga and the Port of Kanazawa were given to the Maeda family in the 16th Century under the Tokugawa rulers, and the Port of Kanazawa remained under that family’s jurisdiction for about three centuries. The Port of Kanazawa is a castle town, and the Port of Kanazawa grew out around the castle.

The Maedas were very wealthy, and their wealth threatened the Shogunate. To deflect attacks, the Maedas invested their wealth in art and culture in preference to military might. They promoted the production of lacquer and gold-and-lacquer artwork and calligraphy, and they collected artwork and artisans from across the country. The Kaga region provided a rich income, ensuring the Port of Kanazawa’s position as one of Japan’s largest cities, through the Edo period.

In the Meiji Period, the central government took ownership of the country’s castles, and they tore many of the castles down. The castle in the Port of Kanazawa became a base for the Imperial Army, and it remained so until after World War II. In 1949, the new Kanazawa University was installed there. Today, the castle area is a state park open to the public.

After the beginning of the 17th Century, the region around the Port of Kanazawa was the richest outside the Shogunate. The Port of Kanazawa attracted many new residents including samurai and commoners, leading to an unorganized town layout. The Port of Kanazawa became crowded with houses, so much so that ordinances had to be passed on where people could live.

The Port of Kanazawa’s main streets in the Edo period were lined with big and luxurious merchant’s homes and markets. City neighborhoods were organized on income. The most wealthy families had large estates throughout the Port of Kanazawa. Due to the city’s wealth, it was filled with mansions.

Unlike other Japanese areas, the samurai lived in the Port of Kanazawa. They were given about 550 square meters of land for every 100 koku of income, a huge amount even in modern terms. While there are still some authentic samurai homes in the Port of Kanazawa, most of them were forced to sell their estates when the Meiji Restoration took their traditional sources of income. Most of the homes were demolished to develop modern housing before World War II.

In 1820, the “geisha districts” were created at the foot of Utatsuyama. While samurai could not go there, the houses were visited by merchants and artisans. After about ten years, the geisha houses were abolished, but they were made legal again just before the Meiji Revolution. They remained in operation until prostitution was made illegal in 1954.

The modern Port of Kanazawa contains ancient industries for which Japan is famous. Fine Japanese lacquer and porcelain are created there. The ancient silk industry has expanded, and today, factories also create textiles from cotton, rayon, wool, and nylon.

For centuries, the Port of Kanazawa has been an important trading port and hub for transportation throughout the Sea of Japan. It remains to be a stop for many international ships. It offers containership services for vessels traveling to the ports of Pusan, Korea, and New York.

Both an urban harbor and a base for processing and distribution of cargoes for the region, the Port of Kanazawa is an international trade port under the jurisdiction of the Kanazawa Port Authority (Japanese). Because sedimentation is rapid in the harbor, the Port of Kanazawa must pursue regular dredging activities.

The Port of Kanazawa sits in the center of an area surrounded by Japan’s Alps, the Noto Peninsula National Park, and the Hakusan National Park. Two rivers flow through the Port of Kanazawa, giving it a relaxed, unhurried feeling. Historically known for the high level of craftsmanship, the Port of Kanazawa continues to create and offer a wide range of wares that include pottery, lacquer ware, gold leaf, hand-painted silk, embroidery, and fishing flies.

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