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July 9, 2018 - Hidden Honshu: Kanazawa's Castle District
For my tenth day in Japan, I made my way to Ishikawa Prefecture to revisit Kanazawa after originally visiting in 2012. For my first post covering Kanazawa, I will be going to the main castle district which is located around 20-30 minutes walk from the main station. There are also plenty of buses from the East Exit (Bus Stop 6/7 for Loop Buses) which can also get you here quicker.
As I left Niigata Station quite early this morning I decided to get an early lunch. As I was walking past a restaurant on my way to Kanazawa Castle I noticed that they had Eel on rice for a reasonable price. It was also reasonably quiet. However, within 5 minutes the place was packed and it ended up being one of the most highly rated sushi restaurants in Kanazawa. This was not huge (but sizable) but is a steal for 1080 yen....
My first official stop for the day was Kanazawa Castle Park which is much more refined than I remember. When I visited in 2012, I just remember it being hot and a large park with a reasonably new garden (Gyokusen'en). There was almost no-one here either and it was a weekend. But now - it is much busier which has probably a lot to do with the new Hokuriku Shinkansen which opened 2 years ago.
One thing that should be noted is that the original grounds of Kanazawa Castle are much larger than most castles in Japan. They are also continuing to slowly rebuild some of the buildings (such as a new guard tower behind the Garden).
For those who are interested in viewing and learning how Japanese castles were constructed, the fortifications (reproduction) have a reasonably good explanation in Japanese and English in this regard. It costs 310 yen to enter or a combo ticket (valid over 2 days) is available for this location and Kenrokuen Garden.
Gyokusen'en Garden at the castle is also quite nice and there is even a place to have tea while you watch the world go bye.
My next stop for the day was Kenrokuen Garden which costs 310 yen to enter or 500 yen with a combo ticket to the Castle fortifications. I did not think much of the garden when I first visited but I now understand it's charms. It's not my favourite garden but it's definitely one of the best in Japan.
One large difference I have noticed about Kanazawa since 2012 is the huge increase in local and overseas tourists. I almost had this garden to myself (did not have to wait long for photos without people) when I visited last time - now there are large tour groups and the like.
Located in the Southern section of Kenrokuen is Seison-kaku Villa which was built in 1863. It costs 700 yen and photography is not allowed inside but is allowed of the gardens. I do hate it when photography is not allowed inside - but if there is nice artistic exhibits (such as inside here) then it's perfectly understandable.
My last stop for this post is a small shrine located right next to Seison-kaku Villa.
It's probably fair to say that Kanazawa is the most touristy location that I am visiting on this trip to Japan. I originally decided to revisit this town as so many people rave about the place, and it is better than I remember. My next post covers the small Nagamachi district which is found to the west of the castle district.
Kanazawa Tourist Information: http://visitkanazawa.jp