Kanazawa & the Kenroku-en
Kanazawa Travel Blog› entry 1 of 1 › view all entries
Kanazawa, my first stop, was probably the trip I enjoyed the most for its quaint, old town feeling. It had some 300k people, a far cry from the 12 million-odd residents in Tokyo. I arrived at the bus terminal that departed from Shinjuku, at an outrageous 7am, and decided to cab it straight to the Kenrokuen, as numerous references to it as the star attraction of Kanazawa granted it top priority, and the buses did not run until 8.30am. I also had no interest in freezing my poorly-clad ass off at the terminal where most people would mistake me for a bag lady, with my backpack and shabby outfit.
So Kenrokuen it was - the name literally means "Garden of the Six Sublimities", referring to spaciousness, seclusion, artificiality, antiquity, abundant water and broad views, six attributes that make up a perfect garden according to a Chinese theory - delightfully quiet in the wee hours of the morning, where I took some shots, and went to the Saison kaku villa close by, a traditional house built by a Maeda lord for his mother. The rest of the day was a crusade to visit all nearby attractions, which ultimately culiminated in my walking round in circles in various vain attempts to find the loop bus which i had purchased an all day pass for. By the end of each day trip, my legs were killing me (considering the travesty of a stopover at bangkok where i had to run .5km to reach the transit flight gate, in 20 mins, just days before) and the public sento at my Ryokan was a welcome reprieve that soaked away the aches and made me eat the words I once uttered "hot baths are for ninnies!"
For those who dont like gardens, Kanazawa's next best attraction is its Geisha and Samurai districts.
All in all, Kanazawa was like a tasty treat, not quite a full on immersion program like kyoto is, but it had some plus points with the Garden and Geisha districts which are not swamped with gaijin tourists, unlike kyoto and tokyo, possibly because of the time it takes to bus over to kanazawa and the cost of shinkansening it is hefty (2x the cost of a bus). If you do decide to visit this quaint town, best to stay in a ryokan (murataya at katamachi is gd value, clean comfortable and has a nice sento bath). I missed out on the ninja shrine and other attractions at Teramachi, which is probably worth a visit, the former requiring advanced reservations, and I didnt feel much inclination to visit all the museums either as not all of them were worth the time and money. The 21st Century Museum, supposedly too, is worth a visit, altho i didnt venture into it and simply admired it from a distance.