We came off the Japanese Alps into Kanazawa. The scenery during one of the drives was breathtaking. I guess being in places like these gives one inspiration. Kenroukuen Gardens must be the result of that.
The Gardens was constructed based on a set of 6 principles, hence the ‘roku’ in its name: spaciousness, seclusion, art, antiquity, panoramas and water courses. The thing I am amazed by in Japanese landscaping is their ability to blend trees and nondescript rocks together to achieve the zen-type serenity they are so well-known for. Everything is well-maintained too, including their impeccably clean washrooms. The visit was worth every cent of the 310 yen entry fee and more.
What would jump out right at you in Kanazawa if you are a foodie is the dish, Kaisen-don (a wide variety of sashimi on rice with gold flakes). Available in many of the restaurants in the Omicho Market, prices range from ~1800-2700 yen. We didn’t have that because fresh sashimi can also be had in the morning at the stalls; Freshly shucked oysters, sweet shrimp with roe, sea urchins and whatever the catch is. You can also get sashimi from the cold section in the supermarkets – nicely cut and placed in a pretty takeout container with wasabi and soy sauce at a third of the price in the restaurants.
Reserve ahead if going to the Ninja Temple aka Myouryuji – good for people who like mazes and who are looking for brilliant ideas on making good use of odd spaces. How the Maeda Lord of the Kaga Clan made 23 small rooms and 29 narrow staircases fit in a 2-storey temple was beyond most in their time. But it is only two stories tall looking from the outside. This temple is full of deceptions and surprises- trapdoors, secret passageways, pitfalls, shoji (paper) doors from where one could stab enemy feet. There is even a room for Hara-Kiri. Within the temple, there are 4 stories and 7 layers – swirly and narrow staircases everywhere you look. You can imagine that every available albeit odd space created in the stairwell is put to good use. Quite amazing.
No photography is allowed so I could not get pictures but this article sums it up pretty well: http://en.rocketnews24.com/2014/06/23/the-twists-turns-and-trapdoors-of-kanazawas-incredible-ninja-temple/
Entry fee is 1000 yen and parking is in one of the temples 50m away. It is a must-see!