Hello Everyone here again. We are just arrived to Kanazawa after a very adventurous morning at Nozawa on the mountain covered with snow. Dont even need to say – the train ride was easy and simple. Especially if u have a JRP, station workers see u, grab u out from the queue and help to sort out your ticket in seconds (for me took ages to print out the right one especially that not buying just ‘reserve and collect’). Least u have to worry about is the train transportation and the Pass really does worth it.
Arriving at Kanazawa… sun was heavily shining and spring arrived before me. Actually the second best sakura-experience i had here (cherry blossom blooming). Ok, what do u need to know about Kanazawa quickly. Its massive. Seems little after Tokyo with its wild romantic vibe – but also huge compairing to Nozawa village. For me its just perfect size. Everything else in Wikipedia if u nerd enough lol. What i can tell u, small enough to walk around in 2 days (not for lazy types), exotic with its geisha and samurai stories and pretty with its castle and billions of temples and shrines. One of my favourite place i visited – plus also had a great accomodation, the hostel Pongy, close enought to the train station and also to the downtown. Hostel is tiny – so we guests were known by name and we also new each others – and ended up going and hanging out together, dining and sightseeing – which was cool cause most of us were a lonely traveller so it was a bit of a joy to share thoughts and experiences.
Oh another useful information – if u are staying in a smallish hostel – better check out the check in time – sometimes happens that the reception is not open between 12-15:00, and they keep this way. I was lucky, bit late but just found someone there to let me leave my backpack before went to explore the city. I met a girl straigh away- Dary from Switzerland who was just about to start her journey after spending some months in Kyoto living with a host family – also great experience. So she joined me and we were heading to explore first the famous Kanazawa Market – my first real culinary market experience. Not going to say ‘the best’ (because nothing can be compaired to Tokyo and Kyoto or Osaka) but it was the first real deal. I just had to try everything!!!!!
Pretty funny – i was there as a chef trying the most crazy things available (fish guts yakitori, dried scallop roe, different dried prawns, weird soup with unknown things swimming in it – actually lots of wheat protein staff etc etc.) meanwhile Dary told me she is probably the fussiest person in the world food-wise. She was my ‘safe player’ partner who at the end of the day wanted nothing else but a bowl of pasta carbonara. Lol. In the middle of Japan. Nice touch. But she was very loyal and followed me everywhere being inactive partner of trying whatever my guts called for.
footnote: keep in mind, at most of the markets u find plenty of things to try for free. Well i m not sayin u can fill up your empty stomach – but being a foodie its heaven. My favourite part was always the ‘pickles department’ – ‘TSUKEMONO’, i can easily say that Japanese cuisine developed the way of preservation in a very Master Level. Same with drying or salting – but pickling was my favourite. Everything. Vegetables and fruits and even fish. In every way and color. Dont hesitate to go thru each every pickled stuff – u find tiny plastic containers for samples with toothpicks. I die for everything cured (and fermented) with miso. Not to mention the daikon pickled with yuzu. Jesus. Great. U can try a bit of everything from cakes, sponges, soy bean stuff, teas, dried fish or bugs, seaweeds etc etc.
Leaving the market with interesting sensations in my belly – heading to the Palace and also one of the most beautiful garden in Japan : Kenroku-en with its pretty bonsai forest, interesting stone statues and billions of tourist. The entrance ticket doesnt cost a big number but im not sure cause i was just walking in and nobody stopped me really. Dary was very swiss – of course she went back to stand in the line and buy ticket. Indeed – i would not miss this garden – nomatter how long u need to wait to get a clear shot with your camera without people being everywhere.
Of course OF COURSE the CHERRY BLOSSOM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I found it – we found it! (even if it was officially plum blossom which is blooming before cherry but nobody could tell me the difference so i just keep believing lol) Amazing park, i would not be surprise if they cut the grass with a scissor. Japanese precision. God. So dont miss the garden – the Palace was ok but we didnt want to pay so i dont have much more information about it – sorry.
After walking our feet/ass off with Dary we finished our first day in this pretty pretty city with a little private tour to the geisha district organized by our amazing Host from the hostel – he gave us a little history lesson about temples, shrines, geisha and samurai myths.
Very useful – i guess not everything is uploaded into Wikipedia lol. And last but not least a proper japanese dinner with the girls from the hostel – my very first very proper sashimi (for a fortune only because of the restaurant) and a nice big bottle of sake. No regrets. Cheers.