This post is part of a Japan Trip series.
Today is the day. I really am going to explore Kanazawa.
Who — other than Hugh Hefner — eats a dozen oysters for breakfast? The denizens of Kanazawa, apparently. Gross.
Clearly the Omicho Market is the place to be this morning — and probably every morning — in Kanazawa. Young, old, professionals, tourists, men, women — everyone’s here and they’re either eating or yelling, buying or selling.
Feeling left out, I purchase a disk-shaped, deep-fried object for $3. I don’t know what this is.
I consume the disk-shaped, deep-fried object with pleasure. I don’t know what that was.
Next stop on my Kanazawa whirlwind: the Kanazawa Castle!
Did I miss something? A big yard, a big door, a big wall. Big deal. I guess the grounds are nice.
The Japanese — you may have heard — take their gardens seriously. Kenrokuen Garden is classified as one of Japan’s three most beautiful landscape gardens. Ponds, streams, waterfalls, trees, bridges, teahouses, pagodas, stone lanterns — Kenrokuen is no doubt a special place (exhibits A, B, and C below):
I am especially drawn to the trees above because they remind me of coronary angiograms (I like hearts). Their branches are supported by a process called yukitzuri which prevents the boughs from breaking under the weight of snow. Mid-November is supposed to be the best time to visit Kenrokeun Garden as the leaves are at their peak of color and the yukitzuri ropes are alit with white lights.
21ST-CENTURY MUSEUM OF CONTEMPORARY ART
Anybody can drop in whenever they want. – museum brochure
Well, not really. Exhibits are from 10:00 – 6:00 and the museum is closed on Mondays. But I don’t mean to nitpick — I appreciate a welcoming museum that doesn’t take itself too seriously — which is why I’m fond of the 21st-Century Museum of Contemporary Art. The experiential exhibits are quirky and clever and obviously selected to engage us otherwise lazy, passive observers, forcing us to question our sense perception. We shout into tuba-like pipes; read tiny, silly signs through telescopes; peer up from the bottom of the swimming people at the people peering down at us from above; watch the sky change through a hole in the ceiling and wander through the shifting Colour Activity House by Olafur Eliasson.
THE NINJA TEMPLE
Final stop on my Kanazawa spree: Myoryuji, a Buddhist temple built in 1585 that served as a place of worship and protection from the shogun for the regional ruling family. Its construction includes multiple escape routes and means of defense, hence its sexy nickname, the Ninja Temple. It’s very Spy vs. Spy.
Reservations are required. The tour begins with the participants sitting on tucked legs (ow!) atop a thin tatami mat inside the shrine as a guide delivers a 20-minute presentation in Japanese. We gaijin are thankfully given an album to leaf-through, which explains what we will be seeing for the remainder of the tour (which is also conducted in Japanese).
The construction of the Ninja Temple is quite cunning, complete with escape tunnels, hidden staircases, pits, trap doors, lookout stations, secret passageways, and a ritual suicide chamber (gift-wrapping rooms are SO passé). From the outside the structure appears to be only two-stories (in accordance with the shogun’s building restrictions) but it is actually comprised of seven layers tucked into four stories. The entire tour lasts an hour.
KANAZAWA AT NIGHT
And at the end of the day? It’s back to Daiba for more Yebisu drafts and tofu salad, of course.
READ the entire Japan Trip series.