With a small train we went down the mountain, across rivers, rice fields, vegetable gardens, fields and persimmon have appeared from time to time in the landscape, still filled with fruit. We had already seen some, left to dry, in Takayama, and persimmon are now everywhere. When we take our second train, a little more rustic, arriving in Toyama, Xim was a little scared: the two cars train has the look of those old michelines that still circulate in mountain or train of pine cones. The contrast is enormous with shinkansen that transports us to the few last twenty minutes of travel.
Kanazawa is a small town, even according to these people. For me, a city of 500,000 inhabitants is not small … In any case, our ryokan is again beautifully placed: close to the castle park, the geisha district, the covered market. A little further away is the neighborhood of the samurai.
We started to eat … khaki at the covered market. Because it’s fine to talk about khaki and to see them everywhere, but eating them is nice too. A fruit stall made khaki peeled and pre-cut, with a little toothpick. A real boon for foodies. There are a lot of fruit and vegetables. Very much. However, the prices are not quite the same as in France (where I already find that sometimes it is not given). The record is held by the grapes that we saw equivalent to 20 euros per kg.
We have been warned by the head of the ryokan where we stay that a geisha show was organized in their neighborhoods, in a teahouse. In August, therefore, Xim made reservations for front row seats. The principle is “first come, first served”, we were the first in the queue. And we heard that someone dared to moan “Oh no! They will take the best seats!”. Well yes, indeed. That’s why we went about it well in advance.
The show was (all in English) very nice: the owner of the teahouse told us how was the organization of the tea house at the time and how it is happening now. These stories, very funny and full of anecdotes, served as interludes between the services of two geisha, young enough, but playing beautifully shamisen and drum. We were also entitled to a performance sung and danced subtly. Spectators were asked to try to drum. Then there was a drinking game (of sake), very fun, with a playing rhythm and a way to catch in trap the other. You will be shown. We had great fun in the evening, full of good humor and discovery: the most popular geisha of the tea house where we were has… 80 years! Because she has an extraordinary voice and a great technique shamisen, and of course, many beautiful and good conversation topic.
The days are beautiful, in Kanazawa, although rain disrupted a bit last night and has cooled the atmosphere. We still go out in t-shirt day. But where is the autumn? We got a glimpse in the Kenrokuen park, but not much. Hardly it dyed the tips of some leaves. This summer was very hot, it is still very mild, we are a little too early. I hope that the autumn will come before we leave. The Kenrokuen garden is a beautiful arrangement of water (harboring absolutely bionic koi carp) carpet of moss and tall skillfully sculpted trees. The morning walk there was very pleasant.
Kanazawa Castle is actually a reconstructed after archaeological excavations (I think) and photographs that had been made during the Meiji era. The result is quite edifying (so to say), as well as explanations on construction techniques. This castle was built like it was at its time, without a nail, but with very sophisticated technical interlocking beams: it is a giant version of a Chinese puzzle, in fact.
We were more skeptical about the Ninja Temple, whose name promised many things. Now it is completely unrelated to the ninja. It was so named because it is full of traps and pitfalls, hidden staircases, to be ready at all in case of attack. The problem is that the tour was only in Japanese, and we were given a booklet explaining the interesting points in a little different way. But nothing about the history of the temple and above all, an answer to the question: why would a lord be in a temple, with a strong need to protect itself against attacks? In the end, the visit seemed very expensive to us.
More interesting was the house of a samurai, in the neighborhood of Samurai (it’s logic): a beautiful house, to visit when not invaded by Italians newly arrived on the bus parking lot. In this case, it was the Italians, but it could also have been Germans, Koreans or Chinese. The little indoor garden, reproduces a mountain and a river, a very calm, very soothing place. By the way, the Koi should definitely be on steroids…
Kanazawa is very welcoming for tourists: the plans are published in several languages, small newspapers highlighting certain aspects of the city are published in English, and we feel that the indigenous are very open and welcoming vis-à-vis to the hordes of temporary invaders. The main attraction are many museums, which are numerous, along the garden Kenroku, and we will visit them maybe next time.