Schauwecker's Japan Travel Blog
by Stefan Schauwecker, webmaster of japan-guide.com

This blog is intended to record some of my travel activities in Japan.

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2007/04/12 - Kanazawa's wealth of attractions

Almost four years after my last visit, I headed to Kanazawa with the purpose of collecting new material for the improvement of the Kanazawa sightseeing guide at japan-guide.com.

The city's wealth of attractions captured me again. Kanazawa offers all what foreign tourists expect from Japan: shrines, temples, gardens, a castle, samurai and geisha districts and outstanding food, arts and crafts. I am wondering why the city still remains somewhat off the beaten path of foreign tourists.

Successfully timed my visit to Kenrokuen to coincide with the cherry blossoms

Kanazawa is home to Kenrokuen, one of Japan's "three most beautiful gardens". I agree. In fact, I have not yet visited a traditional Japanese landscape garden, which surpasses Kenrokuen's beauty. And this despite the fact that the garden can get crowded at times.

Avoid the peak times of tour groups with loudspeakers by visiting early in the morning, during lunch hour or late in the afternoon. The garden's long standing popularity has also resulted in a pleasant street of restaurants and stores, catering to tourists, just outside the entrance gate.

Touristy street next to Kenrokuen's entrance

Ishikawa Gate, just a few steps from Kenrokuen, is most of what remains of the original Kanazawa Castle today. The rest was lost in fires and due to the Meiji government's destructive dislike for symbols of Japan's feudal past.

Today, many citizens of Kanazawa want their castle back. As a result, the city has decided to slowly rebuild several parts of the castle one after the other. From 1997 to 2001, parts of the second citadel were reconstructed, and works on another gate, not far from Ishikawa Gate, are currently underway.

While many Japanese castles of today are concrete reconstructions to keep costs down, Kanazawa Castle is being rebuilt using only traditional construction techniques and materials. A visit to the interior of the recently reconstructed turrets and warehouse is highly recommended.

Recently reconstructed turret and storehouse of Kanazawa Castle

Some former residences of the feudal lord's retainers can be visited in Kanazawa's Nagamachi. The former samurai district has been nicely preserved (and restored) with earthen walls and wooden entrance gates.

Nagamachi Former Samurai District

Kanazawa's three geisha districts, Higashi-Chayagai (Eastern Teahouse Town), Nishi-Chayagai (Western Teahouse Town) and Kazuemachi (Kazue Town), have also survived the post-feudal years in good shape. Among the three, Higashi-Chayagai is the largest and most beautiful.

Shima and Kaikaro are two old houses in the Higashi Chayagai, which used to host geisha performances, and are now open for tourists to explore. Other buildings along the beautifully preserved street and its narrow side streets house atmospheric cafes and interesting shops.

Higashi-Chayagai

Narrow side street of the Higashi-Chayagai

One of the highlights of our visit to Kanazawa was Myoryuji, a temple also popularly known as "Ninja Temple" due to its range of trick doors, hidden stairways, pitfalls and other built-in gadgets to keep possible intruders at bay. Note however, that the temple is completely unrelated to ninja.

Myoryuji can only be visited on tours. Tours are held in Japanese, but a file with explanations in English is available. Advance reservations are required.

Myoryuji

Most of my trips are accompanied by at least one major failure or problem. This time, my visit to the recently opened 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, towards which I had high expectations, ended in personal disappointment and a hole in my research for the Kanazawa sightseeing guide.

While I checked the museum's opening hours and closing days in advance, it slipped my attention that a special exhibition was being held during our stay in Kanazawa, and the museum's regular collection was not on display. The building's intriguing architecture made the visit worthwhile, nevertheless.

21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art

Our trip to Kanazawa ended on a high note with a wonderful seafood donburi lunch at Omicho Market. My bowl of rice was topped by delicacies such as sea urchin (uni), salmon eggs (ikura), fatty tuna (otoro), oyster (kaki), crab (kani) and even some sprinkles of gold leaf, a Kanazawa specialty.

Lunch at Omicho Market

We accessed Kanazawa by Joetsu Shinkansen and Hakutaka limited express via Echigo-Yuzawa. The journey along the Sea of Japan coast with the stormy sea on one side of the train and the towering peaks of the Japanese Alps on the other side, was quite spectacular, although we incurred a delay of over an hour due to strong winds.

