Kanazawa Castle and Kenrokuen Gardens Well Worth a Visit
Kanazawa has lots to offer with a mix of modern and decades of history dotted around the city. To really appreciate the Kanazawa of today and days gone by you need more than a single day. However if like many travellers you only stay over for the night, three must see places are the Kenrokuen Garden, one of the three best gardens in Japan and while there it’s very easy to combine that with a visit to Kanazawa Castle, then a short walk to the Omi-cho Market.
Day 44 – April 16th, 2014.
Moni was awake first this morning, I was a bit tired for sure, however not long after we were both ready to check out.
First things first, we head for the Seattle coffee shop which we had seen the night before, at the Apa hotel. A few minutes later we are enjoying our coffees (not quite the best, but by far the cheapest at 340 Yen) whilst walking through town towards our first destination.
“Our first stop is the Kenrokuen Garden”
A garden designated as a cultural property and national site of specific scenic beauty. The Kenrokuen Garden is renowned as being one of the top three Japanese gardens if not the best.
About 15 minutes walk from our accommodation at Murataya Ryokan at to the road called Ohoridori Avenue which is lined with cherry blossom and leads up to the Katsurazaka entrance.
The garden has a few entry points and there is a crowd of tourists waiting to get in as there guides organise the tickets. Moni pays for ours and we make our way in past the congested entrance. Inside the crowds are dispersed and at no stage did we fell it was busy.
The garden is easy to walk around by using the map and keeping to the paths, following the signs to each point of interest. We are blessed with great weather and decide to eat our breakfast on a bench whilst people watching.
“Kenrokuen is a strolling-style landscape garden from the Edo period”
It used to be the outer garden to of Kanazawa Castle. The paths will take you all around the outside and through the centre. Ponds and shrines are all around with a few shops/cafes scattered in between.
Kenrokuen Garden over the years from 1676 has had many Lords from different periods add their desires to the garden which according to a gardening book by Li Gefei is supposed to have the six attributes of a perfect landscape garden: spaciousness, seclusion, artifice, antiquity, watercourses and panoramas and in 1922 it was designated a National site of scenic beauty.
“Gardening Japanese style, Kenrokuen garden manicure”
The garden has constant attention from the gardeners on a daily basis, we found them up the tress with clippers ‘manicure style’ on the ground picking out unwanted items.
There is a lot to look at here and if you are into gardens then you could easily spent half a day walking, for us the time flys and we spend nearly two hours here.
“The bridge crossing the road to Kanazawa Castle”
We exit from the same gate that we entered, and walk across the Ishikawabashi bridge to the Ishikawamon Gate (back gate to Kanazawa Castle)
We are soon in the castle grounds and can see that this is a very low castle, probably due to the fact that it already is high on the road top and has awesome views of around.
The cherry blossoms are past full bloom here and have already started to fall, with the castle and moat in the background many a tourist tries to find the best angle.
Inside the castle walls you can see how big the area is. It’s not the most imposing castle by any means, but the area around it makes up for that. The moat along one side is very picturesque and here we stop for our lunch pick nick on one of the wooden benches.
“The cherry blossoms are falling and blowing in the wind”
it is a wonderful spot.
Many Japanese are out and about at this time of year enjoying the Sakura season. It is something that we rarely do back home, is welcome in the new season in such a way as they do here, I find it rather meaning full and appreciate it totally.
School kids play in the park below, I guess on their lunch break and we watch as big birds fly around and swoop down. They must be attracted to something or protecting young.
We continue our walk and eventually arrive in the park ourselves to see that the birds are probably after food leftovers. These birds are like a wedge tailed eagles and are wonderful to watch swoop and glide.
With still some time up our sleeves before our reserved train leaves we head to the markets. Walking out of the castle grounds and along the road before we spot the Omi-cho market on the left down a lane.
“The Omi-cho market is about 280 years old and known as “the kitchen of citizens of Kanazawa” and the area we are in is called Musashigatsuji”
The market has lots and lots of fresh fish on display, and what a variety. Not just seafood though, you will find fruits and vegetables with the odd clothing store mixed in. Somehow this feels like old style Japan living.
We walk around admiring the wonderful produce, some of which we’d probably not partake in but a joy to see. The Japanese certainly have an abundance of fine produce.
The market is busy but not crowded and we stroll from stall to stall and purchase some oranges, strawberries and a pack of dried vegetables.
And some Lotus roots also Palm hearts and much more.
By now we are well and truly tired, and I had wanted to visit the Ninja house, but this required a reservation which I hadn’t made, probably a good thing as energy was lacking. We sat and ate the oranges (very nice) before heading to the train station which was about 20 minutes away.
“Kanazawa Station is quite a modern looking structure”
A glass dome (Motenashi Dome) meaning welcoming or entertainment and the dome expresses the hospitality of the people of Kanazawa.
We already had our tickets for a reserved seat later that evening which we managed to change for an earlier train.
As we check our tickets for the right seats we realise that our seats are opposite each other split by the aisle, very kindly the single gentleman offered to swap places so that we could sit together. This once again is Japanese hospitality at its best.
As the train departs Kanazawa station we know one thing for sure, we will be back to explore more of what Kanazawa and the area has to offer.
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