Kanazawa city 金沢市
One of my goals this past trip was to try to visit someplace new. My friend Chiharu suggested taking a trip to see the city of Kanazawa. Kanazawa is in Ishikawa prefecture on the Japan Sea side of Japan. It is a bit of a trek from Osaka actually but it was highly recommended by several of my friends. Sadly, I chose a wet day to make the 2 1/2 hour trip. I hopped on the “Thunderbird” limited express bright and early and enjoyed the scenic trip through acres and acres of rice fields. Honestly, there were some stretches where the fields went on for as far as I could see.
The city is not very big and is easily navigated but I found the suggested tour bus to be more of an annoyance than convenience. The buses used on this route are quite small and not at all comfortable once you get more than a dozen people on them. Far better to get the all day bus pass similar to what Kyoto uses and then hop on the most convenient bus line.
The garden of Kenroku-en is the jewel in Kanazawa’s crown being one of the “3 most beautiful gardens in Japan”. It’s certainly one of the largest and most varied I’ve seen. Unfortunately it’s also one of the most crowded. Despite getting there before 10:00 am, there was already a line-up to get into the grounds. I would have liked to see Kanazawa castle across the way but decided I didn’t feel like paying the entry fee to see a building that was undergoing renovation work.
The problem with going so far for a day trip is that there’s no way you can get to see everything you want to so it’s necessary to pick and choose. I wanted to see the 21st Century Museum of Modern Art but decided that waiting in line wasn’t going to be the best use of the limited amount of time I had. By far, I spent most of the time in Nagamachi, the old samurai quarter. It’s not a very large area but it’s been well preserved. The garden and tea room of the Nomura residence was a fabulous way to spend some time out of the rain. This is also an area where you can look into buying some of the famous Kutani porecelain. I stopped into Kaburaki, both a museum and seller of Kutani-yaki that was established in 1822. Kutani-yaki isn’t usually to my taste as it shares a lot with Chinese style painted white porcelain. I tend to prefer the more earthy, unglazed Bizen-yaki. However, there was one style of Kutani porcelain that I had seen in an edition of Kateigaho International, a Japanese culture magazine I subscribe to, that really peaked my interest. They had a couple of examples of this style for sale. I spent some time wandering through the museum while deliberating. I had an excellent cup of coffee in their cafe, drunk from perfect porcelain while watching the rain come down. I finally decided that the incense burner I had been eying would make an excellent addition to my growing collection of Japanese pottery.
By this point, with the poor weather not letting up, it was time to head back to Osaka. I was a bit disappointed to not see more of Teramachi or the old geisha quarter of Higashi-chaya but having spent so much time in places like Kyoto and Nara, I’ve been spoiled so the disappointment wasn’t too terrible.