Kanazawa ruled by powerful samurai families
In contrast to our visit to Shirakawago in the mountainous region of the Gifu Prefecture, Kanazawa is the capital city of Ishikawa Prefecture, a modern city of Japan, population 462,478 people. It lies on the coast of the Sea of Japan, bordered by the Japanese Alps. The city sits between two rivers, the Sai and Asano rivers. Kanazawa is famous for its gold leaf products. Rice and gold leaf have been the main products of Kanazawa for over 400 years since the Edo Period in 16th century. The Maeda family ruled the Kaga clan in the Toyama and Ishikawa regions. The Maeda family was one of the most powerful samurai families in Japan, second only to the Tokugawa clan.
Arriving at our hotel, ANA Hotel Kanazawa around 5.30 pm, we were suitably impressed by the entrance foyer, quite spectacular, gold walls,ceilings and decor, hanging gardens,miniature waterfalls and fabulous lighting. Our room very, very nice as well (gold and silver striped bedspreads, not gold leaf!).
Railway station 1 km from City Center
Querying our guide on eating places, we felt the hotel a bit expensive for our budget, although the food looked wonderful and the restaurants so attractive. Our guide was kind enough to take us across to the plaza at the new railway station. Proved a good choice, menu’s easy to choose from with priced window displays, a good variety of restaurants and eateries. We took markers so we didn’t get lost! Nothing like Shinjuku Station in Tokyo of course.
Motenashi Dome – East Plaza – Railway Station
We took in the “Motenashi” dome at the railway station, a glass and metal construction with 3,000 glass panes continually being cleaned by a mechanical robot. The Dome is a symbol of the railway station’s East Plaza and represents an umbrella proffered to visitors to Kanazawa. Kanazawa averages 193 rainy days per year and is one of the wettest cities for its size in the world. Rainfall highest in Autumn and Spring. This may account for the proffered umbrella. While we were there it was fine and sunny. Lucky!
The front of the dome has a huge distinctive red wooden gate representing a hand drum. I found it quite impressive. The fountain at the end of the Plaza in front of the Drum Gate, spells out the words ‘Welcome’, ‘Kanazawa’ and the ‘time of day’, consecutively in droplets every few minutes. Very clever I thought.
By the time we had eaten, explored the railway station and plaza, after a full day’s itinerary we were glad to turn in for the night, welcoming a hot shower and comfortable bed. An 8 o’clock start in the morning.
Bicycle Hire and Bus Passes at the Railway Station
Most of the main sights of Kanazawa are around the city center. One-day bus passes and bicycle hire are available at the Railway Station.
Tomorrow the Kenrokuen Gardens in the city center, one of the three most famous gardens in Japan. Later the Samurai quarters.
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