Sunday, September 26, 2010

Kanazawa Part 1

Because of autumnal equinox day (no school!) and a makeup day off for going to Sports Day on a Saturday, I had a four day weekend. I took advantage of the long vacation to travel somewhere a bit further. I decided to go up to Kanazawa (a city with about half a million people). Well, it took me a little while to decide. Kanazawa has Kenrokuen, which is considered to be one of Japan's most beautiful gardens. It is also close to Shirakawa-go, an old village with unique architecture. However, I didn't really know a lot of other things I wanted to do there and wasn't sure if it would be worth the money. I wondered if I should just go to Tokyo instead. However, less than a week before the weekend I decided I would go and booked a hotel for two nights. A couple days before I left I saw the weather forecast and saw that it would be cold and rainy. Yuck. I started thinking that maybe Tokyo would have been better.

Kanazawa is pretty far away. This map will show you. I highlighted many of the cities I have visited and Toi is marked in purple. Kanazawa is the furthest north I've been in Japan.

It took a long time to get there. From this area, there's not a very direct route. I had to go west to Maibara (between Nagoya and Kyoto) and then go north. There isn't a Shinkansen that reaches Kanazawa (there will be in 2014, though it will be from Nagano so it wouldn't have helped anyway) so I had to take a slow train. I took an express train that skipped a lot of stations, so it wasn't as bad as it could have been.



Here was my itinerary for the day:
  • 6:59 - 7:45 Toi -> Shuzenji (bus)
  • 7:54 - 8:30 Shuzenji -> Mishima (train)
  • 8:59 - 11:15 Mishima -> Maibara (shinkansen)
  • 11:59 - 1:51 Maibara -> Kanazawa (train)
It was about seven hours of traveling! Though it's not really that bad. I would hate to spend 7 hours on a plane. Even in a car seven hours is pretty bad. I don't mind the trains as much. Plus, in between the different trains I can walk around the stations and buy snacks and stuff.

Sometimes I actually really enjoy the trains. I sit and enjoy the scenery or just relax and listen to music on my ipod or play video games on my DS. But that day the view was just not that great. It looked pretty gross actually. Here's a view from Mishima Station.


After several hours I reached Maibara and then took the train north to Kanazawa. I had been looking forward to this train ride because I'd get to see a part of Japan I hadn't seen yet. However, the view was mostly very boring. It was rice fields, and more rice fields, and even more rice fields. Oh, and tunnels too.


By the time I reached Kanazawa I was very glad to get off the train, but I wasn't too excited to be there. But as soon as I exited the ticket gate at the station I started to get excited. The station had stores and restaurants and was pretty lively. I walked through the shopping area and was entertained by the 90s pop music they were playing. As I stood in a bookstore I heard them played Lucky by Britney Spears. A middle aged Japanese man walked by and was humming along with the song quite loudly. I was very entertained.

The station exit is really cool.


I really loved this twisty curvy gate!


This clock was super cool. The numbers are made up of many tiny fountains! :) It also displays messages such as "Welcome to Kanazawa."


My hotel was right next to the station, but check-in time wasn't until 3:00 (and as you can see it was 2:04) so I wandered around the station, picked up an English map of Kanazawa, and ate at Doutor, a coffee shop. I had cinnamon and brown sugar banana chips, a roasted chicken calzone, and an iced latte.


After eating I still had a bit of time left so I went and purchased my Shirakawa-go bus tickets for the next day. By the time I finished that it was about 3:00 so I went and checked into the hotel.

The room was a little bigger than I was expecting. I had been expecting it to be a little smaller. I guess I'm more used to the hotels in Tokyo. However, this room does not have a shower, so I had to use the onsen. If I had not been to the onsen a few a weeks ago I probably would not have chosen this room, but now I'm okay with that. I would want to go to the onsen anyway so I really didn't need my own shower.




I didn't spend too much time in the hotel room and soon I headed out to go to Kenrokuen. It was gray outside, but it wasn't raining. It was a bit chilly though. I wore a jacket! Just a couple weeks ago that would have been crazy. I was still sweating like crazy a couple weeks ago. Now I need a jacket!

