Sunday, September 26, 2010

Kanazawa Part 2

 I got up the next morning and took another bath in the onsen. This time after the bath I sat on a bench against the wall. It had holes in it and I could look outside over the city. The breeze felt really good after the bath. It was a great way to dry off.

Then I stopped at a German Bakery for breakfast. Well, that's what it's called. I doubt it's very German, lol. It was very good though. I had a sugar covered doughnut and some sort of bread with a hot dog in it.

Then I got on the bus to head to Shirakawa-go. It took about an hour and 15 minutes. The drive was very pretty. Do you see how blue the water is? It's crazy!


We also went through a LOT of tunnels. Tunnels are usually a bit boring, but these were kind of cool. It was crazy how many there were. We went through two back to back (like a second or two of sunlight between them) and it took us about 7 minutes to get through those two. They were so long!

When I arrived in Shirakawa-go it was sooooo cold! Well, I guess it wasn't that cold (I'm not sure what the temperature was) but it was much cooler than I am used to lately. I think the high that day in Kanazawa was in the upper 60s, but I'm not sure what it was in Shirakawa-go. I had a jacket on and still had goosebumps! Luckily, after about an hour or so it warmed up a little bit. It was still chilly, but with my jacket I was comfortable.

The architectural style of the houses in Shirakawa-go is known as Gassho Zukuri, which means "prayer hands construction." It is called that because the roofs look like hands in prayer. The steep thatched roofs are very unique. They are built that way to withstand the heavy snow.

Several of the houses are open to the public, but many of them are guest houses where you can spend the night.


 



I went into two different houses. The first one I visited was Wada House. It was built in the mid to late Edo period (1608-1868).


A fire is left burning on the first floor of the houses. The smoke rises throughout the house through grates on the floor, which you can see in the next picture, and reaches the thatched roof. The smoke helps to keep the roof insect proof and dry. I can't find one of my brochures right now, but I think it said that without the fire, the roof would only last a year or two, but the fire allows it to last for up to 20 years.


Also, the roofs are built without any metal. It is all just wood and ropes. I don't think you can see them in any of my pictures, but some of the beams are bent. They were made from trees that had been bent by the snow. 

After visiting Wada House, I stopped at one of the food stands and bought a chestnut bun. The outside had a picture of a sarubobo, a traditional doll of the area. Sarubobo means baby monkey. It doesn't look like a monkey to me, but it's kind of cute. 


The inside had red bean paste and chestnuts. It was warm and was perfect in the chilly fall weather. 


Outside one of the many gift shops was a ledge with many Studio Ghibli planters. Cute! :)


It was interesting to watch them redo the roof. My brochure says that it took 150-200 village residents to redo a roof. I guess it doesn't take as many people today. 


Next, I visited the Kanda-ke house. 


You can see that the top floor was very smoky! It smelled so good! :) The upper floors of this house were used for silk worm production.


This is a window on the 2nd floor that looks down onto the fire on the 1st floor so that the fire can still be watched from the 2nd floor. 



This is mitarashi dango. It's mochi with a soy/sugar sauce. This was my first time eating it. It's soooo tasty! I enjoyed watching the man cook this over the fire.

The buses didn't run very often so I was there from 10:00 to 1:50. It was a little bit longer than I needed, but I didn't get bored. I looked through a bunch of the gift shops and bought some souvenirs.



I got socks with Hello Kitty dressed up as a sarubobo sitting in an onsen, miso Kit Kats (I haven't tried them yet), and an awesome cell phone charm. I was about to buy one with Hello Kitty dressed as a sarubobo inside a gassho house with snow on the roof and cute snowflakes dangling from it, but then I saw this one...


Godzilla is totally about to smash that gassho house. It was too funny to pass up. Also, he is holding a sarubobo doll, lol.

On the way back I took a few more pictures of the pretty scenery. The water is just so blue! Well, more teal really, but it's so pretty! It looks kind of fake. 




The rice fields here were very pretty (much prettier than the endless ones I saw from the train the previous day). This area reminded me of the puzzle that I have.



When I arrived back in Kanazawa I headed back towards the area around Kenrokuen so that I could visit some of the shops. I took a different route and wandered through Naga-machi Buke Yashiki District, which is an area where samurais once lived. The houses aren't the same anymore, but they have kept the look of the old walls. 



Many restaurants in Japan have plastic food replicas in their windows. This one had felt food replicas!



To reach the stores outside of Kenrokuen, I went through Kanazawa Castle Park. It wasn't that impressive and a lot of stuff is under construction, but it was nice to take a different path.



I bought some really cute Hello Kitty socks at a shop outside of Kenrokuen. They say Kanazawa and have the famous Kenrokuen lantern on them. :)


I went to McDonalds again. Haha, I kind of didn't want McDonalds again (well I wanted it, but it's so unhealthy!) but I really wanted another toy (haha, yeah I'm so like a little kid). This time I got corn instead of fries. I also got a strawberry McFlurry which was really good! So I made it a little healthier by getting corn, but then I made it really unhealthy by getting a McFlurry. Oh well. :)

It's interesting that the Happy Set has five chicken nuggets instead of 4 like in the US because Japanese fast food restaurants generally have smaller portions than in the US. 


I was one of the few people in McDonalds not in a school uniform. It was definitely a high school Friday night hangout place. Many of them had books out, but it didn't look like they were getting much homework done, lol. 

After McDonalds I stopped in Kohrinbo 109, a mall in the main shopping district. I saw this hilarious sign.


 I would be scared to go to that beauty salon!

Here's a pretty manhole cover on the sidewalk on the street outside the mall.


Here's a picture of Forus, the other mall I went to the previous night. 


When I got back to the hotel room I relaxed and watched TV and attached my awesome new cell phone strap to my phone. Maybe I should take some of these charms off now... they're kind of weighing it down, lol.


While watching TV I saw one of the cutest commercials ever. It's total cuteness overload. 


The show that was on was a quiz game-show. If the person in that chair gets too many answers wrong, they get spun (Tornado Spin!) around and around. It's too bad that I turned off the camera when I did because that person was about to speak. It was a man. I really though it was a woman. Hahaha. They really like cross-dressing in Japan.

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