Kaikaro is a historic chaya or teahouse in the Higashi Chaya-gai district that still functions as a working house of geisha entertainment today. In the evenings this exclusive teahouse receives wealthy patrons by invitation only. However, during the day it is open for the general public to come inside and have a glimpse of the traditional refined beauty of the geisha world.
Kaikaro is the largest chaya in Kanazawa and is listed as one of the city’s historical buildings as it is over 195 years old. Outside you can see typical chaya style lattice-work on the windows that lets in the light, but keeps outside eyes from looking in. Inside there are many gorgeous details beginning with a red lacquered stairway “wide enough for a guest and a geisha to walk hand in hand”. In the upper rooms there beautiful hanging scrolls on display and dramatic ink paintings on sliding doors. Some tatami matted rooms have unusual red checkerboard patterns, and most luxurious of all is the Golden Tea Room.
Instead of typical tatami rush mats, the mats of the Golden Tea Room are made of special paper woven with gold. The whole room shines!
English information pamphlets are available on entry and there are also English explanations posted around the house. Downstairs there is a souvenir shop and a tea room with a sunken hearth where visitors can enjoy a cup of powdered green tea with a traditional sweet.
Together with the nearby Ochaya Shima teahouse, Kaikaro is one of two geisha houses in the Higashi Chaya-gai district that are very popular with tourists. However, unlike Ochaya Shima which has been preserved as a museum, Kaikaro is still a working house of entertainment. Although, the general public cannot visit Kaikaro most evenings, there are occasionally some special geisha events that anyone can attend. These seasonal parties include geisha song and dance performances, full course meals, and traditional party games. To find out more about these events please visit the official Kaikaro website.
Kaikaro is located in the Higashi Chaya-gai district. To get to the Higashi Chaya-gai district from Kanazawa Station take a Kanazawa Loop Bus to the Hashibacho bus stop. The bus takes 7 minutes and costs 200 yen. From Hashibacho bus stop, the Higashi Chaya-gai area is a 5 minute walk.
Open: 9.00 – 17.00
Adults: 750 yen (1,200 yen for admission + green tea)
Children aged 7 – 18: 500 yen
Children under 6: Free
Article and original photos by Michael Lambe. All rights reserved.