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Doing Kanazawa in a Day

Today was the big Kanazawa adventure, and my main shot to prove to my mother why Kanazawa is awesome (spoilers: she liked it).

Knowing that the day was supposed to be miserably hot (another spoiler: it was), we elected to hit our main outdoor activity, Kenrokuen and the grounds of the Kanazawa Castle, early in the morning. Although there's no flowers blooming in this traditional Japanese garden during the height and heat of summer, the entire complex is still a beautiful and peaceful walk. It's easy to see why Kenrokuen is deemed one of the "Three Great Gardens" of Japan.

Here my mother and I are posing with the famed stone lantern of Kenrokuen that perches on the edge of Kasumi Pond.

The most amusing part of visiting the garden, however, was a complete coincidence. In front of a statue of Yamato Takeru (a legendary Japanese prince) another tourist asked me to take his picture, which I was happy to do--it's just par for the course of traveling around. But then weirdly he wanted to take a picture with both me and my mom and also we had to pose like this:

Yeah, so, no idea who this guy is, but here we all are posing like Usain Bolt together; I made him send me this photo afterwards as proof that this, in fact, happened.

Then we wandered around the grounds of Kanazawa Castle for a bit before heading to lunch at one of my favorite coffee-shop/cafes where--to my delight!--the owners still remember me!

The second major excursion of the day was to the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art.
Here is my mom looking artsy:

The museum was as packed as I've ever seen it, and we waited a good half-hour in line to buy our tickets but fortunately the galleries did not feel terribly crowded. There were a lot of cool exhibits this time around (many of which did not allow photography), including an artist/scientist who encoded a song about the extinction of humanity into DNA in order to communicate with alien life, and a real-life replica of the glider from Studio Ghibli's film "Nausicaa and the Valley of the Wind," which can only have been a masterpiece of space engineering.

A highlight for me was this "hut," called the Light, Wind and Water Hut. It was actually located in one of the museum's several courtyards into which a shallow pool had been especially installed. The main body of the "hut" itself was simply a room that had a hole in the ground through which you could see the water; a rope with pieces of dangling thread hung in the doorway so you could see the wind; and plenty of sunlight. But the wood was amazingly fragrant, and the entire hut reminded me of Japan's holiest Shinto shrine, Ise, which is torn apart and rebuilt every 20 years--HERE is what it looks like. 

Other highlights included an exhibit called "The End of Civilization" by Jurgen Lehl, an artist and environmentalist who collected plastic garbage off beaches in Japan and created fantastic illuminated artworks out of the refuse. I thought they looked like surreal, glowing jellyfish.

Later in the afternoon, after a well-deserved ice cream break, I somehow convinced my mom to go to a hedgehog cafe with me, which is a lot like the cat cafe I went to for "research" last summer.

Literally holding the hedgehog was a magical experience. We fed them bugs. They made little sneezing noises and spun in lots of circles in our hands.

Also they're just so dang cute!

SQUEE. My life is complete.

Here's one of Kanazawa's two rivers at sunset, just for something calming to wrap up this post before my mom and I head back to the bustle of Tokyo tomorrow afternoon.


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