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List of Posts:

2018/12/31 - Travel Highlights 2018
2018/10/15 - Toyosu Market Opens to the Public
2018/09/05 - New Skyscraper opens in Shibuya

2017/12/31 - Travel Highlights 2017

2016/12/31 - Travel Highlights 2016
2016/11/10 - Crossing Kyushu half a year after the Kumamoto Earthquake
2016/04/09 - Busta Shinjuku - a new bus terminal opened on top of Shinjuku Station

2015/12/31 - Travel Highlights 2015
2015/09/17 - Autumn Color Report: Daisetsuzan
2015/09/16 - Autumn Color Report: Daisetsuzan
2015/04/10 - Cherry Blossom Report: Takada
2015/04/01 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kumagaya
2015/02/07 - Trial Run to Kanazawa

2014/12/31 - Travel Highlights 2014
2014/11/14 - Autumn Color Report: Himeji
2014/11/07 - Autumn Color Report: Kyoto
2014/11/06 - Autumn Color Report: Yamadera
2014/10/24 - Autumn Color Report: Mount Fuji
2014/10/15 - Autumn Color Report: Kurikoma
2014/09/19 - Autumn Color Report: Tokachidake
2014/09/18 - Autumn Color Report: Kurodake
2014/09/17 - Autumn Color Report: Asahidake
2014/04/03 - Cherry Blossom Report: Uji

2013/12/31 - Travel Highlights 2013
2013/11/13 - Autumn Color Report: Kyoto
2013/11/12 - Autumn Color Report: Tokyo
2013/10/08 - Autumn Color Report: Nikko
2013/09/21 - Autumn Color Report: Kurodake
2013/09/20 - Autumn Color Report: Asahidake
2013/07/13 - Countdown to the Gion Matsuri
2013/07/10 - Nagoya Castle gets back its palace
2013/07/09 - Ise Shrine Rebuilding
2013/04/25 - New bath house opens in Kusatsu Onsen
2013/04/04 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kyoto
2013/04/03 - Cherry Blossom Report: Takamatsu
2013/04/02 - Cherry Blossom Report: Hiroshima
2013/04/01 - Cherry Blossom Report: Tokyo
2013/03/27 - Cherry Blossom Report: Fukuoka
2013/03/26 - Cherry Blossom Report: Okayama
2013/03/17 - Cherry Blossom Report: Tokyo
2013/02/28 - Kawazu Cherry Blossom Festival
2013/01/27 - Winter Visit to Shirakawago

2012/12/31 - Travel Highlights 2012
2012/12/01 - Autumn Color Report: Tokyo
2012/11/29 - Autumn Color Report: Himeji
2012/11/21 - Autumn Color Report: Tokyo
2012/11/14 - Autumn Color Report: Hakone
2012/11/08 - Autumn Color Report: Koyasan
2012/11/07 - Autumn Color Report: Kyoto
2012/10/18 - Autumn Color Report: Noboribetsu
2012/10/18 - Autumn Color Report: Sounkyo
2012/10/17 - Autumn Color Report: Shiretoko
2012/10/09 - Tokyo Station Renovation
2012/10/04 - Autumn Color Report: Alpine Route
2012/10/03 - Grapes and Wines at Katsunuma
2012/09/21 - Autumn Color Report: Asahidake
2012/09/20 - Autumn Color Report: Kurodake
2012/09/18 - Autumn Color Report: Asahidake
2012/09/12 - Another Trip to Iwaki
2012/05/11 - Sneak Peek from Tokyo Skytree
2012/05/09 - Rainy visit to the Ise Shrines
2012/04/28 - Cherry Blossom Report: Aizu
2012/04/28 - Cherry Blossom Report: Takizakura
2012/04/17 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kyoto
2012/04/16 - Cherry Blossom Report: Yoshino
2012/04/15 - Cherry Blossom Report: Tottori
2012/04/14 - Cherry Blossom Report: Osaka
2012/04/14 - Cherry Blossom Report: Himeji
2012/04/06 - Cherry Blossom Report: Nagoya
2012/04/01 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kyoto
2012/03/31 - Cherry Blossom Report: Tokyo
2012/03/15 - Tokyo Plum Blossom Report
2012/03/15 - Cherry Blossom Report: Tokyo
2012/02/28 - Kumano half a year after Typhoon #12

