Sunday, July 26, 2015

Kanazawa: nicotech and tourism

I had wanted to visit Kanazawa city for more than 8 years, since my Japanese teacher in Spain (Hattori-sensei) made a reference to it during a class. After the Shinkansen to Kanazawa was finished a couple of months ago I had no choice but to visit it.

What a better excuse than the celebration of the Nicotech event in Kanazawa, which gathers DIY hackers/makers to show their new crazy inventions such as a dice that always comes up 6; or a relay-controlled melodica presented by nezumi-san. Other inventors: natok (@natok), and @mayusaki3 (check the twitter hash #NT金沢).

If anything, Kanazawa is famous for its splendorous Kenrokuen (兼六園) garden, developed by the Maeda clan and one of the 3 great gardens in Japan. If you were only going to spend a few hours in Kanazawa, the Kenrokuen garden would be the thing to see. When you are there, try to find a sign with a haiku written by Bashō that says: あかあかと日は難面もあきの風 (akaaka to hi wa tsurenaku mo aki no kaze). As many other haikus, this one also talks about the change between seasons, in particular from Summer to Autumn. My personal translation would be something like: "The sun shines red, ignoring the Autumn winds". Here are a few other translations. A decomposition of this haiku can be found here (in Japanese).

Other attractions in the city are its tea houses (Chaya). There are two famous tea house districts: Higashi (east) and Nishi (west) Chaya. However, I'd suggest you to check this non-touristic tea house called Shōkōan (旧園邸・松向庵). See the access map and pictures from inside.

Kanazawa also has a famous fish market called Ōmichō, where you can buy different types of fish and seafood. There are also a few restaurants if you want to try sushi, crab, kaisen-don (a bowl of rice with different slices of raw fish) or any other delicatessen. Here is a nice guide to the food of Kanazawa in pdf. I would also recommend the restaurant "arroz" (rice in Spanish) where you can eat a delicious "cocido" as the one in the picture above.

Kanazawa has also a Samurai district called Nagamachi (長町) though it's not as big as the other tourist attractions.

What I liked the most about Kanazawa was its relaxed atmosphere; the river that crosses the city which was very close to the place I stayed in; and the fact that you can rent a bicycle to go around the city.