Skip to main content

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.


Popular posts from this blog

Taking a Breather

Sometimes when you're in Tokyo, as wonderful as its bustling atmosphere is, you just want to forget you're in the middle of Tokyo.

A few weeks ago I was chatting with a guy from Sweden who regularly came to Japan on business and he said that despite how much he loved Tokyo he could never live here because of the lack of green space. Tokyo has its parks, of course, like all major cities, but if you want unspoiled greenery you have to be willing to head at least forty minutes outside of the sprawling metropolis limits. In winter this desire to surround oneself with greenery might not matter as much, but now that spring is seeping into the atmosphere and the upcoming sakura season is on everyone's mind (NHK even puts out an annual "forecast" for sakura!) the neon lights and concrete jungle start to feel a little oppressive.

That's when little hideaways like the Sato Sakura Museum and Kohmeisen come in handy.

The Sato Sakura Museum is a small museum in Nakameguro…

Short Hair, Don't Care: Model Behavior

I like to think I have a wide range of accomplishments under my belt:

Accidentally over-caffeinated myself conducting ethnographic research--check
Read 3+ books in a single day--check
Never (yet) pulled an all-nighter--check
Sung at Carnegie Hall--check
Published a poem--check

But now I can add a decidedly interesting item to that list:
Been a hair model in Japan--CHECK.

It's a bit of a long story.

It all starts with coffee, actually, like many of my adventures here in Japan do. I was checking out a coffee shop in the too, too cool area of Daikanyama (no, seriously, that entire neighborhood is just Too Cool for me, I don't even know why I was there). There I met stylist Yusuke, who asked if I wanted to appear in a PR photoshoot for the opening of his salon brand's newest branch, boy Tokyo, Harajuku. They're (wisely!) making a site to appeal to foreign clientele--it's a smart move because it's really hard to find a place that has stylists who truly are comfortab…

Final Touring Excursions

Tomorrow is my last day. It felt strange to write that sentence, knowing that I've been gone six weeks, which feels like both no time at all but also forever. Even though this is my fifth time coming to Japan (and the fourth for an protracted trip), the coming-and-going is something I don't get used to. Just as I start getting over my "ugh, I just want to go home" hump and settling in, well, it actually IS time to go home.

What have I done the past few days?

Well, on Sunday my host family and I took a drive to Yamanashi prefecture (re: near Mount Fuji) to visit the Oshino Hakkai, the Eight Sacred Ponds of Oshino. According to the signage, when people used to hike up Mount Fuji for pilgrimages, they would purify themselves in the ponds before starting their journey. And having stuck my hand in an (acceptable) corner of the main pond, Wakuike, it was FREEZING. Some other ponds have specific purposes, however. One was for people who wanted a good marriage, for instance.