Tag Archives: Japanese garden

Seeking Geisha and Gardens in Kanazawa, 2016

From the Omi-cho Market, we walked to the Higashi-chaya geisha district. On the way we passed many interesting buildings and more temples. Why are there so many shrines and temples in one place? Perhaps so there is always somewhere to pay respects.

As we crossed the river, we were mesmerised by the sight of lots of eagles hovering, swirling and occasionally diving into the clear water for fish.

The geisha district had lots of pretty alleyways with wooden slat houses and a view to the mountains behind. My favourite were the red coloured structures and one famous street in particular which had the perfect angle for a classic photo. The only question was, where were all the geisha girls?

Inside the Higashi Chaya Krukeikan Rest house, we saw vast living areas, a strange contraption for making tea that was hung from the ceiling and a cute little Japanese garden. My daughter had fun trying on a pair of geisha style wooden block shoes and getting a big stamp of the rest house from the staff there.

Next we picked up some lunch as a local bakery and went to the vast Kanazawa Castle Park for lunch. Many school children were there, also eating. Here we saw our first beautiful orange autumn leaves on trees.

Inside the castle gates, we went into one of the guardhouses that had views over the park and to other parts of the castle. It was a room of golden floorboards and we got our second stamp of the day.

In the grounds of the castle we found two very friendly ladies dressed in kimonos who were more than happy to have their photo taken with our daughter at the castle and wanted a picture for themselves as well. We learnt the word for cute in Japanese- Kawai. It was one we were to hear more as we journeyed around Japan with our daughter.

The highlight of the day was the most beautiful gardens that we went to in Japan- the Kenrouk-en Gardens. It was easy to see why they were heritage listed. The gardens were spectacular with bridges, ponds and views over the town.

We saw the well-known Rainbow Bridge that is depicted on manholes around the town with the Kotojitoro Lantern. The Horaijima Island was in the middle of a pond surrounded by pine trees hanging over the water and the Flying Wild Geese Bridge, made of stones in a point, was aptly named.

Our favourite part of the gardens was when we slowed down and took a seat in a traditional teahouse over the water of Hisagoike Pond. We had green tea that was actually green and muddy and a sculpted Japanese sweet.

As the sunlight bounced off the roof making pretty patterns on the ceiling and we could hear a waterfall trickling in the background, I got a glimpse of the peace that a Japanese garden can bring and didn’t want to leave.

Related posts: Kanazawa, 2016Tokyo, 2016: MiraikanTokyo, 2016: Shinjuku, Tsukiji Market and YanakaTokyo, 2016: Imperial Palace and ShibuyaTokyo, 2016: Ueno and HarajukuJapan, 2016

San Francisco, 2007, Part 2: This is not the end

The next day my husband-to-be (HTB) and I headed to Greenwich St with its rows of rounded houses and the Church of St Peter and Paul. I found my dream house and we got a great view of Coit tower from the top of Lombard St where you could really see the Z shape of the famous zigzag road.

From here we caught a cable car down the hill to Fisherman’s Wharf. I was excited to take a trip on such an iconic mode of transport and surprised to see the driver was in the centre of the carriage.

Fisherman’s Wharf had seal statues and dolphin topiary, so I knew straight away that it was my kind of place. We found an $8.98 store where my HTB cleaned up, buying jeans and t-shirts for only $8.98! All I found was a t-shirt by Sarah Jessica Parker. I didn’t even know she had a label, so I guess it never made it to Australian shores.

The number one thing my HTB wanted to do in San Francisco was go to Alcatraz. Another place I was not that keen on and wouldn’t have gone to if not for him, which actually turned out to be pretty damn interesting. Anyway, I am always up for a ferry trip, and the journey over affording views of the Golden Gate Bridge and Oakland bridges did not disappoint.

We disembarked the ferry at Building 64 under the looming watchful eye of the guard tower. We passed the officer’s club, lighthouse and warden’s house before heading inside the prison and switching on our audio tour. We saw the shower room and a cell house. I could really imagine the sounds of city drifting over at night and it reminded me of Chateau d’ If in Marseille. How creepy it must have been to be a guard here cut off from the rest of the city.

The gun gallery was wisely close by to maximum security cell block D and we continued through the dining hall and kitchen to a cell block where a tunnel had been dug in an attempt to escape. We went inside the admin building where visitors signed in and ended the tour in the recreation yard where I took a great photo of my HTB posing as a prisoner.

Back on dry land, we took a local bus to Baker’s Beach for an unobstructed view of the Golden Gate Bridge. We were the only tourists on the beach and the bridge looked much clearer than the last time I was in San Francisco when it was obscured by fog.

Searching for the Alamo, we found the Panhandle instead and went into Golden Gate Park. I came to see lakes and real Bison so was happy when we found them. I liked the cute little Shakespeare’s garden that grows all the plants mentioned in his plays; and the gorgeous Japanese garden. I walked across a few stepping-stones, found a Buddha statue and stood at the top of Half-moon Bridge and took in the sight of waterfalls and bonsai trees.

Even though we had seen a lot, I knew that there was more of San Francisco that I wanted to explore and I hoped that I would be back in the wonderful city soon.

Related posts: San Francisco, 2007, Part 1: Falling in love again, USA Road trip, 2007: Part 2, Grand Canyon, 2007,  Las Vegas, 2007, USA Road trip, 2007, Disneyland, 2007, Los Angeles, 2007, USA, 1990