In January I went on my first trip this year, to a part of Japan that was completely new to me, and possibly to many of the foreign travelers as well – Kanazawa (金沢市), the capital city of Ishikawa prefecture (石川県) of the Hokuriku (北陸) area.
For most travelers, when speaking of Japan, many think of Kyoto (京都) immediately, and then perhaps the other famous ancient city nearby – Nara (奈良), and young people especially may think of Tokyo (東京) first instead. Even for Japanese, the Hokuriku area is not a typical place that they consider for vacation or something (to my best understanding). One thing is, it used not to be very convenient to be there for Tokyo dwellers to begin with. But it all changed with the opening of Hokuriku Shinkansen the first year I came to Japan, and then the promotion of this area to remind people of its beauty and charms.
During my visit, it was just in time for a series of heavy snows. People may think: Oh what a bad luck! But actually, quite the opposite. The golden city by name was so lovely in white with the snows, and the sea urchins and Japanese sake just got even more delicious under the snowy atmosphere, not to mention soaking in the outdoor onsen while appreciating the falling snow flakes… I felt very lucky. And I felt wise to have carried my camera all the way during the trip. Therefore, although there are some must-go places which should be introduced in a typical trip report, after struggling for 2 days, I decided to tell the story mainly using pictures; so, here it comes, my not-so-useful-but-fully-pictured trip report –
While P was checking how to get to our hotel, I wandered around the gift shops to see what to bring back this time. It was no wonder why the city is called Kanazawa (金沢, golden swamp by the name); there were so many products made of gold foil – gold foil mask, gold foil coffee, gold foil icecream, just to list a few. I am sure you will find your favorite gold foil product here.
Let me do my due diligence to give some introduction after all. Kenrokuen garden (兼六園) is one of the Three Great Gardens in Japan (三大名園). It is a large garden with beautiful ponds here and there, and different bridges and trees arranged with good sense – if you are very into the Japanese gardens, Kenrokuen is like a collection of such beauties. Not to mention all the tea rooms (茶室) there are overlooking the ponds, that could bring you into a picture. I liked the hot amazake (甘酒, sweet Japanese sake) a lot, and I actually sit outside by the pond and had a cup of it.
Next to Kenrokuen is the Kanazawa Castle (金沢城). It was a cool Castle, and perhaps the most stunning moment we had over there was when we dared to try out the gold foil ice cream in a coffee shop close to the Castle. Spoiler alert! Gold foil actually tastes like, nothing – not really a flavor anyway, but it does do a good job in shining up your lip!
When visiting the northern part of Japan, be it Hokuriku, Tohoku, or Hokkaido, it is recommended to pay a tribute to the local Japanese sakes while having the crabs and fishes harvested from the nearby sea of Japan for dinner in any restaurant or izakaya (居酒屋). A very recommended place is Omi-cho Market (近江町市場). There are fresh vegetables and seafood on sale, delicious food stand, and small izakayai open until late in the night.
Besides the beautiful garden and castle, Kanazawa is also an elegant city to wander around. We had too compact a day on our first day there, therefore on the second day, we decided to simply get lost in this silver world – at least this was what I thought. We didn’t use the public transportation but walked aimlessly, and when the snow got heavy we just hid and waited, had some tea or just got ourselves.
After two full days touring around Kanazawa, I spent my second night at a onsen hotel in Kaga (加賀). Kaga is on the west of Kanazawa, with a 40 minutes rail riding, close to Fukui prefecture (福井県). As usual, I had a restful night with the fancy kaiseki ryori (懐石料理) and some good Japanese sake.
And, until the next time, we will be back to home, in Tokyo. 🙂