Various places lay claim to being ‘little Kyoto’, but amongst them Kanazawa stands out for the variety of its original Edo-period structures such as Nomura House. This is one of the best surviving examples of a high-ranking samurai's house, located at one end of an historic lane of old dwellings with beautifully maintained rooms and gardens. Teahouses in the preserved old quarter are very atmospheric and can be visited on appointment, so one can try Japanese calligraphy then explore the living history of the rooms with their fine ornaments, sliding doors and screens. Kenrokuen garden is in Japan's official top three with several distinct areas and some great views both of the garden itself and the city spread out below. There are also a wealth of local crafts and customs to experience at first hand, from sake breweries to textile studios and it’s refreshingly less crowded than the cities along the main bullet train track.