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T – 4 Days and Counting!

Written by Jeff Drake
11 · 01 · 18

We’re getting down to the finer details for our upcoming trip to Japan – making sure our camera SD cards are empty and the camera lenses are clean; charging all our electronic devices; making sure we have the proper cables; printing out important documents (to go with both of our electronic copies); getting cash, etc. You probably follow a similar drill every time you travel outside the country. It’s certainly not rocket science and for us, by now, it’s by the numbers.

I also like to change the time/date on our cameras. I’ve been burned before when I didn’t do this. The wrong time and dates on photos can make the post-trip effort of matching photos to our itinerary rather complicated in those cases where we can’t necessarily remember where the hell we took that picture. If that sounds strange, just remember that we take “a lot” of photos!

Kowabunga, uh, Kabamba, er, Kawanazoo, oh hell, make that just plain Kanazawa!

Kanazawa is where we will find ourselves after our bullet train ride from Hakone. Kanazawa is a city found within the Ishikawa Prefecture. (A prefecture, in case you didn’t know, is similar to a county in the US. There are differences, but generally, this is a fair comparison.) Japan has 47 prefectures and each has its own elected governor, legislature and bureaucracy. Each prefecture is then divided into cities, towns and villages. Japan is currently working on merging and reducing the number of prefectures in the hopes of reducing administrative costs. The prefectures are shown in the map below:


The city of Kanazawa has a population of 466,000 people with a population density of 990 people per kilometer. Here is where it fits into the map of prefectures:

Kanazawa is known for its handicrafts, especially beautiful ceramics known as Kutani-ware. A couple examples are below:







Hmm. I’m thinking Kanazawa might be a place to get a couple of souvenirs!

We will get a guided city tour of Kanazawa and visit the Kenrokuen Garden. This garden is identified as one of Japan’s “three most beautiful landscape gardens”. The other gardens are Mito’s Kairakuen garden and Okayama’s Korakuen garden. We won’t see these two other gardens. Parts of the city of Kanazawa, by the way, are within the Hakusan National Park. Oh goody – this park will have Macaque monkeys! I love these guys!

We’ll also get a Q&A session with a Fukushima evacuee. You remember the nuclear disaster Japan had (and is still having)? Yeah, that place. OAT is good about allowing tours to explore all sides of a culture. In this case, we’ll get a chance to inquire about what the hell happened and what they are doing about it. It’s not unusual in these sessions to get answers some people won’t like.

We will also get to visit a Buddhist temple and talk to a temple master. I studied comparative religions in college, focusing on the different sects of Buddhism. I will have to brush up on the differences between Buddhism, Shintoism and Zen Buddhism. This will be interesting!

It’s market time! Yep, we’re going to visit a famous produce market in Kanazawa! Lisa and I enjoy these places! In this case, we’ll be cruising the Omicho Market which has been Japan’s largest fresh food market since the Edo Period (1603-1868). It consists of covered streets lined with a network of over 200 shops and stalls. We are so looking forward to trying the street food! Yum!

Our third and last day in Kanazawa is a free day. Yippee! We have an optional tour available this day – a trip to the mountain village of Gokoyama. This is a UNESCO World Heritage site. This place will be great for some photos. The village is known for its specialized houses with steep pitched thatch roofs (to keep the snow off in the winter). These houses were built without the use of nails and are between 100-400 years old!

After our free day we are on the road again, this time a train ride will take us to beautiful Kyoto!

More on Kyoto in the next post.

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Jeff Drake

Retired IT consultant, world-traveler, hobby photographer, and philosopher.
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