By Train -- Direct JR trains from Osaka (via Kyoto) depart hourly; the ride takes less than 3 hours and costs ¥6,930 for an unreserved seat. From Nagoya, direct trains depart for Kanazawa every hour and take about 3 hours; the cost is ¥6,620. From Tokyo, take the Joetsu Shinkansen to Echigo-Yuzawa and switch there for a limited express train to Kanazawa; the trip takes about 4 1/2 hours and costs ¥11,840. In 2014, the Shinkansen will extend from Tokyo all the way to Kanazawa, cutting travel time to 2 1/2 hours.
By Bus -- JR Highway buses (tel. 03/3844-1950; www.jrbuskanto.co.jp) depart six times daily from Shinjuku Station's New South Exit in Tokyo (with a stop also at Ikebukuro Station's east exit), arrive at Kanazawa Station 8 hours later, and cost ¥7,840. There are also night buses, departing from both Tokyo Station's Yaesu South Exit and Shibuya's Mark City and arriving the next morning, for the same price. Buses also depart 10 times daily from Nagoya (¥4,060 for the 4-hr. trip) and twice a day from Osaka's Umeda Station (¥4,300, with trips taking 4 hr. and 40 min.). There are also two buses a day from Takayama (with a stop in Shirakawa-go), which take 2 1/4 hours and cost ¥3,300.
Be sure to pick up the flyer "Kanazawa" at the Tourist Information Centers in Tokyo, at the Narita or Kansai international airports (you can also download it from the Japan National Tourist Organization's website at www.jnto.go.jp by looking under "Browse by Destinations"). In Kanazawa, the Tourist Information Center (tel. 076/232-3993) can book hotel rooms and distributes maps, brochures, and the very useful Eye on Kanazawa with tips on sightseeing. To find the center, open daily 9am to 7pm (with English-speaking volunteers on duty 10am-6pm), turn right after passing through the wicket (you'll be heading toward the East Gate exit); it will soon be on your left beside a shopping arcade. For more information, see www.kanazawa-tourism.com and www4.city.kanazawa.lg.jp.
Internet Access -- The Ishikawa Foundation for International Exchange, a 5-minute walk from the east exit of Kanazawa Station (on the road running btw. the Miyako and Nikko hotels), on the third floor of the Rifare building at 1-5-3 Honmachi (tel. 076/262-5931), has four computers you can use free of charge for 30 minutes daily 8:30am to 5:15pm.
Kanazawa's attractions spread south and southeast from the station (take the East Gate exit). Katamachi, 3km (2 miles) southeast of the station, is Kanazawa's downtown. Sights are too far-flung to see everything on foot, so the easiest way to get around Kanazawa is by bus. All major lines depart from Kanazawa Station, and as many as 15 lines pass Kenrokuen Garden, including the Kenrokuen Shuttle, which departs from platform 6 at Kanazawa Station. Take a ticket when boarding the bus and pay when you get off; the fare is ¥200 to most sights.
Easiest for tourists, however, is the Kanazawa Loop Bus (Shu-yu Bus), which departs from platform 3 at Kanazawa Station's east exit every 12 minutes and travels to all the tourist sights, making 19 stops in a circular route. Stops are announced in English and displayed on a digital board at the front of the bus. A single ride costs ¥200 and a 1-day pass, which also allows rides on city buses, costs ¥500. The bus runs daily from 8:36am to 6pm.
Kanazawa is fairly flat, making cycling a reasonable alternative. JR Rental Cycle (tel. 076/261-1721; daily 8am-8pm), at the west exit of Kanazawa Station, rents bicycles for ¥1,200 per day.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.