(Before we start: please let us know if you have any problems with all these photos in the blogs. Does it take too long for them to download?)
Last weekend we took a trip to Kanazawa with our friends Sam and Brit Knowlton, from Austin, Texas. It is 2 1/2 hours on the new Shinkansen, in an area previously not easily accessible because of the mountain ranges. We arrived on a special weekend (ha! that is why hotel rooms were so hard to book): the parade for the Hyakumangoku Matsuri (百万石祭, meaning the festival of a million jewels) celebrating Lord Maeda’s arrival at the castle in 1583. Over 2,000 residents in full costume re-enact this historic event. We hope that this slideshow gives some idea of the excitement. We were at the castle when the parade arrived: samurai, court ladies, cheerleaders, marching bands, boy scouts, taiko drums, ninjas, dragon dancers and acrobats……
We couldn’t help comparing this with events in the States. There were dozens of polite Event Staff, no metal detectors, no bag checks, and the few police were mostly involved in keeping Lord Maeda safe from his adoring fans – he was represented by a very popular Kabuki actor. There was no trash around, no yelling, or pushing, no fences or barriers. The only official warning was prohibiting drones and selfie sticks, which can cause nuisance to the visitors!
Kenrokuen Garden is glorious, deservedly designated a ‘Cultural Property and National Site of Special Scenic Beauty’. It is a traditional strolling garden with ponds, waterfalls, paths, plants designed to reflect the seasons, every angle giving a different view, using “borrowed” landscapes, and celebrating the Japanese love of nature. Look at how much care is taken to prop up the ancient trees.
Lunch, of course, and green tea ice cream with gold flakes. Kanazawa is where gold was mined, and gold leaf was made. The Gold leaf Museum gives a wonderful display of this process.
There is no main entrance to the glass, oval shaped 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art – art should be approached from all sides, any angle.
And who recognizes this installation? (with Fiona doing the docent thing!)
(Answer available if you email us). Other exhibitions include Erlich’s Swimming Pool, 2004 and an imagined Land of Xijingman. Here is Michael in its immigration hall where you need to smile, dance and have a good attitude to enter.
More snacks. Cucumber on sticks and KitKat sake. Covers all food groups.
We wandered around the Edo period area, Higashi Kuruwa. Lovely lattice windowed shops and homes and here is a restored, 2 storey tea house which was delightful
Time to go home, below see Michael in our hotel room with his wall-to-wall wingspan: we need some more space!
Ending with a view of spectacular Kanazawa station architecture, the waterfall clock (accurate) and a station official who receives the exiting passengers’ neatly bagged-up trash.
And home on the Shinkansen . . .rice fields seen from train at high speed.