Apr 192008
 

For today’s excursion, the city of Kanazawa, we took the Shinkansen to Nagoya and from there an express train to our destination. On our way in, just out of the city our view was filled with majestic mountains still covered in snow. Kanazawa, located on the North-West coast of the country, faces the Japan Sea and is an historical city of fascinating beauty, famous for its white castle, founded in 1583, and for being home of what is considered one of the best three gardens in Japan: the Kenroku-en (Kenroku-en means “garden which combines six characteristics” – these are: spaciousness, serenity, venerability, scenic views, subtle design, and coolness). The other two gardens are: Koraku-en in Okayama and Kairaku-en in Mito.
The day was sunny and warm so we avoided any public transportation and walked instead. We spent a good part of the morning venturing around the old town, with its wooden buildings, in awe for the details of the architecture.
A side of the city is surrounded by lush hills, and Lindsey, feeling in need for a hike went in that direction, while I set course toward the castle and the gardens. The nicest way to get to the castle and the gardens is an avenue that climbs and twists with shops and restaurants opening on one side. Just like many other places we visited in Japan, this too has an abundance of trees and blooming flowers, and cherry trees here were just starting to come to life, making Kanazawa rival with Kyoto for sheer beauty. I was feeling quite hungry since lunch time had come and gone, and after walking back and forth in front of a few restaurants I picked one for lunch. The hostess walked me upstairs and showed me a nice big table in front of the open balcony with a direct view of the castle. The waitress, few seconds behind, was very nice but seemed a bit perplexed as I ordered two miso-based dishes; I’m guessing that when in Japan one should stick to a single miso dish, probably the equivalent of ordering two pasta dishes at a restaurant in Italy. After a few minutes she came back with a glass of water (misu) thinking that I mispronounced the word. A laughter after, which included the neighboring tables,  I made myself clear on the fact that I wanted the two soups and, although still perplexed (this must have been a very awkward order for her, but hey, I love miso), she put the correct order in and returned later with my food, which was tasty and satisfying. I noticed that the price of a meal in tourist areas is pretty consistent around the country: about $10.

Once taken care of the rumbling stomach, I made my way toward the garden and rejoined with Lindsey. Together we spent several hours exploring and admiring the cure and details put in this place: we had found another photographer’s paradise. We walked out of the gates at sunset time and we enjoyed watching the sun setting over the castle, which unfortunately was already closed, so we walked a bit more around this pretty town before making our way back to Osaka.

A Meal with a View