Sandwiched between 2 rivers Kanazawa is a fun, easy to explore small city. Small enough to explore by foot, large enough to have a network of buses if walking is not your thing. There is a geisha district, a samurai district and a ninja temple, but one of the main draws to Kanazawa in spring is the Sakura.
The Sakura bloom in Kanazawa is a truly extensive and beautiful display, the Kanazawa castle park is large and open and immediately next door the superb Kenroku-en gardens is one of Japans top 3 gardens, together the castle park and Kenroku-en bloom in beautiful unison. The rivers that border the town centre are also well planted with Sakura, there are various bursts of Sakura in many other parts of the city.
I was fortunate to have a volunteer guide show me around the Kanazawa castle grounds, and although there is no longer an actual castle in Kanazawa the historical context the guide offered explained the cities strategic layout and gave the remaining historical districts context.
There are two well preserved tea house districts, yet tea isn’t readily available, a tea house is the name given to a geisha entertainment area. Many of the lovely houses now hold shops, cafés and restaurants plying the now open spaces to a curious clientele. There are few touristic geisha experiences available in an old tea houses and although these experiences are far from authentic, they deliver more insight into this hidden world than may otherwise be experienced. This closed world still leaves much to the imagination, the quaint wooden houses holding the secrets of a thousand encounters.
The samurai district showcase a few exquisite houses including those of a lowly foot soldier and one of a highly ranked samurai lord, it is easy enough to stroll through the district following the fast flowing canal through the district. The Samurai lord’s house and garden were really splendid, the beautiful small garden was wonderful to observe, tranquil in site of the constant stream of heavy footed Germans and Americans trooping through the house. I was thankful to be an independent traveller and to have the time to sit and watch the carp swim through the pond.
I didn’t make it to the ninja temple, I got distracted by a bi-annual craft fair, close to Kanazawa castle park, it was great to see the excellent handicrafts of the region, the crockery and paper craft where particularly awesome. I completely mistimed my hunger completely was unable to enjoy eating at any of the plentiful food stalls.