Day 7: Kanazawa

Saturday, 12 July 2014

Continues from Day 6: Doai Station & Minakami

After yesterday's cloudy and rainy typhoon influenced day we woke up this morning to perfectly clear blue and sunny skies!

After another delicious buffet breakfast at Hotel Juraku, we checked out and then caught the shuttle bus down to Minakami Station.

As we had already purchased our unreserved tickets to Kanazawa yesterday, we instead had a look at some of the shops while we waited for our train. We didn't buy anything, though I was severely tempted by the exfoliating gel I had used last night.

Ready to eat seafood for sale at the Omicho Markets
The first leg of our journey was a quick half an hour trip to Echigo-Yuzawa where we changed to a Limited Express Hokuetsu train that took three hours to travel down the west coast of Japan to Kanazawa.

Along the way we could see the ocean, and as we neared our destination we could see all the way out to the Noto Peninsula, which we had planned for a day trip tomorrow.

After arriving we checked into our hotel, the Dormy Inn, and left our bags with reception.

Next we got some snacks from a convenience store and walked down to the Omicho Markets. It was quite hot and sunny outside and it was during this walk (and others today) that we unfortunately got our first sunburns.

The markets were quite interesting with hundreds of stores selling all manner of seafood, fruit and vegetables. As we were walking around we saw one of the shop owners carving up a giant Tuna.

This is where we got lunch
It's a bit gory, so I'm just going to link to the two guys cutting up the fish (the first guy got some help), and the finished slice.

Some of the stores were selling food you could eat straight away, and from one of these stores we got some seafood for lunch.

Squid for Kate and some other actual fish for myself.

I should mention that this was actually our second visit to Kanazawa, so we'd already done the fantastic gardens (Kenrokuen- one of Japan's best) as well as the 21st century museum previously.

After the markets we walked down and tried to find the Confectionery museum- we wandered around for ages but could not find it at all.

Eventually I asked at what now looked to be an art museum where the confections ought to have been and was told that they had moved.

They didn't move too far away though so we were able to walk down to the new location.

Eventually we found a nice/fancy air conditioned shop selling lots of Japanese sweets (wagashi) and a staircase inside that led up to a cafe and museum on the second floor. The "Kanazawa Museum of Wooden Japanese Sweet Molds" costs a few hundred yen and showcased many of the different moulds used to make Japanese lollies.

Well basically it had hundreds and hundreds of the wooden moulds used to make rakugan which is a kind of hard candy, or very maybe more like a solid cake.

They're made from rice flour and powdered sugar and are usually creatively shaped and decorated.  Some of the moulds were quite historic, they were presented very well, and there was a good video explaining the process.

After the museum we entered the cafe which overlooked a nice garden. Although the prices were a bit expensive we decided to share a sweet and green tea combo as it was a nice cool place to sit.

Kate enjoyed the treat, however I personally didn't enjoy it too much. It was very pretty though!

Plus the green tea was nice.

You can also register to participate in hands-on sweet making activities here, which I think sounds fun. We couldn't at the time as the next class wasn't for a while.

After finishing with the museum we walked down to the East Tea House District (Higashi Chaya) and wandered around the old streets.

Rather than look in the tea houses we instead checked out the Hakuza gold leaf store.

Making gold leaf by hand
Actually we had a look in quite a few different gold stores.

The first one sold lots of gold related goods including some delicious gold flavoured ice cream!

I got one of these as I was hot and a little hungry.

There was a really nice place to sit and eat the ice cream but sadly the food was the only thing inside the shop we could take photos of.

There were some gold strawberries as well, which kate bought to eat.

The next gold shop had a much more relaxed photography policy as we were allowed to take as many photos as we liked of their gold leaf coated store room!

It's actually Gold platinum leaf and it's was blended on top of earthen indigo from Okinawa, as well as the original storehouse wall.

Inside the final gold shop we visited we were able to see some artisans making gold leaf which was quite interesting- it looked like a very delicate procedure!

Incidentally, Kanazawa is responsible for 99% of Japan's gold leaf production, hence all the different stores.

After this area we then made our way over to Kanazawa Castle via bus however when we arrived we found it was mostly closed. 

We had a quick look around the grounds that were still open and then made our way over to Oyama Shrine, which is famous for having a shrine gate that blends Japanese and European architecture.

There was also a nice little garden we strolled around in.

It was a pretty hot and humid day today and we were quite exhausted, so we should have caught a bus back to our hotel but instead we walked and ended up arriving back completely exhausted.

Kate ended up having come convenience store food for dinner, however I got some pancakes and a really nice drink from some sort of Hawaiian themed shop across the road from our hotel.

Kate also got some really delicious mochi treat from the ground floor of the same complex- it was really yummy!

At the top of the building was a nice area we could sit and have a good view of the station and surrounds.

The Dormy Inn was a really nice business hotel, with a lot of Japanese design influence. It even had an onsen on the top floor! Generally they're a bit too pricey for us, but this one wasn't too bad. 

Tomorrow we were going to rent a car and drive up to the Noto peninsula!

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