Thursday, October 06, 2005

Kanazawa

I finally got around to posting a bunch of my favorite photos from Minako and my trip to Kanazawa, in Ishikawa prefecture. It was a late "Summer vacation," because my company wouldn't let me take a break any earlier. It was a lot of fun despite the late date.

We took the shinkansen as far as we could, then transferred to a plain old express train for the rest of the way. It's so nice travelling by train. Just show up at the station and off you go. No haul to the airport, no security wait, no buying tickets in advance (unless it's a holiday). This train ride took us through the lush rice country of Toyama prefecture.

We got off to a late start, so by the time we arrived and checked into our ryokan, we only had a little daylight to look around the Higashi Chaya district. Really spectacular. I'd only seen these districts on tv, never in person before. Kanazawa had the lucky coincidence of being both a historically wealthy area and too lacking in industry to be worth being bombed during World War II. Thus there is a lot of great traditional culture and architecture to be found. It still remains pleasantly rural though.

The next day we started off with a visit to the local fish market. Shrimp seemed to be in season. Large blocks of ice scattered about the market kept things a little cooler. The sushi was great. After that we went to the "Ninja" Temple, which was quite interestingly outfitted with trick doors and traps, but prohibited photos. Next we visited a local kiln. It really made me want to get back into pottery. It's just so expensive to do around here. This place let you paint your own designs, but that's not enough for me.

Following this we made our way through the Nishi Chaya district. Four more cool buildings I saw on our way back to the ryokan: a house, an inn, a fu shop, and another old house.

The next day we had coffee with gold leaf in it (gold leaf is one of the local specialties), then headed to the local traditional park, Kenroku-en. There were many tourists there. The trees were nicely trained and there was a great deal of water as well. Then unfortunately it was time to go home, after a quick stop at the souvenir shop to take care of coworkers, roommates, and family.

I felt very relaxed the whole time were out there, the air felt cleaner, and people didn't seem frantic to get somewhere. Almost enough to make me want to ditch Tokyo and go teach English in the countryside. Almost.

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