Kanazawa city turned out to be the perfect middle ground between the solitude of Ainokura and the vividness of Kyoto. That’s why we stayed for a few hours, and, thankfully to the locals, could make full use of our short time there.
As one can expect, amongst the steep paths and crisp air of Ainokura, we got up early and again nearly blanched at the sheer amount of food we were to eat. We couldn’t insult our hosts, so we stretched ourselves to the limit, so to speak. After that we went out to catch some sun, walked about as many streets as we could before we had to head down to catch the intercity transport. The infrastructure was amazing, by the way, for such a remote place in the mountains, and we are thankful it got us to this gorgeous corner of the world.
Traveling to Kyoto nonetheless would take a long time, so we decided to make a one-day stop in Kanazawa.
We planned to leave our luggage in the lockers in the train station and hop on over to the local castle, its park and the famous gardens in the city center for a few hours. We had some trouble with orientation, as the map we had was small and not detailed enough. We headed in the wrong direction and it took us thirty minutes to realize something was wrong. We had crossed the right bridge, only we were now on the wrong side of it. It turned out we were in the outskirts of the city that were once meant for entertainment. All that was left of that entertainment were only slightly suspicious – and, granted, charming – old buildings and dubious signs. Once we reached the right side of town, it dawned on us how large both the city and its buildings really were. We asked people for help, and they explained mostly with hand signs and foot wiggles. Little by little we reached the places of interest. We came across a policeman who drew on our map both our current location and the castle without uttering a single word. Our map was in Japanese, but we reached the castle in a few minutes, though first we tried to enter through a forbidden entrance and then decided to acquire a map in English from another friendly man. This time we couldn’t make any mistakes had we wanted to, so we finally entered the castle’s park to look around.
|We couldn’t resist the delicious rice balls with cherry blossom dressing.|
It took us a six-kilometer walk and asking six people for help to get to the damn castle (which has been used as both a fortress and a university campus).
After that little visit, we walked through one of the great doors and a bridge and entered the Kenrokuen Gardens, famed for its beauty. I’d rather let the pictures speak for themselves here and snack on my cherry-flavored rice balls instead.
|A fountain made with natural water pressure.|
The little streams in the park were so dreamlike that we almost forgot we had a train to catch. We only got to the train station in time because of a kind-hearted bus driver we randomly met. We never did get to know him or whether his bus route even included the train station stop, but he treated us both like precious cargo and welcomed guests, and asked for almost no fare money. This, by the way, was no rare occurrence – people in Japan were consistently so cordial.
This time we saw many businessmen and businesswomen ride the trains – or at least people in suits. Some apparently took two hours to ride home, time they did not waste, whether it was by conversing, working, huddled over their phones or having dinner. Rarely will people’s attention be averted from their screens – this is the life of the business people.
Eventually we arrived in warm Kyoto. Somehow we find the quiet neighborhood, in which our rather noisy little inn is located. Dinner was being cooked in the kitchen, and we could hardly wait to eat. The larger city took some adjusting to – the rooms were cramped and noise and smells dominated the air, but the atmosphere seemed promising. The neighborhood was alive even at ten in the evening, but we retired early to prepare for the next day, when we would explore the former capital and its radiant culture.
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