October 1, 2017
Kanazawa, a mid-sized coastal city of just under a half a million, is a pleasant place to take in a few sights, rest up and eat some great fish.
You can easily hit all the main sights in town on a self-guided walking tour. We started with the mud walls of Nagamachi, but unless you are just dying to see adobe type walls dating from the Edo period this is a pretty forgettable stop.
The walls are not exactly at the spot marked Nagamachi on the LP and Google maps, but rather along the canal that runs south from Nagamachi to Casa Samurai Nomura.
Next we headed towards Hyakumangoku-dori, a main thoroughfare, via Kiguramachi, the street of many restaurants, looking for breakfast. Nothing was open on Kiguramachi but we did find the German Bakery on Hyakumangodu-dori.
While their breads and pastry are not very German they have a decent selection to suit most tastes, good coffee and they open at 7:30. Yay!
The Kenroku-en, supposedly one of the best gardens in Japan, is a highlight of Kanazawa and was already hopping at 9 in the morning.
The pretty garden with ponds and streams running through its acreage is most notable for its amazing trees.
A sort of nursing home for huge, tortured trees that can no longer stand on their own and need a battery of support beams to keep their overburdened boughs from crashing to the ground.
Tour groups mill about key focal points, but even on a busy Sunday morning you can find a little solitude.
The sun was already too high in the sky for good photos on a sunny day, but worth a visit nonetheless.
From the garden we headed to the castle grounds. We did not pay the admission for the castle, having already seen a couple. For me the castle interiors are pretty much the same – steep stairs and beautiful empty wood floors with the occasional artifact or two.
The castle grounds, however, are impressive for their size. It’s a free and a pleasant way to cross the area.
Hagashi-Chaya District, the Geisha Tea House District, dates back to the early 1900s. Although busy at 11AM on a Sunday morning the narrow streets full of traditional buildings are lovely as the streets are narrower with more variation in wood color than in Takayama.
(With high hopes I returned to the Hagashi Chaya District the following morning at around 7:00. At this hour there were only locals on the streets getting ready for the new day.
However, on a gray morning with a few sprinkles in the air the streets weren’t as interesting – all boarded up. Not much greenery or other interests to give life to the photos.)
Being almost lunch time, we headed to the Omi-cho Market for some more fresh fish. Hungry, we stopped in one of the sushi places before touring the market.
We made the mistake of trying to get a table before ordering our sushi meal from the vending machine and were sent back outside. Once we ordered our sushi, we got a ticket and were assigned a table. We were first served a delicious miso fish soup .
The sushi order followed after a short wait.
The market itself is more of a retail tourist market than the wholesale variety you find at the famed Tokyo Tsukiji market.
At around noon on a Sunday it had a vibrant atmosphere with lots to see and taste, including individual fresh shrimp, sea urchin and giant oysters.