Sunday, January 29, 2017

Kanazawa

20160415_153811_7D_IMG_33480

We left Yamanouchi and the snow monkeys, and bade farewell to the Japanese alps as we drove to the northwest coast of Honshu.  We were heading to Kanazawa, about 150 miles away, which took 3 hours; all of it was high-speed expressway.  We looked forward to seeing the northwestern coast of Japan, but we spent more time in tunnels than we did out of tunnels, so we didn't get to see much of the coast, although the drive was interesting enough.

20160415_134253_LG_G4_0415161342

We arrived in Kanazawa around noon, dropped our rental car off next to the train station, and then walked a couple of blocks to our hotel. We were too early to check in, but they were happy to store our bags.  We'd discovered that Japanese hotels simply don't do early check in.  When they say 3 pm, they mean it (and 3 pm was generally the standard time).  Not that it was ever a problem for us, but it did surprise us in it's absoluteness and universality.  We set off on foot to explore the nearby area, and stumbled on a food court with many displays of what the restaurants served.  This kid's meal amused us.


20160415_150657_LG_G4_0415161506

We strolled through the Omi-cho market, which had lots of fresh fish and produce.  After our dinner the previous night, we definitely noticed the trays of bamboo shoots, which had been so fantastic when roasted.

20160415_150818_LG_G4_0415161508a
20160415_151129_LG_G4_0415161511

20160415_152314_7D_IMG_33462

We walked on, through some traditional neighborhoods to Kanazawa Castle Park and Kenroku-en Garden.  It was a grand park, with some massive doors.

20160415_153346_7D_IMG_33470

20160415_153512_7D_IMG_33472

As with many beautiful places we've been to, a bride and groom thought it was pretty too. 

20160415_153541_7D_IMG_33473

20160415_153719_7D_IMG_33477

We moved on to give some roof tiles the paparazzi treatment. 

20160415_153725_G9X_IMG_0373
20160415_153737_7D_IMG_33478

But the couple was moving the same direction, and we saw them again on the pedestrian bridge crossing from the castle park to Kenroku-en garden (as did many others, to their amusement).

20160415_154030_7D_IMG_33488
20160415_154445_7D_IMG_33490

The gardens would have been fantastic, even if they hadn't been in full bloom; the smell of the different varieties of cherry blossoms was layered and wonderful.

20160415_154900_7D_IMG_33494
20160415_163845_G9X_IMG_0387

As we wandered, wide-eyed, we bumped into the most polite, under-stated tout, who quietly asked us if we'd like to tour a museum of traditional arts (the Ishikawa Prefectural Museum of Traditional Arts and Crafts).  I don't think we were in a museum mood, but we just couldn't say no to her, and thank goodness.  It was awesome.  She's probably the perfect tout for this museum.

20160415_161426_LG_G4_0415161614

They had a huge array of various crafts from beautiful handmade paper, to bamboo fishing poles, and a dizzying array of hand tied fishing flies to go with them.

20160415_161650_G9X_IMG_0383

20160415_161700_G9X_IMG_0384

20160415_161822_LG_G4_0415161618

Some exhibits showed the process of a craft, others were just examples of it.  Lots of great woodworking.

20160415_162713_LG_G4_0415161627
20160415_163849_7D_IMG_33514

We walked back out into the park at the beginning of the golden hour, and wandered a different return route towards our hotel.

20160415_163901_7D_IMG_33515
20160415_164217_7D_IMG_33517

In the middle of the pond garden, was a group of women in kimonos taking pictures of each other.

20160415_164221_G9X_IMG_0389
20160415_164543_G9X_IMG_0390

We had very much lost our selfie skills, but fortunately a passerby offered to take our picture. We traded photographer services with her in front of this beautiful tree. She was a bit particular, with a very specific shot in mind, and David had to take some direction and give it a few tries before she was satisfied. Our expectations weren't too narrow, and we were happy with her first shot.

20160415_165516_7D_IMG_33525

We didn't tour the castle itself (its hours and our timing didn't mesh well), but it was fun to walk around.  We also saw some pretty ducks that David hasn't been able to identify yet.

20160415_165916_7D_IMG_33532

20160415_172056_G9X_IMG_0400

We took a different route back through town, and saw some different architecture and neighborhoods.  As we walked through a small park, we saw a gang of young boys playing with and enthusiastically trading their surprisingly realistic cap guns--not a single tell-tale of a toy gun (orange barrel, etc.) to be seen.

20160415_172346_LG_G4_0415161723

20160415_172401_LG_G4_0415161724

On one sleepy shop street, we saw a number of stores that sold just walkers and two wheeled grocery baskets. 

20160415_172402_G9X_IMG_0401
As we headed back to our hotel to check in, we saw various restaurants coming alive for the evening meal. We were catching the train down to Kyoto the next morning. After a quick dinner we turned in for an early night, expecting a full travel day and a new city to explore the next day...