2011/12/31 - Travel Highlights 2011
2011/12/13 - Autumn Color Report: Tokyo
2011/12/02 - Autumn Color Report: Kyoto
2011/12/01 - Autumn Color Report: Nara
2011/11/30 - Autumn Color Report: Kyoto
2011/11/27 - Autumn Color Report: Kyoto
2011/11/23 - Autumn Color Report: Kanazawa
2011/11/22 - Autumn Color Report: Kyoto
2011/11/21 - Autumn Color Report: Miyajima
2011/11/20 - Autumn Color Report: Kyoto
2011/11/18 - Autumn Color Report: Kyoto
2011/11/13 - Autumn Color Report: Kyoto
2011/11/09 - Autumn Color Report: Sakurayama
2011/11/08 - Autumn Color Report: Fujigoko
2011/11/02 - Autumn Color Report: Mitakesan
2011/10/27 - Autumn Color Report: Towadako
2011/10/26 - Autumn Color Report: Hakkodasan
2011/10/21 - Autumn Color Report: Fukushima
2011/10/20 - Autumn Color Report: Zao
2011/10/19 - Autumn Color Report: Naruko
2011/10/13 - Tokyo Fall Colors?
2011/10/12 - Autumn Color Report: Nikko
2011/10/12 - Autumn Color Report: Oze
2011/10/04 - Visit to the Sunshine Aquarium
2011/10/03 - Autumn Color Report: Nikko
2011/09/27 - Two mountains in central Japan
2011/09/15 - Furano in September
2011/09/14 - Autumn Color Report: Ginsendai
2011/09/13 - Autumn Color Report: Mount Asahidake
2011/09/12 - Failed Visit to the Sunshine Aquarium
2011/07/15 - Hakata Gion Yamakasa Report Trip
2011/06/29 - Eastern Hokkaido Report Trip
2011/06/01 - Ogasawara Report Trip
2011/05/18 - Kagoshima Report Trip
2011/04/29 - After the Earthquake: A trip to Hiraizumi
2011/04/22 - Cherry Blossom Report: Aizu
2011/04/21 - After the Earthquake: A trip to Matsushima
2011/04/21 - Cherry Blossom Report: Sendai
2011/04/20 - Cherry Blossom Report: Fujigoko
2011/04/17 - After the Earthquake: A trip to Nikko
2011/04/12 - Cherry Blossom Report: Okayama
2011/04/11 - Cherry Blossom Report: Takamatsu
2011/04/10 - Cherry Blossom Report: Matsuyama
2011/04/07 - Cherry Blossom Report: Nagoya
2011/03/31 - Cherry Blossom Report: Fukuoka
2011/03/29 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kyoto
2011/03/28 - Cherry Blossom Report: Himeji
2011/03/27 - Cherry Blossom Report: Tokyo
2011/02/11 - Shiretoko Fantasia 2011
2011/02/07 - Sapporo Snow Festival 2011

2010/12/15 - Travel Highlights 2010
2010/12/09 - Autumn Color Report: Tokyo
2010/12/06 - Autumn Color Report: Kamakura
2010/12/01 - Autumn Color Report: Kyoto
2010/11/19 - Autumn Color Report: Sakurayama
2010/11/17 - Autumn Color Report: Ise
2010/11/10 - Autumn Color Report: Kyoto
2010/10/19 - Autumn Color Report: Noboribetsu
2010/10/15 - Autumn Color Report: Hachimantai
2010/10/14 - Autumn Color Report: Akita
2010/09/15 - Autumn Color Report: Mount Kurodake
2010/09/14 - Autumn Color Report: Mount Asahidake
2010/05/14 - Cherry Blossom Report: Hakodate
2010/05/13 - Cherry Blossom Report: Matsumae
2010/05/06 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kakunodate
2010/05/05 - Cherry Blossom Report: Hirosaki
2010/04/25 - Cherry Blossom Report: Takizakura
2010/04/07 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kamakura
2010/04/06 - Cherry Blossom Report: Inuyama
2010/04/05 - Cherry Blossom Report: Hikone
2010/04/04 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kyoto
2010/04/03 - Cherry Blossom Report: Miyajima
2010/04/02 - Cherry Blossom Report: Hiroshima
2010/03/30 - Cherry Blossom Report: Nagoya
2010/03/27 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kyoto
2010/03/26 - Cherry Blossom Report: Nara
2010/03/26 - Cherry Blossom Report: Himeji
2010/03/23 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kyoto
2010/02/22 - Guu Restaurant, Vancouver
2010/02/19 - Zakkushi, Vancouver
2010/02/14 - Hapa Izakaya, Vancouver
2010/02/09 - Yuji's Japanese Tapas, Vancouver
2010/02/08 - Miku Restaurant, Vancouver
2010/02/07 - Shuraku Restaurant, Vancouver

