Kanazawa, which means “marsh of gold,” draws its name from an old legend in which a Japanese peasant, digging for potatoes, found flakes of gold in the ground. Today, gold leaf is a major art form synonymous with the city, and even has a designated museum. A City of Crafts and Folk Art, Kanazawa is also known for its intricate kaga-nui embroidery and delicate kutani porcelain, among other handicrafts, making it a shopper’s paradise! There’s also no shortage of history in this coastal city. Once boasting geisha houses and a labyrinthine samurai village, the city was built around Kanazawa Castle. Fire destroyed all but a few small 16th-century castle structures – namely the elegant Ishikawa Gate and some watchtowers that have become a focus of many a photograph today. Just outside the castle park blooms the enchanting Kenroku-en Garden, one of the Three Great Gardens of Japan, and the home of the country’s oldest fountain.