Kanazawa + Tokyo, Part 1: Day Trip Detour to Kanazawa
Back in June of this year, my long-time friend LK told me he would be visiting Japan and Hong Kong with his family, and I immediately requested a day of his time in Tokyo. School had finished for the academic year a few days prior to our meet-up, so I took the opportunity to add in a side trip to Kanazawa that I had bookmarked ages ago.
The most efficient way between the Kansai region and Kanazawa is probably the JR “Thunderbird” limited express train (between ¥7000-8000 one-way), but the cheapest is still the highway bus (I paid ¥3000 through the JR Kousoku Bus website). I was lucky to find a bus that departed in the morning; by 1 PM I had arrived at Kanazawa Station.
My main objective in Kanazawa was to visit the famous 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art. I had seen these pictures of the museum years ago, bookmarked it, and told myself “Someday!”. And finally, finally that day had come (I love it when that happens!).
In terms of museums, this one was one of the most beautiful I have ever visited. The exhibits were not that numerous, nor were the rooms themselves that big, but it was curated well, and everything “fit in” (for lack of a better word). The building itself was gorgeous (the type that gets featured in magazines), and it was a rather calming experience to just wander around and soak up the sunlight in-between exhibits (hurray for lots of windows!).
Leandro Erlich’s “The Swimming Pool”, which is part of the permanent exhibition, was the main reason I had to come to Kanazawa — and the entire experience did not disappoint. It was very thought-provoking, from the physical construction of the pool (“How did he do that?“) to the implications of being both an observer and the observed, to the fascinating distortions of the water and sunlight. I thoroughly enjoyed people-watching from both above and below the water!
The museum is only one of the famous Kanazawa landmarks though; another one that gets mentioned most often is Kenroku-en (兼六園), a garden located right next to the ruins of Kanazawa Castle and is considered one of the “Top Three Gardens” in the country. However, my time in Kanazawa was limited, and my interest in gardens is quite superficial generally, so I decided to use the admission fee to buy some soft-serve ice-cream instead!
The first kanji of Kanazawa (金沢) is the Chinese character for gold. The legend goes that a peasant was digging for potatoes in the area when he discovered gold flakes in the marsh. Later in the 17th century, the second and third Maeda lords had the business sense to channel their massive wealth into arts and handicrafts, particularly lacquer and gold-and-lacquer-work. To this day, the area is still renowned for it and produces 99% of the gold leaf in the domestic market.
Which is why it makes sense that my ice-cream (a “summer special” by a branch of Imai Kinpaku located across from the garden), has a thin sheet of gold leaf on it.
Soon after, I boarded another highway bus and spent the rest of the night travelling to Tokyo!
Part 2 of this trip, with pictures of all the food that LK and I ate, will be posted soon!