With its artistic traditions and preserved traditional neighborhoods, the city of Kanazawa, Ishikawa Prefecture, has long been known as "Little Kyoto." But over the past year, it has also been seen as a potential model for future continuing care retirement communities, or CCRCs, nationwide.

About 15 minutes by car from Kanazawa Station, where the fastest train now whisks visitors to Kyoto in about two hours and the new Hokuriku Shinkansen  reaches Tokyo in roughly three, lies one CCRC, Share Kanazawa.

At first glance, Share Kanazawa appears to be some sort of college campus, community center, or perhaps a camping area, with its many wooden buildings connected by sidewalks. U.S.-made silver Airstream trailers sit parked in a number of lots. Small flower and vegetable gardens abound.