Lesson 19: Kaze in Kanazawa

Dear readers,

Picture the scene. Outside is a cold drizzly day, fog descends down the mountains in the distant. And I am sitting, covered with a tartan blanket in front of a log fire listening to the soft sounds of acoustic guitars in the background. 

It is a scene which I would normally associate with happy memories at my nanny’s house with a feeling of extreme cosiness. 

Japanese establishments really know how to create a wonderful atmosphere. But you’ll here more of this wonderful place in my next blog. First let me bring you back to my travels from Matsumoto to Kanazawa. 

After my wonderful day in Matsumoto I unfortunately woke up with a splitting headache and a sore throat. Breakfast time was from 0630 until 0830 and no later so I forced myself to get up (I had paid for it after all).

My stomach wasn’t really ready to greet a Japanese breakfast so I went for the continental instead, which was actually quite good. 

I love Japanese bread! It’s so fluffy! 

 I checked out and headed towards the station for my train to Kanazawa. 

Unfortunately as I was still feeling quite ill I mainly slept on the train and wasn’t able to enjoy the scenery. 

This is why I chose to use the word “Kaze”  in the title. “Kaze” means “To have a cold”  It also means “Windy” and as Kanazawa is situated near the ocean it was also quite windy… Clever right?

My hotel was about 1.4 Km from the station so I decided to walk it, hoping the fresh sea air would help me. Unfortunately my bag seemed a lot heavier than usual and it was quite a struggle, but I made it.

You can tell I’m not feeling great when I wear my glasses..

The hotel “Pacific Hotel Kanazawa” is a converted business hotel with a cafe situated on the ground floor.  The cafe had a warm atmosphere and soft jazz was playing in the background. A perfect spot for any rainy afternoon.

Maybe I’ve just got my tourist glasses on but the cafés really do seem more relaxing than those back home. Maybe it’s because they have dimmed lights and people tend to whisper rather than shout… Although truth be told I haven’t visited many cafés in Switzerland and when I have, then I’ve always had my laptop with me to do my work..

I greeted the receptionist and apologised for being early (check in was at 3PM) but asked if I could leave my bag. Luckily my room had already been cleaned and I was free to go up. I enquired about my suitcase (which as you may remember I had sent from Tokyo) and she said it was waiting in my room.
Such relief!

I went up to the room and collapsed on the bed for a few seconds before telling myself to get up. As tempting as an afternoon binging Downton was, I hadn’t eaten since breakfast and as the hotel only offers drinks I had to get out and find something to eat. 

I decided to keep it relaxed on the first day and to do the historical points of interest the following day. So I headed to the city, had a bite to eat, browsed through some of the larger shops (Loft and Tokyu Hands)  –  I need to bring back a special bento box for a very special someone.

My cold did not subside so I went to the next convenience store, bought some cold medicine and walked slightly defeated and disappointed back to my hotel. I felt I hadn’t really achieved much in the day. 

When I got back I decided to sit in the cafe a while and chill, rather than be a hermit in her bedroom. I ordered the Ginger Tea (which was so delicious) and felt my body relax. 

Eventually I succumbed and went up for an evening of Downton (Seriously,  life before Netflix… What did people do?)

Geisha and Greenery

The next morning I was feeling a lot better. I allowed myself to sleep in before starting my day. 

For breakfast I went to a wonderful roasted coffee shop and then went off in search of Kanazawa castle and gardens. 

I first arrived at Gyokusen gardens where I was ushered inside by an old Japanese gentleman. He gestured for me to wait while he brought the English speaking guide. 

The guide is a member of the voluntary guide services who offer their services (free of charge) and give tours around historic sites. 

I think this is a wonderful idea and the guide enthusiastically told me about the garden. He then proceeded to teach me how to say “Thank you” in Kanazawa dialect (Anyato) which he dared me to use in the shops and restaurants (which I of course did). 

After exploring the gardens I went up to the famous  Ken Rokuen gardens.  The weather unfortunately wasn’t 100% on my side which may have contributed to my light disappointment in the place. I wasn’t wowed by the beauty but this may also be due to the stunning scenes I experienced in Matsumoto. It was also very full and loud – tour bus season has started. 

I decided that the day would recover after my tour to the historical geisha district. I love geisha and have had a fascination since I read “Memoirs of a Geisha” so I was really excited to see the old tea houses.

I wasn’t disappointed. It was the first time seeing an “old town”  in Japan and it was really impressive. The houses have been well preserved and converted to some lovely shops. 

Kanazawa is famous for it’s gold leaf and there is a shop dedicated to selling products made of it.

I also had the chance to visit an old tea house which was so interesting. Standing in the same room where Geisha used to entertain was really moving for me. Almost a little dream come true.

I headed back to the hotel to chill in the cafe and update my blog before moving towards a Sushi restaurant. The nearest one was two doors down and it was called “The Elbow Room”. 

I entered and was greeted by a very enthusiastic cook called Toshi, who owns the restaurant. 

I learnt that he used to work in LA near Beverly Hills and used to serve sushi to the stars. He moved back to Kanazawa to look after his family and set up his own shop. 

If staying in Kanazawa I really recommend this place. The sushi was delicious and the Japanese Gin Tonic was devine. It’s also foreigner friendly. 

With my stomach full I went to bed, ready for an exciting trip to Takayama. 

Thanks for reading!

Laura

Xoxoxo

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