Kanazawa – 17th April

We were woken early by Dallas texting that he had landed at Sydney airport, at 5:00 am our time (6:00 am in Sydney). We went back to sleep and then had a phone call from Border Security in Sydney. Dallas had left his backpack there when he went through customs! The bag tag had Phil’s contact details on it. Phil gave them Dallas’ phone number and sent Dallas a text to tell him. Luckily Dallas was still at Sydney Airport and was able to go back and get his backpack. Lucky for him!

By this time, we were both wide awake and went down to breakfast. Phil had found out about the Kanazawa Loop bus. It was 500 JPY (about $6 AUD) for the day each. This gave us unlimited access to the Loop bus and the Kenrokuen Shuttle. We felt that this was a great deal as we wanted to cover a lot of ground today. Our first stop was going to be the Samurai area, but we decided to get off a stop earlier to go to the Oyama Jinja Shrine. We were so glad that we did this.

This shrine was so beautiful, serene and peaceful. It also had a small garden that you could wander through based around a pond and a creek. In the morning light, it was just amazing.

We reluctantly left here and headed down to the Naga-machi Buke Yashiki District. This area had some preserved samurai houses and many houses whose facades where similar to the samurai era. Many of these houses had some of the ground floor converted into shops selling ceramics, which the area is well-known for. Walking through this area was amazing. The plants that we could see over the walls looked so beautiful. There were 2 canals running through this area that flowed so quickly. There was a lot of water and it was racing along the canal.

We found the Nomura Samurai House and went in. The beauty in this home was amazing, although I’m not sure where the work of the house was done as in the kitchen and the laundry. The information that we received was that only part of the house had been restored. The simplicity of the rooms was adorned with the amazing gardens and courtyards, letting in natural light, and providing amazing views from each room. The screens were painted with natural scenery. The main garden area was breathtaking. From one room there was a view of the pond, with carp and the plants, whilst from another room the view was of the water flowing into the pond with different highlighted plants. It truly was a stunning place. The tea ceremony room was upstairs and also had a different ‘birds eye view’ of the garden.

We wandered a little more around the streets and headed back up to the main road to get the next bus. Phil thought that we could walk to the castle, but I wanted to see the sites from the bus. (Also the castle was over a kilometre away!). We got on the bus and went over this bridge. You could see the mountains in the background with the river rushing to the sea. We decided to come back here later today and take some photos.

Our next stop was the Kanazawa Castle. We walked through this beautiful park full of cherry blossoms, with a slight breeze so that petals were softly falling down onto us. It was mainly white flowers. It was so pretty, so of course, I had to stop and take some photos.

We went up to the Castle and couldn’t believe the size of the area. We found out that there was a free English speaking tour starting in ten minutes. Winners! We went on the tour with Murata. He was quite funny and told us he was retired. He learnt how to speak English from watching television shows. His favourite show was Desperate Housewives. He explained different features of the castle, including how one corner was not square so the two different corners were different angles. This allowed the guards in the watch tower to have more of a view around the castle and surrounding areas.

Murata pointed out the doors that were made out of wood and iron and the craftsmanship of the wood in the construction of the outer areas of the castle. We didn’t go into the actual castle itself as he indicated that there wasn’t a great deal to see in there. Walking around the grounds, as we did with Murata was free. At the conclusion of the tour, he asked for a ‘donation’ for his tour. It was only 500 JPY per couple, but we just felt that it should have been stated at the beginning. Not that we objected to paying it, but it just felt a little wrong.

After here, we headed back down to the bus stop. There was a lady and gentleman who were wearing traditional costumes having a photo shoot done. Perfect. We took some photos and then jumped on the next bus.

Our next stop was the Higashi Chaya District. This was an old geisha district (or so I thought). We were walking around these beautiful old houses and went into a shop – that had lots of gold leaf items. One of the ladies asked us if we wanted to see a demonstration and ushered us into this room where the artists were working. A gentleman explained to us the process of using gold leaf and how it is still used throughout Japan. It was fascinating. Afterwards, whilst looking in the shop, Phil really liked a piece of art of a dragon. He was born in the Year of the Dragon and is drawn to any dragon related art / pieces. Sadly the artwork was 90 000 JPY which makes it about $1200 AUD. So that was a no unfortunately.

We continued meandering through this section of the city. We found a shop that sold coffee and Phil desperately needed one. They had cheesecake and chocolate cake too, so we decided to share and got one of each. I had some sparking lemon. This stop was perfect – just what we needed. The sparkling lemon was so refreshing, the coffee was perfect and the cakes superb. We wandered on exploring different areas. This area is known for their gold leaf and old tea houses. We found out about a geisha show that was performed here in the evening, but opted not to go as we had already seen a geisha show in Kyoto. However if you are travelling to Kanazawa, this could be a good option for other people.

We saw another shrine, so went in to investigate. It is called Utasu Shrine. It was so beautiful. I was looking around and got a surprise as there was a ninja hiding underneath. It was only when I looked that I realised that it wasn’t a real person. For a split second, I thought that there was someone there. It was really cool. I looked around and found another ninja in the garden.

We decided to head back to the bus to go up to the river. We completed the loop back at the station and headed out again to the river. We had also decided to have an early American dinner tonight (McDonalds) as we generally like to have it once in each country that we visit. McDonalds was near the river, so we went for a walk along the river first. It was so beautiful. There were cherry blossoms lining the river, with these majestic snow-capped mountains in the distance. The river was mostly bubbling along on its way to the sea, although in some places it appeared to be rushing to the sea. We walked along, trying to get a great photo of both the river and the mountains.

We then headed back to McDonalds for dinner. We got on the loop bus, going back the other way to the Station, after getting some drinks and snacks from 7-11. We got back to the hotel by about 6:30. Phil was able to get CNN on the tv and I was able to get several blog posts and photos uploaded. A successful day. Early start tomorrow.

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