On our last morning in Kyoto I packed quickly and visited another temple… Kiyomizudera-dera… the main hall was unfortunately under repair but you can still visit inside and get an idea of how amazing it is, all built out of dark wood, sitting majestically on the side of the hill on the eastern side of the city – the dragon is the creature protecting the town on the east. Each point has an animal… the turtle is North… can’t remember the other ones, sorry – and the image of the dragon is quite prominent here:

It’s a fair hike in the August humidity… not the cleverest idea in my travelling clothes… live and learn…

prayers attached to bells hang from the ceiling at the entrance of the hall, playing in the wind, quite mesmerizing

I hadn’t heard of Kanazawa before looking into a possible itinerary. It was slightly out of the international tourist trails till a few years ago when a new bullet train line was opened that connected to Tokyo in a mere three hours. Kanazawa sits quietly on the coast of the sea of Japan and has a long history of being the second most powerful region of the country. We were driven there as something had happened to the train we were supposed to take, and this gave us the opportunity to sample Japanese motorway food…

the pork katsu was great
the ramen were ok
… we chickened out of the cheese tea

We arrived late afternoon and went straight to our ryokan, this time a minimalist gem with a moss garden instead of an ancient villa…

Talking of gardens, the first thing we did the morning after was visiting the Kenruoken gardens… amazing… shame it rained when were there…

It must be an incredible sights when the azaleas are in bloom, there are thousands of bushes!

We then crossed the road to walk through the Imperial palace that it’s been slowly rebuilt in the exact way it was, not just in style, but in materials and size… an incredible feat.

It’s not all old stuff in Kanazawa… we jumped a few centuries and visited a seriously cool contemporary art museum, 21st century Museum of Contemporary Art to be precise. Very crowded, but very cool.

the swimming pool, by Leandro Earlich

At this point I had to seriously engage all my diplomatic skills to convince the boys that as much as the call of the onsen was strong for me too, we had to go on… it was our last sightseeing day… we had to finish, no matter how ‘japanned-out’ we felt. They did, I’d still be there….

So quickly, because you’re probably all Japanned-Out too…

Gorgeous Samurai house and garden:

how gorgeous are these stairs?

then a quick drive across town to the old medieval geisha district which is stupendous and I’m really sad we ran out of time to walk around it properly… but we did meet a genuine real-life geisha house owner which was super interesting

this is us with Lady Baba… who despite the playful name was not a lady to be trifled with…

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