Kanazawa is my second last destination while coming back to Nagoya.
Two-week journey is not long and almost reaching its end.
This coty is the biggest and historic city in Ishikawa prefecture.
A part of Kanazawa station is under constrcution for the new Hokuriku Shinkansen that is supposed to finished in 2015.
Due to numerous tourists, the coin lockers are also many nearby the east gate.
You may also take a look at these lockers.
Big lockers for big luggages are few and most of them are in small size.
The tourist center is just near the east gate where you could get tourism information about Kanazawa.
Besides, there are also many restaurants and shop just inside the train station.
About the transportation, the tourist shuttle should be the most ideal choice.
This shuttle is operated by Hokutetsu company with the daypass fare of only 500 Yen.
Bus stops are all located in the east side of train station.
Before you get on the shuttle bus, you could buy your daypass at the office near bus stop no.1.
Thus, following the bus route, our first stop is Higashi-Chayamachi.
Chaya, means "Teahouse" which is the place of high-class entertainment with geisha since the Edo period.
The guests would be entertained in a discreet room with singing, musical instruments, dancing, drinking and etc.
These teahouses are located in the specific district and formed Chayamachi.
In Kanazawa, there are three teahouse distrcists, including Higashi-Chayamachi, Kazuemachi-Chayamachi and Nishi-Chayamachi.
Higashi-Chayamachi should be the most famous one of all.
The street is already crowded with tourists when we arrived there.
Except for some teahouse open for visiting as the museum, most of the houses are specialty shops and restaurants that serve tea and refreshments.
By the way, in the Edo period, the two-floor houses are forbidden excpet teahouses.
Just as the old house district in Takayama, the houses in the chayamachi both have wooden lattices but the color is Indian Red.
Besides, the 2nd floor is different from other machiya for its wooden doors and curtains.
The teahouse we visit is Shima Ochaya (http://www.ochaya-shima.com/)
Its history could be traced back to 1820's.
The admission is 400 Yen and you could also choose to enjoy tea and refreshment in the tea room for 500 Yen (tea and dry confectionery) or 700 Yen (tea and fresh sweets).
In addition, the big DSLR camera is not allowed and has to be stored in the locker.
So, I just photo with my HTC cellphone in the interior.
Going upstairs, the staff will introduce the history of Shima Ochaya.
There are three main guest rooms accompanied with waiting rooms.
Guests would sit in the guest room and the waiting room is the stage for geisha to perform their song and dance.
Though the performance of geisha is not a regular acitivity nowadays, you may see the musical instruments such as the Japanese harp, shamisen, drums and etc.
Even if you really want to see the geisha perfermance, there is another thing you should know first.
Most of the teahouse don't accept the first-time guests and the new guests should be introduced by patrons, no matter you are a foreigner or Japanese.
In the Kanazawa official tourism website, you could look for the geisha's performance on the specific days from June to March (except July and August).
I don't find the English version for this event "金沢芸妓のほんものの芸にふれる旅"
This activity is held in the Saturday afternoon in Higashi-Chayamachi, Kazuemachi-Chayamachi and Nishi-Chayamachi by turns.
The number of guests is limited, so you have to book in advance.
In the ground floor, I take a short break in the tea room for the Japanese tea and fresh sweets "Namagashi (生菓子)".
The filling of this art-like sweets should be made of red beans and tastes nice.
It's said that Namagashi is usually beautifully designed in detail with seasonal and natural motifs to reflect the various objects in Japan's four season.
I think "Green and the leaf" should be the representative of summer.
Before leaving Shima, remember to take a look at the decorations and utensils of geisha in the rooms next to the entrance.
These rooms were used as the dressing room and drawing room in the past but become exhibition rooms for the collections.
Although Higashi-chayamachi is already the biggest teahouse district, it doesn't take a lot of time for visiting.
Since Kazuemachi is not far from here, we also go for a short visiting.
On the bridge over Asano River, I see the eagle in the sky.
It's said that the night scene of Kazuemachi took on this bridge is quite beautiful.
