Kanazawa has lots to offer – the lovely Kenroku-en Garden (Garden of Six Attributes) is considered one of Japan’s Top 3 gardens. The castle formerly known as Kanazawa, a reconstructed showcase of traditional Japanese engineering fronted by the imposing, original Ishikawa Gate has a 400-year long history. And there are many cool museums (a candy museum and phonograph museum, to name a few) as well as Nagamachi’s samurai district and the famous MyÅryu-ji “Ninja temple”.
Given that I was only in town for less than 48 hours and can’t speak a lick of Japanese, I missed most of these delights, but I did catch the glorious garden and the reconstructed castle. In the middle of Kenroku-en is a beautifully restored Edo-period tea house, where I paid 700 yen for a bowl of hot matcha and a tiny “namagashi” or fresh-made rice sweet in the shape of a sakura blossom.
My namagashi was topped with the local specialty, gold leaf or “kinpaku”. I made sure to buy a small box of gold leaf fragments at the station, which I will probably use to decorate some golden apples for the children of the Aesir next time my crew of nerds get together to play some Scion (seriously, gentlemen, our campaign is lagging).
While having tea, the young lady next to me struck up conversation by asking me where I was visiting from. Her name was Yumi, and we wandered together through the teahouse, where she told me the three best words to use while touring in Japan were “kawai” (cute), “kirei” (beautiful) and “sugoi!” (cool!). Yumi’s English was excellent, as she teaches Japanese to the large Brazilian population in her hometown in Gifu prefecture.
We walked on to see a fountain that was labeled as being the oldest in Japan, and both expressed our doubts as to the truth of this statement, then decided to visit the castle together. While walking through the castle and looking down from a third-floor turret, Yumi taught me how to say “the view is good”, as you can see in the video below.
At the end of the day, I decided to go back to my ryokan and enjoy the delights of the basement, where coin laundry (300 yen for a huge washer, 400 yen for an hour of drying) and a piping hot shower and onsen-sized hottub with jets awaited me. En route, I walked back through the ÅŒmichÅ-ichiba Market and stopped for dinner, determined to try some local dishes… more on that next post.