Kanazawa City and Kaga hot springs
I hadn’t had the chance to take advantage of the Go To Travel campaign until now, but I finally did and used it to go to the city of Kanazawa and the famous hot springs in Kaga, both in Ishikawa prefecture. Here’s how it went.
The first thing we do is take the newly built Hokuriku Shinkansen from Tokyo station. Opened in 2015, it now connects the capital to Kanazawa in three hours. We’re hungry so we buy an ekiben, or train station lunch box, very popular among Shinkansen travelers. I’d recommend anyone traveling by bullet train to try an ekiben, although this one wasn’t so good, unfortunately.
Three hours later we’re in Kanazawa and we check in at our hotel, the APA hotel, a famous Japanese chain. Apparently the one we’re staying at in Kanazawa was the first one of these. You’d expect it to be a bit on the luxurious side, but it turns out the room is tiny and there’s no way to walk around it without bumping into each other. Fortunately we’re only staying one night. At least we got some APA Hotel curry with the owner’s face plastered on the cover of the box. My girlfriend tells me she’s famous, I have no idea who she is.
After checking in we go the main attraction in Kanazawa, the Higashi Chaya district. This is the city’s traditional, Edo Period style town, not too dissimilar to places like Koedo in Kawagoe. Here we walk around the streets, visit a Geisha house, and eat a golden sheet soft cream. The kanji for “kana” in “Kanazawa” means gold, so the city is famous for its edible golden sheets. It doesn’t taste like anything, but it looks nice I guess.
After sunset it starts raining hard, so we have a light early dinner and wait for the rain to stop. It doesn’t. At least we enjoyed the nice atmosphere in Higashi Chaya.
We buy an umbrella and go to Kenrokuen, one of the top three Japanese gardens. There’s usually an entrance fee, but at this time of the year it’s free to enter at night and see the illumination. Lucky us. The autumn leaves, combined with this illumination, is beautiful. Since it’s raining quite hard, it’s not too crowded.
The next day we visit Kanazawa Castle, a pretty unique Japanese castle. The stone walls are really curved and tall, and the dark tiles contrast with the pure white of the castle walls. We think about paying to go inside, but we know most Japanese castles tend to be empty. We check some pictures of the interior online, instead. We’re so smart. In the park surrounding the castle we enjoy some matcha tea and traditional Japanese sweets while enjoying the view of the garden and listening to the rain.
We then move on to the next stop in our trip, Kaga. I’m going to be honest, we didn’t do much here, other than enjoy our luxurious ryokan (traditional Japanese hotel). The room is really spacious and made of wood and tatami, and we have a great view of a lake with a private outdoor hot spring. The hot spring is a bit unique in that the water is salty, so it’s like bathing in hot sea water.
As is usual with ryokan, dinner and breakfast are very traditionally Japanese, and very early. We have a multiple course dinner, with the highlight being the crab, the sashimi, and the Kaga bocha, a local tea.
After all the eating, sleeping and bathing, we go back to Kanazawa for our last day. We go back to Higashi Chaya and this time we eat takoyaki with a golden sheet. Everything’s better with a golden sheet.
We then go for a walk around the Nagamachi Samurai district, where we see some samurai houses. Some of them are museums of sorts, and inside we can see how the samurai and their servants used to live. In this area we also see a “Moron Cafe” and a “Pizza Buddha Gorilla” restaurant. I guess they love their offensive names in Kanazawa. Here we also find Oyama shrine, a weirdly Western looking shrine with romanic arches. I’ve ever seen anything like this in Japan.
Lastly, we go to Nishi Chaya, the smaller old town in the city. Everything is closed by now, but the atmosphere still impressed and it helps that it’s really quiet.
We could only book a late train back home, so we’re more than ready to get to the Shinkansen. We buy some food for dinner and get on the train. By the time we arrive home it’s already midnight, and we have to work the next day, but the trip was well worth it.
Hi, I’m Sergio.
I’m from Spain, lived in the UK for seven years and came to Japan in 2012.
I majored in journalism in London and have been teaching English in Tokyo.
I like traveling, cycling, photography, movies, and spending time with friends.
I wrote articles about life in Japan as a foreigner and anything that I might find interesting.
My email is ” firstname.lastname@example.org “, by all means contact me about anything!
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