Kenrokuen

Japanese people are very close to nature and have a very tight relationship with their environment. Most of the bank holidays are related to nature (day of the mountain, day of the sea, day of the nature etc)

Among other items, they love gardens and there are the 3 most beautiful gardens of Japan to be visited once in a lifetime. I had this opportunity while in Kanazawa where is the Kenrokuen located.

I was not sure I would connect with this place as I was afraid of the crowd, potential queues, etc. I went there in the morning and really felt it was a beautiful place. Entrance fee is only Y100.- to help maintain the place. Although there were many people, it never felt crowded and, as always in Japan, people were so respectful that you could still enjoy the silence and peace of the place. a must if you are in the region!!

 

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There was a photo shooting as we were wandering there, it was so cute,

 

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One funny thing, Kanazawa is known to be the golden city, people like gold here and many things are made of gold (even ice creams). I was therefore amused to see that the mushrooms look golden over here!

Kanazawa

Kanazawa is located 2h40 north west of Tokyo with the shinkansen. Many people call it the “small Kyoto” although locals would challenge this. they tell you that Kyoto is about Emperors while Kanazawa is about Samourai.

This city is not hitted as hard by earthquakes and has suffered as much from the wars therefore you can still find a lot of wooden houses and traditional constructions, along with shrines and monuments, plenty of tiny streets. It is very touristic. I found a lot of Europeans (French and Italian) and Americans (Canada and US) and hardly any Chinese or Koreans which is unusual these days in Japan.

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The city is known for the glass, they cut glass in a beautiful way, it became also a trademark as some corporations produce glass for the industry with very tech-saavy methods and the city has become a hot spot for automotive and aviation industries who come here for some of their tools.

Kanazawa is also known as the city of gold. you can even buy golden ice creams!! as you can see below, ice cream with a thin golden sheet over it, very funny (but tasteless)

Shinkansen started operating to Kanazawa a couple of years ago, and, since, it made a huge difference, the number of visitors had a boom and hotels are popping up like mushrooms. It had a massive and positive economical impact although the city feels a bit packed at times because of this.

Smart features

Japan has created a bottle for the summer – there is a spot for an ice cube, you open the bottle, insert the cube, close again and enjoy! the ice cube will remain stuck in that space while you enjoy a fresh drink

 

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Isetan, Mitsukoshi and the rest

My guilty pleasure? Spending a couple of hours at one of the large pricey department stores, they have a grocery section on the basement with beautiful products. But, in my case, what I especially like about it, is that you can try out many products which helps identifying what my next buy will be AND all products are labelled in Japanese and English so I take photos!!! Here is a view of the amazing section for raw fish, so many diferent Tuna! did you know that the clearer in color, the better it tastes?

on the right picture, are Shirasu, May is the season for those little fish that you can have with a bowl of rice (shirasudon), great in Enoshima Island (see my day out there in the Tourism section)

Now, I have a photo of the “no sugar” mention in my phone for the yogurts!!

 

Supermarket

Supermarket – what a study tour every time I am there. Packaging, products, price range, writing, everything is different. My 1st week was all about fish and vegetable as I could identify them! But I am expanding choice at every trip.

 

Tofu – one full line to choose from, so far, I tried 2 types, I am not sure I cook it the way it should be but with my own way, it works and it is good

 

Rice remains a challenge, because it is mostly sold in packs of 5kg, I dare not going for just any one in case I would like it, can you imagine? I’d be stuck with 4.9kg of rice I don’t like in the cupboard. So I am tasting every single small pack I can find and I keep the package to compare the writing in store and choose my favourite from this, hihihi

 

Meat – the cut is different here, everything comes in thin slices so tough for me to say which part of the beef it is. I only get meat at restaurants so far and it is always excellent. And by the way, let me tell that there is far better than Kobe beef, Ohmi beef created an unforgettable moment at a recent dinner, never tried something so good

 

Communication (or not)

So far, I take this situation as an opportunity to keep calm and silent most of the time and work on myself! Nobody understands me and I understand nobody and it makes me laugh!

For example, so far, I cannot make the difference between an add in my mailbox for a restaurant delivery service and the electricity bill, all are colourful and written in full Japanese. Ordering food at a restaurant can be challenging since in most cases I cannot read the menu. So  I have overcome the challenge with

  • Going to small family restaurants with 10 seats because there is no menu and you get what there is that day. In Japan, it is always good and clean, so why bother
  • Going to restaurants I have been on other occasions and stick to what I liked there, but it may become boring after a while
  • Benchmark with the price range
  • Take the set menu, always a good one for lunch, prices are very very good at lunch, you can get a full lunch for 1000Yens

And I learn every day of course so more to come