On my way to Kenrokuen I passed Oyama Shrine. I had wanted to visit this shrine and didn't know that it would be on my way to the garden.


It's a really unique shrine because it has elements of Japanese, Chinese, and European architecture. See the stained glass at the top?

There was a small garden by the shrine and it was really pretty! I loved the wooden walkway across the water.


Outside of Kenrokuen are many shops. I didn't go to any then because it was a little after 4 and Kenrokuen closed at 6.



Kenrokuen was beautiful! No matter which way you turn there is a great view, so I took a ton of pictures.

The information in the brochure I received is a little hard to follow, but the garden was developed between the 1670s and 1820s. It is now covers about 25 acres.


That is the oldest fountain in Japan. It uses the water pressure from the higher pond in the garden.


The lantern on the right is the Kotojitoro Lantern. It is the symbol of the garden.



They really do a lot to support the trees. These supports are seen year round, but the garden is also famous for its yukitsuri, which protect the trees from heavy snow.







I uploaded more pictures of the garden on facebook, so be sure to check out the link I put at the end of this post.

As I walked through the garden the sun began to come out. The weather had been great for visiting because it wasn't hot and I was really comfortable in my jacket. The overcast sky was actually good too because it was good lightning for my pictures. But the sunshine towards the end was nice after seeing gray skies all day! :)

I left at 6:00 because it was closing. I would have liked to spend a little more time, but I still got to see everything.

I headed back towards the hotel. Near the garden was a different hotel and it had something really shiny outside. I got distracted.


This is the moat around Kanazawa Castle, which is across the street from Kenrokuen.


I took a slightly different route to go back to the hotel. I liked this tree lined street.


It led to the main shopping district. I passed by a McDonalds. I was planning on grabbing some food at a konbini on the way back to the hotel, but I saw a sign for the Happy Meal (Oops, I mean Hapi Setto!) toys.


They're taiko drums from the taiko game I have for my DS. They're so cute! I couldn't pass them up! They had four different ones available (the top four) and I got to pick the one I wanted, so I chose the pink one! :) Haha, this is kind of sad isn't it? Does this sound like a blog written by a little kid? Oh well, lol.


This is a sign outside the lottery ticket place. Isn't it cute?


It took about half an hour to walk back to the station. This is what part of the station looked like. It was so empty! Actually this is underneath the front plaza area of Kanazawa Station. I think this underground part is actually a different station.


It had a cool waterfall.


Then I looked around the mall for a little bit. The mall was right next to the station and across the street from my hotel. I didn't stay there too long though. I was ready to get in the onsen!

The onsen was very nice. It wasn't as fancy as the other one I've been to, but I wasn't expecting it to be. There weren't any tea baths, massaging waterfalls, or bubble jets. It was simple, but it was nice and warm and relaxing! This picture is taken from their website. This is the men's onsen, but the women's onsen looked very similar.
There were two baths, an indoor one and an outdoor one. I went into the indoor one first. Then I went to the outdoor one. The outdoor one was surrounded by solid walls so you couldn't see outside except for the sky. But it was still nice to feel the slightly chilly air while in the super hot bath. When I got out of the water I could see steam coming off my body.

I felt very refreshed after the bath. I really miss baths here. I have a bathtub but it's old and a little bit gross. Taking a bath in it would not be relaxing at all. And onsen are just super awesome. They're really warm and they don't get cold as you sit in them!

I sat in bed for a while and looked at the tourist brochure and looked for more places to go. I had the TV on and it was oddly entertaining as usual.


Don't ask. I don't know. It's a comedy show, but beyond that... I don't know... Japanese TV is weird...

Here is my facebook album! Please look at the pretty pictures! PRETTY PICTURES

6 comments:

  1. Gah, nothing in Japanese is sad! Plus, if you say that you're kind of sad for liking Happy Meal (Hapi Setto) toys, then I must be sad, too! *LOL*

    Besides, I liked the first and the third ones from the top. ^^ They are super adorable!

    I'm tempted to ask about the TV show, even though you said not to ask. :D

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