My last post focused on staying in a traditional Japanese inn in Kanazawa, which was such a fun experience. It really made our stay in Kanazawa truly memorable. Kanazawa is a city in the Ishikawa prefecture, and can almost rival Kyoto and Tokyo in terms of culture! It is full of history as it was one of the largest cities to escape being bombed during the second World War - therefore its geisha district, old castle town and samurai district are still fully intact. However, Kanazawa's main attraction is the Kenrokuen garden - one of Japan's best landscape gardens.
We stayed in the Higashi Chaya geisha district which is a little way out of the city, but we used the city's bicycles to get around easily. The bicycles are like London's Boris bikes and you can pay for them with your IC cards (the cards are available in almost every town/city and allow you to pay for transport and even vending machines). It's not too far to walk around the city, but we loved the novelty of the bikes and it meant we could explore further afield in our short time there.
Just a small part of the Kenrokuen gardens
Top of our list of things to see in Kanazawa was the Kenrokuen gardens. The gardens are adjacent to the Kanazawa Castle Park and are in the centre of the city, so on our first full day we decided to kill two birds with one stone and explore both. I thought this would only take a few hours, but the Kenrokuen gardens are so huge that we found ourselves still wandering around the picturesque gardens for much longer than anticipated. Just look at the above photo - it doesn't look like a real garden!
The view of Kanazawa from the gardens
Apparently the garden is designed to look completely different depending on which season you visit. We visited it in spring and it was very green, with the contrasting pale pink and white cherry blossoms. I would love to see it in autumn, as I can imagine it would look just as beautiful with oranges and reds. The gardens were very serene and peaceful to walk around, despite there being hundreds of visitors. They were so vast that you could always manage to find a secluded area to relax in. There were also many tea-rooms dotted around the gardens so you could always make sure you were hydrated and well fed. There is even a street of restaurants and shops that connects the two main entrances. When we visited, we stumbled upon an outdoor food market which sold some delicious food.
I'm not sure if the street food market is a permanent feature, but it definitely should be! I had some delicious corn on the cob and Bob bought himself something that resembled a cabbage, potato and egg omelette with some sort of sauce on top. He's desperate to find out what it was because he said it was amazing! Whilst we were enjoying our tasty snacks and deciding which cartoon character lollipop to buy, we spotted some lovely ladies wearing traditional Japanese dress. I couldn't resist taking a few sneaky photos.
This post is getting very photo-heavy now, so I think I might have to split it in to two posts - these gardens are just too beautiful I can't resist sharing the photos. If you're thinking of touring Japan and want to visit some truly breathtaking, traditional Japanese gardens, you shouldn't skip Kanazawa. It was one of the highlights of my trips and there was just so much to see. I haven't even scratched the surface with this post. We also visited the castle, the samurai district, geisha district and another temple. I'll write about these in another post!Come back soon to hear about what else we got up to in Kanazawa!
Read the rest of my Japan travel posts.
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