2009/12/31 - Travel Highlights 2009
2009/12/08 - Autumn Color Report: Tokyo
2009/12/02 - Autumn Color Report: Kamakura
2009/11/24 - Research in Nara Prefecture
2009/11/18 - Autumn Color Report: Tokyo
2009/11/12 - Autumn Color Report: Kyoto
2009/11/09 - Autumn Color Report: Fuji Five Lakes
2009/10/16 - Autumn Color Report: Onuma Park
2009/10/15 - Autumn Color Report: Noboribetsu Onsen
2009/10/14 - Autumn Color Report: Shikotsu-Toya National Park
2009/09/30 - Autumn Color Report: Kusatsu Onsen
2009/09/16 - Autumn Color Report: Tokachidake Onsen
2009/09/15 - Autumn Color Report: Ginsendai
2009/09/14 - Autumn Color Report: Mount Asahidake
2009/07/14 - Furano Lavender in full bloom
2009/04/16 - Cherry Blossom Report: Fuji Five Lakes
2009/04/09 - Cherry Blossom Report: Nagoya
2009/04/08 - Cherry Blossom Report: Yoshino
2009/04/07 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kyoto
2009/04/06 - Cherry Blossom Report: Osaka
2009/04/03 - Cherry Blossom Report: Yokohama
2009/03/30 - Cherry Blossom Report: Nagoya
2009/03/25 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kyoto
2009/02/27 - Rainy Izu Peninsula
2009/02/26 - Cherry Blossoms in Kawazu

2008/11/20 - Miyajima
2008/11/18 - Mino Park
2008/11/12 - Fuji Five Lakes
2008/10/28 - Shirakami Sanchi (2)
2008/10/27 - Shirakami Sanchi
2008/10/16 - Nikko
2008/10/10 - Akagiyama
2008/10/08 - Shiretoko Peninsula
2008/09/26 - Sounkyo Onsen
2008/09/25 - Daisetsu Kogen Onsen
2008/09/24 - Mount Asahidake

2007/12/08 - Arashiyama Hanatoro
2007/04/12 - Kanazawa's wealth of attractions
2007/04/04 - Sanyo Coast in Full Bloom
2007/02/28 - Niseko and the Australian invasion
2007/02/27 - Cassiopeia Night Train
2007/01/31 - Cherry Blossoms in Okinawa
2007/01/26 - Skiing in Naeba

2006/12/03 - Chichibu Festival
2006/12/02 - Tanigawa Onsen (Minakami)
2006/11/26 - Kyoto Autumn Color Report (11): Hotel Report
2006/11/25 - Kyoto Autumn Color Report (10)
2006/11/24 - Kyoto Autumn Color Report (9)
2006/11/23 - Kyoto Autumn Color Report (8)
2006/11/22 - Kyoto Autumn Color Report (7)
2006/11/21 - Kyoto Autumn Color Report (6)
2006/11/20 - Kyoto Autumn Color Report (5)
2006/11/19 - Kyoto Autumn Color Report (4)
2006/11/18 - Kyoto Autumn Color Report (3): Takao
2006/11/17 - Kyoto Autumn Color Report (2): Hieizan
2006/11/16 - Kyoto Autumn Color Report (1)
2006/11/08 - Shima Onsen
2006/10/25 - Autumn colors at Mount Tanigawa