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.
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.
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.
We walked on, through some traditional neighborhoods to Kanazawa Castle Park and Kenroku-en Garden. It was a grand park, with some massive doors.
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).
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.
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.
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.
Some exhibits showed the process of a craft, others were just examples of it. Lots of great woodworking.
We walked back out into the park at the beginning of the golden hour, and wandered a different return route towards our hotel.
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.
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.
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.
On one sleepy shop street, we saw a number of stores that sold just walkers and two wheeled grocery baskets.
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...