Kazuemachi (主計町), while compared with Hagashi, is the smaller teahouse district along the riverbank.
Most of the houses are high-class restaurants and hotels. Just as teahouses, these restaurants only recieve patrons.
Tourists here are few that makes this place quite.
Due to the glass windows and modern facilities, this district is not so antique and popular as Higashi-chayamachi.
If there is something special, I think that should be the narrow sloping streets, Kuragari zaka (暗がり坂) and Akari zaka (あかり坂), that might remind you of geisha's daily life in this area.
Kuragari zaka (暗がり坂), which means the path in the dark, is a short, narrow slope around the shrine "久保市乙剣宮".
It's said that the famouns writer in Kanazawa usually went to school via this slope.
As for Akari zaka (あかり坂, 明かり坂), it has an opposite meaning of Kuragari zaka that means the path in the light.
This narrow street was originally nameless but named by the writer Itsuki hiroyuki in his novel.
These narrow streets were the paths for giesha in the past that indicate the social status of geisha.
Getting on the shuttle bus again, the next stop is Kenroku-en Garden.
We have our lunch in the restaurant nearby.
This Udon in the cold water is good with a slight lemon flavor.
In such a hot day, it's no doubt the best choice.
Remenber to bring your umbrella against the strong sunlight while visiting outdoor attraction in the afternoon, such as Kenroku-en Garden.
Kenroku-en Garden is one of the best three gardens in Japan and is also the representative garden in the Edo period.
Kenroku (兼六) means the six attributes for the perfect garden: spaciousness, seclusion, artifice, antiquity, waterways, and panoramas.
Spaciousness and seclusion are opposite, and so are the rest two pairs of attributes.
Since Kenroku-en Garden could combine these attributes, it indicates that this garden is a perfect garden.
The style of Kenroku-en Garden is called Japanese stroll garden that adopts rivers and ponds as the background.
Tourists would follow the path along the river and pond to enjoy the well-designed landscape with trees and rockerys.
With different plants for four seasons, Kenroku-en Garden is always scenic all around the year.
In winter, the park is notable for its yukitsuri that are ropes protecting the trees from damage caused by heavy snows.
Kasumiga-ike pond is very beautilful place when we come from the entrance.
The only colorful maple tree beside the lake makes the scene much wonderful.
All the tourists are waiting for a photgraph of this tree, the pond and themselves.
I think autumn may be the best season for the natural scene while everything is green in summer.
This maple tree is indeed attractive, even it's alone.
[the 5m-tall statue of Yamatotakeru-no-Mikoto]
Because the area of Kenroku-en Garden is quite big and there is no specific route for visiting, someone might feel tired and hot.
I would recommend to visit along the outer route around the garden.
By your own eyes, you won't miss too much.
Of course, you could also study the guide information on the official website in advance.
After all, the scene of specific plants could only been seen in the specific season.
So, you don't have to waste your time to look around the entire garden.
Inside the Kenroku-en Garden, there is another attraction called Seisonkaku which was a villa build by a Maeda lord for his mother in 1863.
The house we visit is only a part of its remains. Because photographing is prohibited, I could not show you the pictures.
Seisonkaku was built in the buke-shoin style with a formal guest chamber is in the main floor.
The living rooms are named by animals, such as turtle and butterfly.
You may look carefully at the wooden skirting of the paper sliding doors that the animals are painted corresponding to the room name.
In the upper floor, the rooms are decorated with strong colors.
For exmaple, the room "Shoken-no-ma" features purple walls and dark-blue ceilings that are quite rarely seen in other Japanese architecture.
With many colorful decorations and extraordinary manners, Seisonkaku is not only gorgerous as the lord's palace but also delicate as the female housing.
Due to the hot weather, we don't stay at Kenroku-en Garden after I visit Seisonkaku.
In fact, we have lots of time in Kanazawa and thus we don't have to hurry for all the attractions in just one day.
Before going back to the hotel, we go to the Omicho market where is a famous local market for seafood, vegetables and other stuff.
You could find many restaurants that serve delicious dishes, such as Kaisen Don and sushi.
