The name Kanazawa, which literally means marsh of
gold, is said to be originated from a legend that
the peasant Imohori Togoro washed gold dust in a
local marsh. It is also said that the name is originated
from the fact that the present Kenrokuen Garden
area was called Kanazawago and Kanazawanosho in
Around the middle of the 16th century, the Buddhist
Ikko sect set up a religious government in Kanazawa.
In 1583, Maeda Toshiie, the top retainer of Hideyoshi
Toyotomi who reigned over the whole country, entered
Kanazawa Castle. The Maeda family governed Kaga
(presently Ishikawa prefecture) for 300 years
over the 14th generation henceforth.
During this period, the Maeda family was treated
as the second greatest daimyo (powerful feudal
ruler) next to Tokugawa Shogun (the central governor).
The family's financial power based on the harvest
of rice was invested in the promotion of culture
and learning. This led to the development of a
number of traditional high cultures and activities
including handicrafts (e.g., Kanazawa gold leaf
and Kaga Yuzen), subtle and profound activities
(e.g., the tea ceremony and Noh theater), and
gastronomic cultures (e.g., Kaga cooking and Japanese
sweets). These cultures and activities have been
handed down to this date.
During the modernization of Japan in the Meiji
period (from 1868), Kanazawa was left behind the
industrial development of Tokyo, Osaka, and Nagoya.
Therefore, Kanazawa changed from a leading big
city in Japan to a base city in the Hokuriku district.
Kanazawa escaped war devastation in World War
II. Therefore, historical streets coexist with
a development zone including modernistic buildings
in the city area.