Monday, May 24, 2010
A new view of Kanazawa
Our final stop on the Great Golden Week Road Trip was Kanazawa. The drive was long enough that we opted for the toll road expressway, but in the end we probably shouldn't have bothered. The road narrowed from two lanes to one then went back to two then went back to one again several times, causing a huge traffic jam. We were stuck in stop and go traffic for over two hours. That sort of jam isn't fun in the best of times, but with four people in a small, hot car it's even worse!
Once we made it past the jam things opened up and we made great time barreling south along the Japan Sea coast. In Kanazawa, it was roundly agreed that a trip to my favorite yakitori restaurant, and a few of the one liter Asahi draft beers you can get there, would be the perfect thing to wash away the unpleasant car trip. It was interesting walking around the downtown area that night, as it was so much more lively and 'happening' than downtown Maebashi. The economic contrast between the two cities was made starkly, depressingly clear.
The next day I played tour guide, and took my friends on a walking tour of all the great spots in the city. The displays outside the 21st Century Art Museum were a hit, especially the new 'color wheel' that they put out on the front lawn. As always Kenrokuen was the must see stop, and as always it was gorgeous. Though like anywhere else, it was jammed with sightseers and large tour groups.
Across from the garden is Kanazawa Castle. Much of the castle is a reconstruction, including a brand new gate that was recently opened. The only original structure that remains is the Ishikawa-mon entrance that faces the garden. Much to my surprise the gate was open to the public, and we could go inside for a look around, something I had never had the chance to do before.
While we didn't really have enough time to really see all that Kanazawa has to offer, everybody enjoyed their trip through 'little Kyoto.' I of course can't get enough of that city, and all the friends I still have there.