I think enjoying delicious meals is also an important part of travelling.
Toyama and Kanazawa are the cities close to the Toyama Bay, and therefore they both have rich, fresh seafood such as Toyama shrimps.
Looking around the market, the number of the restaurants serving Kaisen Don is about seven or eight.
Each restaurant is crowded with numerous tourists, even it's already three o'clock in the afternoon.
Even though Kaisen Don is the famous dish in Kanazawa, I prefer another way to enjoy the fresh seafood.
For me, the real high-class Japanese cuisine is Sushi, especially served by the professional sushi master.
Among all the restaurants in this market, I finally choose a sushi restaurant "吉右衛門" for my early dinner.
The order of the dishes is quite interesting by using the screen in front of you.
You could survey the menu with pictures and send the order by pressing the "注文" button.
The pavement is also calculated automatically and you just tell the casher about your seat number.
This is quite easy, even you could not speak Japanese very well.
Thus, I order ten nigiri-sushi that includes the urchin, salmon eggs, black tuna, shrimp and other seafood.
Though the sushi is so expensive that you may buy lots of food in the supermarket, It's really amazingly delicious.
While I travelled in other countries, I would also find the Japanese restaurants for tasting.
However, the quality is not so perfect due to materials and skills.
No doubt, the real perfect Japanese cuisine is only found in Japan.
Among these ten nigiri-sushi, I would recommend the black tuna and urchin.
These two seafood is rarely available in other countries including Taiwan.
I think this meal is my second most expensive meal in the journey (than the Hida beef steak in the restaurant of Takayama).
However, I think it's worth trying the delicious sushi, especially in Kanazawa.
The second day in Kanazawa, we contionue the trip from Kanazawa Castle Park opposite to Kenroku-en Garden.
Take a look at another side of the road, you may find a statue that is Maeda Toshiie with a tall helmet.
Kanazawa Castle Park is established on the ruins of Kanazawa Castle that is still being restored continueously.
This castle was found by Maeda family in 1853 and reconstructed in 1592.
With the ill fate, it was burned and rebuilt for many times.
During World War II, the site was taken over and used by Imperial Army, and then became the site of Kanazawa university.
Nowsdays, with the remains of Ishikawa Gate (石川門), Sanjukken Nagaya (三十間長屋) and Tsurumaru Storehouse (鶴丸倉庫), this place is turned to be a public park.
Entering through the Ishikawa Gate into the park, you may also notice the grid-style architecture of the wall.
This Japanese wall design is called Namako-kabe or Namako Wall.
The feature of the Namako wall is the white grid pattern on black slate that is fireproof and could protect the vulnerable external walls from the physical damage and damage from rain.
Why this kind of wall was named "Namako (Sea Cucumber in Japanese)"?
It's said that the white round clay joints between black slate look like sea cucumber.
By the way, the white roof tiles are made of lead that is also fireproof.
The area of the park is quite big. Without trees, it's pretty hot to walk around here.
Due to the remains, you will not think this is only a park.
The long Gojikken Nagaya (五十間長屋) with two trrets has already been rebuilt according to traditional methods and the gate nearby, Hashizume-ichi-no-mon, is also under restoration.
Ishikawa Gate and Kahoku Gate are open to public. Inside the gate, you could realize how they rebuilt the architecture.
Such a huge castle is what I didn't experience in Inuyama and Toyama.
The scale of Kanazawa Castle also indicates how powerful the Maeda clan was and why Kanazawa was developed as the big city in the ancient Japan.
Walking the path behind the Hashizume-ichi-no-mon Gate, there is a tourist center showcasing the data about the history of Kanazawa Castle.
The vending machines and the cool air makes this place a perfect rest area to avoid the heat.
In front of the tourist center, I find a colorful maple tree that should be the most beautiful one I've seen in my journey, and I spend a few minutes photographing the leaves.
Sanjukken Nagaya could be visited with the admission paid at the office in the plaza.
Though this building is pretty long, it's only a warehouse and I prefer the Sanjikken Nagaya storehouse nearby.
