There are still a lot of things still clinging on my must-see list in Japan. The three most famous gardens in Japan, Kenroku-en (Kanzawa), Koraku-en (Okayama) and Kairaku-en (Mito), are some of them.
We visited the garden in Okayama during the cherry blossom and it was indeed beautiful. We were impressed by its open space, the perfect alignment of plants, trees, hills, streams and ponds.
So, this weekend Kenroku-en in Kanazwa was the next victim on the list. Kenroku-en means “the garden combining six characteristics for an ideal garden: spaciousness, serenity, venerability, scenic views, subtle design, and coolness”. It’s kind of difficult for a garden to have all these six attributes altogether, but somehow Kanazawa has all of them.
With clear ponds, beautiful flowers (I adore irises), hills and bridges dotting the green space, Kenroku-en looks indeed like a fairy tale, something not to be missed if you are in Japan. It’s a bit far and expensive to get there (3 hours train ride from Kyoto ~about $70 one way; or the cheaper option is the bus for half the price, 4 hours ride), but it’s worth the effort.
Besides the beautiful garden, Kanazawa has other interesting spots as well:
- The city’s personalized manhole cover – I was very happy to find it! Since I found out about the existence of such art pieces in Japan, I’ve been a bit obsessed with spotting them :).
- Cute houses next to some interesting Gaudi style buildings
- Some modern art pieces
- One of the most beautiful train stations I’ve seen
- Delicious orange juice, straight from the orange itself :) ( found at the Omicho market, Kanazawa’s largest fresh fruit market)
- Traditional houses in the Samurai district and the Geisha district, and of course traditional weddings in the temples;
- And the most delicious udon I ate so far in Japan, with home made noodles, small mushrooms and….edible gold leafs sprinkled on top. Amazing taste, I’m sure the tiny gold leafs played their role in that :). (These gold leafs are an important part of Kanazawa’s arts and crafts, the city being the main producer. The gold that covers Kinkakuji temple in Kyoto comes from Kanazawa. People usethe gold flakes in food because of their belief that is good for health and vitality).