In Shirakawa-Go I took a bus and drove to Kanazawa. I’ve read that I can find one of the most beautiful garden in the Japan there and for me it more less looked like that: cool garden + sakura season = AWESOME 😀
Kanazawa was ruled by second most powerful clan in the Edo period and thus rivalled with Kyoto and Tokyo. It managed to escape destruction during Second World War so many sights survived in really good condition. As I mentioned before, Kanazawa is the most known for being one of “three best landscape gardens”. It is also recognised as a City of Crafts and Folk Art in the UNESCO Creative Cities Network.
Was it worth the visit?
That depends, my imagination pictured something more epic and grand. Well, definitely, in my head it was less crowded 😉 It was my first city, where I could see cherry blossoms (and all the crowds that go with it). I was both excited as hell because of all the flowers and overwhelmed with all the people. The garden was great, and because of the sakura season, they have opened it during the night with all cool illuminations. It was gorgeous!
The other sights were also pretty cool, but I am glad I have only spent there one day. Kanazawa is definitely worth the visit but more like a one day trip.
What to see
The name Kenrokuen means “Garden of the Six Sublimities”. It used to be the outer garden for the Kanazawa Castle.
The garden is purely awesome! Just by strolling around through it you can see why it is called as one of the best gardens in Japan. And yes, you can still see it even though it is suuuper crowded. You know, sakuras = crowds 🙂 As a bonus during the sakura season it was opened in the evening and illuminated. AMAZING!!
But just my words won’t convince you, right? There you go, pictures! 🙂
Right when you leave the garden, you can spot the Kanazawa Castle. It looks nice during a day, snuggled with all sakuras trees. But it looks even more amazing in the night when it is illuminated.
Kanazawajō used to be a stronghold for rich and powerful Maeda Clan. During the course of time, it survived a lot of fires and now, what we call a “castle”, is just a gate and turrets. There has been some reconstruction work done (turrets, garden) but the main keep is already gone 🙁 But don’t be discouraged. The place really looks nice! During a night in the garden there was a light and music show, that was beautiful.
Higashi Chaya District
Chaya district is a place where the restaurants, where Geisha are serving, are located. There are 3 of them in Kanazawa, but Higashi Chayagai is the biggest of them all. Take a stroll through it, and you might be even able to spot a geisha or maiko (an apprentice)! Visit some of the tea houses and try some tea.
Nishi Chaya District
It is the second chayagai. It is located opposite to Higashi Chayagai, but it is much, quieter and less crowded. I was fortunate and when I was walking around, I saw a couple taking their wedding/engagement pictures, so I took some too 🙂 They looked adorable!!
Nagamachi Samurai District
It is an old samurai district that is situated at the foot of Kanazawa castle. You can find there a couple of samurai residences, Nomura-ke, being the most famous one. There are other museums around too, but I didn’t go to them. To most of them, you have to pay an admission fee (500¥-1000¥). But visit at least one of them, to see how samurais used to live. Go through the neighbourhood.
I was walking and listening to Shiroyama from Sabaton, and it felt AMAZING!!!
For me, the most breathtaking are the gardens in the residences. The way they are incorporated into the household makes me slow down and just enjoy the day. Imagine now having that in your house. Zen all the way!!!
Now something for the foodies! The fresh food market 🙂 It has been Kanazawa’s biggest market since Edo period (yeah, Edo was long time ago 😀 ). It was fun going around and looking at all weird kinds of food they have 😀 As it is a fresh food market it is mostly weird looking sea stuff and fish. But there are also cookies and other pastries. And if this is not enough for you, pop by to one of many restaurants for some traditional food. I was there in the morning as it is most exciting (yeah, I have something with weird looking food) but also super busy! Later most of the vendors close and only restaurants are open.
What to try
Kanazawa is Japan’s capital of gold leaf which is a very very veeeeeery thin piece of gold (0.125 millionths of a meter). One inattentive touch and it is gone! When you see things made of gold in Japan – statues, altars, ornaments, it will most likely be decorated with it.
But putting decorations aside, the coolest thing is that you can also eat it!!! So go, get a gold-topped ice cream cone and enjoy the weather!! (and no I did not poop gold afterward 🙁 )
Many shops are selling the golden leaves. And you can also take part in some classes. But I was just running around with my ice cream being happy about eating gold:P
Most of the time I was just walking. You get to enjoy the city that way. But there are couple busses that you can take. There are 2 or 3 loop busses. They go around through the most popular spots. You can pay when you hop in (it was either 100¥ or 200¥). In the night there was a special loop bus service, that took you to all the famous spots that were illuminated during the night. You could buy one entry pass or just night pass (500¥). I’ve got the night pass but I regretted it. I only used it to get to the Kanazawa Castle from train station and that was it. The problem was that busses were running from like 7pm to 9ish pm. And if you wanted to see a place, take some pictures there was simply not enough time to make use of the pass fully. But if you are interested, get the pass at the train station.
Crowds and Sakura watching
Look at those crowds!!!! CRAZY!! And yeah, it was before I got to Tokyo. Tokyo changed my perspective about crowds 😛
But also notice how everyone is enjoying flowers! They meet up, sit down under the tree and have a picnic 🙂 The part I loved about it was all those people who decided to wear traditional clothing. It made the atmosphere so Japanese!!! And don’t forget it is a nation of selfie people 😛 So beware of selfie sticks:D
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