The Sanjukken Nagaya is an important cultural asset that is the remaining structure of Kanazawa Castle.
It's a pitty that the utensils and other related stuff are not shown in the house.
However, you may still observe the huge beams built in a special style that you don't see in Minka or Machiya.
I think if the Tenshu (donjon) could be restored someday, it would be great and the park would be more attractive than now.
After the Kanazawa Castle Park, the next stop is 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art.
This modern museum was established in 2004 with the simple one-floor architecture.
In the yard, there are some art installations which look interesting.
Except for 21st Century Museum, other museums are also located nearby and form a zone of art.
The current paid exhibitions in the museum are Visceral Sensation, Fiona Tan and Isabel & Alfred Aquilizan.
Most of the exhibitions are abstract and displayed in a modern form including the vedios.
About the art, I really don't know too much about it.
However, the large installation of many cardboard houses is easy to realize.
The title is called "In-Habit: Project Another Country" by Isabel and Alfred Aquilizan.
Its original model is based on the homes of the Badjao who lives on boats or build the houses on the high platform in coastal shallows.
They want to express how the globalization changed their way of life and the freedom of where and how we live.
At the corner, children could make the cardboard house by hand.
That is nice, even the visitors may not know much about the art and the abstract thought.
We all know a regular rule in most of art museum that photographing is prohibited to protect the collections.
However, you could take some interesting pictures in the only large installation in this museum: the siwmming pool.
The lower level of the pool could only be accessed via the tunnel in one of the paid exhibitions.
As for the upper level, the area is open to public.
No matter which level you stay, you could see the interesting scene consisits of waves and people that looks like an active modern painting.
This installation is created by Leandro Erlich in 1999, who is an Argentina artist majoring in interesting visual art.
Basically, the attractions we are interested in are already finished here.
Though there are Nishi-Chayamachi and Myoryoji (Ninja Temple), the transportation is not so convenient and we don't want to walk under the big sun anymore.
Before going to Omicho market for the second time, we take a short stroll at Nagamachi Samurai District.
This district is an area that showcase the feel of the samurai housing in the Edo period.
Unfortunately, none of the actual samurai houses remain and most of the houses here are all private.
If you are really interesting in the samurai house, you could go to the Nomura House which was once the samurai house but is open to public as the museum.
In addition, Oyama Shrine is also an optional attraction near Nagamachi Samurai District.
This shrine was built to honor the founding father of the Kaga Domain, Maeda Toshiie.
There is an unique gate with stained-glass windows that reflects the mixed elements of Japanese, Chinese and European.
Omicho market is indeed a good place for delicious meals.
Coming here again, I search for a recommended curry restaurant in the first basement: the Champion's Curry.
If you look for the delicious food in Kanazawa, you could get many introduction articles.
Champion's Cuury is just one of the best recomendations.
The feature of this curry is the source with beef mince.
The portion could be meduim or large, and you could choose the sidedishes as you wish, such as the fried pork or shrimp.
With the cheap price, this restaurant is always crowded during the lunch time.
Due to the hot weather, we take a rest in the hotel watching TV.
Smart phone is also a nice device for accessing interest in the room.
In the late afternoon, we go to kanazawa train station for another recommended food: Oden.
Oden is also popular in Taiwan and could be found in most of the convenience store.
The restaurant in the food court of kanazawa station is "黑百合".
Oden is a Japanese dishes consisting of several ingredients stewed in light dashi soup.
Because ingredients vary in different region and restaurant, you may find the one that is not available in another place.
I order the sardine fish ball, shrimp oden, stwed beef tendon and white radish (Daikon).
These ingredients are not available in Taiwan's convnience store.
Even we have white radish in Taiwan, the taste is different.
Of course, the price may not so cheap for an average of 220 Yen while one ingredient is usually 15 to 20 taiwan dollars (45 to 60 Yen).
Except for the Oden, I also order a traditional dish of Kanazawa, called "治部煮" that is the stewed dish of duck and vegetables.
Kanazawa is indeed a city with delicious food, and I enjoy a lot with so many wonderful dishes today.