When we first decided to stay in Kanazawa (金沢市), Ishikawa (石川県), we did so because it was a good central location for other places we wanted to visit - like Tojinbo Cliffs and Shirakawa-go. We had no idea how much there is to do in Kanazawa!
After arriving from Kyoto, our first night there was spent looking around the area near the station and our apartment (we found an Airbnb REALLY close to the station, like less than 5 minutes away, walking). We took a bus towards Kanazawa Castle and Kenrokuen (兼六園) even though it was already dark, because we had previously seen photos of illuminated trees and were pretty sure it was at Kenrokuen.
It was too dark to see the castle very well and Kenrokuen was closed for the day so we decided to go back the next day, but we did stumble across Gyokesen'inmaru Garden, which does an illumination show with accompanying music. There are two different illumination displays, which lasts for 7 minutes total.
From Gyokusen'inmaru, we walked to to Korinbo, Kanazawa's shopping area, in search of dinner. We didn't actually eat there, but took a bus back to the station and ate at one of the restaurants in the Forus Shopping Mall, located right next to the station. We ate pasta and this really noms waffle dessert.
The next day, it was Christmas! The first thing we did was go to Kenrokuen.
"Kenrokuen" (兼六園) means "Garden of the Six Sublimities," referring to the six attributes that make up a perfect garden: spaciousness, tranquility, artifice, antiquity, abundant water and broad views. Kenrokuen is regarded as one of Japan's three most beautiful gardens, and it most definitely is beautiful! The garden is huuuuge, and it's all so green and lush. There really is a tranquil feel to the entire thing. My favorite part was Kasumigaike Pond, the garden's biggest pond. The water is perfectly still, which allowed an amazing reflection of the beautiful day it was. I've never seen such a perfect water reflection, it was almost as if the pond was just a big mirror!
After Kenrokuen, we decided not to go to the castle again, but instead, go to Higashi Chaya Gai/Machi (東茶屋街/東茶屋町 Higashi Chaya District/Street), which is Kanazawa's "old town" filled traditional teahouses, cafes, and shops. We strolled through the area, browsed the many souvenir shops, and stuck around until it got dark to try to get a good photo.
We found a cute ice cream shop that sold interesting ice cream sandwiches. I think the outside was made of black sesame and we chose matcha ice cream. Noms!
After Higashi Chaya District, we walked to Korinbo for dinner. YES, WE WALKED. It was over a half an hour walk, but with the right company, that feels like nothing. :)
The night before, we looked up yakiniku restaurants with all-you-can-eat and all-you-can-drink menus to celebrate our first Christmas together. Yeah, we wanted to get drunk on Christmas and yakiniku is always noms. We went to Kouren, where they have 3 price options for both the food and drink menus, with naturally, different items on each.
We got the cheapest option for food, which was ¥1,980 per person and the middle option for drinks, which I think was about ¥2,500 per person. And I think there was a 2-hour time limit on both menus. The cheapest option for drinks only offered Asahi Clear for beer, like who the fuck drinks that?! LOL definitely not us. The cheapest option for food was still really good! We had tons of pork belly and kalbi, and Justin tried pig tongue for the first time! I don't think he was a huge fan. The menu also had various types of salad and side dishes, vegetables to grill, and dessert, so it was definitely worth what we paid. And we drank tons of beer so that was no doubt worth it. Pitchers on pitchers on pitchers of beer! It was a great Christmas. :)
Regular Hours: 7:00 to 18:00 (March to October 15) 8:00 to 17:00 (October 16 to February)
Early Admission Hours: From 5:00 (April to August from 4:00, November to February from 6:00) Early admission visitors must exit the garden before the start of regular hours
Admission Fee: ¥310 (free during early admission hours)
Access By Bus:
From Kanazawa Station:
Kanazawa Loop Bus: Stops LL9 and RL8, about 20 minutes, ¥200 Kenrokuen Shuttle Bus: Stop S8, about 20 minutes, ¥200 (¥100 on weekends/holidays) Hokutetsu Bus (East Exit, bus stop 3): Kenrokuen-shita stop, about 15 minutes, ¥200
JR Bus (East Exit, bus stop 4): Kenrokuen-shita stop, about 15 minutes, JR PASS
Official English Website: http://www.pref.ishikawa.jp/siro-niwa/kenrokuen/e/
Kanazawa Tourist Info site: http://www.kanazawa-tourism.com/eng/guide/guide1_1.php
Japan Guide: http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e4200.html
Gyokusen'inmaru Garden Details:
Only open on Fridays, Saturdays, and days before public holidays (We got lucky!)
Hours: Sunset - 21:00
Admission Fee: Free
Access By Bus: Same as Kenrokuen (see above)
Official English Website: http://www.pref.ishikawa.jp/siro-niwa/kanazawajou/e/night/index.html
Higashi Chaya District Details:
Access By Bus:
From Kanazawa Station:
Kanazawa Loop Bus: Hashibacho bus stop (number RL5), about 10 minutes, ¥200, and about a 5-minute walk
Japan Guide: http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e4206.html
If you're looking for a place to stay in Kanazawa, check out Airbnb and get ¥4,508 (or the equivalent in your country's currency) credit when you use my referral code: www.airbnb.com/c/lianao5
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