Kanazawa, the capital city of Ishikawa prefecture, is best known to be culturally rich and its beautifully preserved historical townscape.
The most touristy of all, is probably Higashi Chaya (東茶屋街), a well-preserved traditional district that used to serve as tea houses in Edo period where the geisha performed.
And of course, one of the most popular touristy thing to do in Higashi Chaya district, is to put on a kimono and stroll around the back alleys.
Kimono Rental Kirara
This was the kimono rental shop we rented our beautiful outfits from. We moved in quite a large group so everything had to be super quick as we had a tight schedule to follow.
It was amazing how swift their deft fingers worked on putting on layers of colored cloth on us, tying a perfectly sophisticated obi, and then giving us ladies a quick hair-makeover that’s stylish but not too elaborated. You can find out more from their Instagram – @kanazawa.kirara.
With Tai Tai and Xiao Yu. Really love the bright, colorful prints the shop had to offer!
Unfotunately it was a rainy day, so we had to put up umbrellas provided by Kirara, but even the umbrellas are designed with pretty colors and patterns that match our kimono! And to bring their hospitality to the next level, Kirara also provided a shoe cover so that our feet won’t get drenched in wet rain. You can see it in the above photo, it fits the geta sandals perfectly yet not an eyesore because of the transparency. Simply genius.
Every turn of a corner is a good photo spot for insta-genic pictures.
A local shrine.
The fur scarfs were also provided for us for free as they shop staff worried that we would feel cold in the rainy weather.
Love how the umbrella gives the photos an extra ambience! <3
We didn’t get to explore much other than photos taking due to time limitation, but if you have more time, there are many shops selling unique accessories and other handicraft, especially products made of gold leaf. ^^
Hakuichi Gold Leaf Museum
A must do in Kanazawa is to see golds. You can see, touch, buy, decorate, and even eat gold here in Kanazawa.
Here at Hakuichi “museum”, you get to see the history, culture, and manufacturing process of “kinpaku” – gold leaf.
The Room of Gold Leaf features many precious displays fully clad in real gold. Photos were not allowed except for this special piece of display – a replica of a suit of armor with a helmet said to have been worn in battles by Maeda Toshiie, a warlord who ruled Kanazawa in the 16th century.
Gold Leaf Application Workshop
I strongly recommend to try this out as it is only … *gasp* 800 yen for the whole experience and for you to take home your very own personalized bamboo chopsticks clad in gold and silver leaves!!
Why are all the experiences so affordable in Japan? So far I’ve tried senbei making for 300 yen (5 pieces), washi post card making for 700 yen (3 pieces), and this…😱
There’s English instruction so you will sure be able to follow the step-by-step process!
And check out that massive piece of gold leaf!!!!! And on top of that is a piece of silver leaf (for an extra 200 yen), so that you can mix and match the colors and pattern that you want. For whatever is left-over, you can bring it home and apply it on other items, such as… on your nails? Haha. This is not made edible so you can’t put it on your food, but you can buy edible gold leaves in their gallery downstairs.
The very kind shop staff will assist you to make sure the application goes smoothly.
Applying gold patterns.
Our designs! It’s perfect as a personalized gift for someone. ^^
Other than chopsticks, there are also many other experiences you get to try out, such as personalizing gold-leaf application on postcards (500 yen), coasters (800 yen), candle pots (1200 yen), small dishes (from 1000 yen), tote bag (1200 yen)… etc. All very affordable.
Gold Leaf Transferring Experience
For the gold enthusiast, you can even try the super-difficult challenge – gold transferring. And Hakuichi is the only place in the entire Japan that provides this experience!!
What you do is that you use a bamboo stick to pick up a piece of gold leaf in square and transfer it to a leather board. It will be very wrinkle at first so you will need to blow onto it gentle so that it spreads out smoothly and perfectly. After that you can trim off the edges to make a perfect square. You can bring home the final product.
And this, for only 500 yen. T_T
We didn’t have time for this but we saw the shop staff skilfully transfered an immaculate gold sheet one after another. It was incredible!
Gold Leaf Soft Serve
This is the thing that people come all the way for – Gold leaf soft serve!!
And the limited edition seasonal flavor is of course… sakura!!!
It is sold at 900 yen per cone, a lot more expensive than the usual soft serve you can find anywhere else, but…
Again, it’s a massive edible gold sheet on your ice cream!!!
It’s also served on a metal stand so you can sit down and enjoy it slowly.
My glittery indulgence of the day.
People who have not tried this must be wondering how it tastes like! Most of the gold leaf/flakes I have eaten are absolutely tasteless, but since I’m able to take a huge sheet of this at one go, for the first time I feel that it has a very very slight saltiness to it.
And… that’s it. Haha. Worth trying just for the sake of it, though! You don’t get to eat gold every day. ^^
If you have not been to Kenrokuen, you may as well not have come to Kanazawa – as they say, for Kenrokuen is one of the 3 most beautiful (and of course famous) Japanese Garden in the country.
The rain had not stopped when we came here, so it was a little bit of a bummer. Still beautiful nonetheless.
Just a garden, no big deal – many may think.
Honestly, I did not think much of gardens too, and also not one with fine art senses to appreciate one as such. But I really enjoyed my visit to Rikugien in Tokyo, and have also watched documentaries on how these gardens are maintained by artisans. It simply blew my mind. For that, I would like to appreciate as much as I can, every little details where effort was put in creating a landscape so calming to the mind.
Every plant here are all well cared for and protected.
The ropes and to protect the trees from being damaged by heavy snow fall.
Cherry blossom was yet to bloom, but there was little plum blossoms here and there.
That’s all for Ishikawa prefecture this time. ^^
Awara Public Foot Bath, Fukui Prefecture
Ishikawa was our last destination for sightseeing. After Kenrokuen, we were set to return to Nagoya to catch my flight back home.
But before that, we stopped by Awara Onsen, an Ashi Yu (foot bath onsen) in Fukui prefecture. I was so so so happy because… I get to check one more prefecture off my list, although it was just a brief stop.
Guess what? This foot bath onsen is free of charge!!!!! (What???? Why???? How???? Japan can you stop amazing me all the time!)
So I asked why such a useful, comforting facility does not charge, and I think it is set up by the local town government for travelers to take a relaxing rest before leaving for the next journey, as there is a bus stop nearby.
The entire facility was built with traditional architectural methods where most things were wooden-made including the natural floor tiles and bath.
Apparently there’s a recommendation to follow for the foot bath. You should enter the first bath, where temperature is set around 40C.
Followed with the second, and third, as the temperature increases.
Yeap. Fukui prefecture, checked. Be back next time for more!!
By the way, the Awara Onsen area itself has lots of offer! It is of course, an onsen town, so immerse yourself in the beautifying hot spring and enjoy the traditional town. Here you can also experience Hakama Wearing (which is quite rare compared to Yukata or Kimono!!), as well as Geisha Transformation. I didn’t have a chance to experience it myself, here are the information, please try it on my behalf. T_T.
You can try fruit harvesting such as strawberry, blueberry or grape picking, depending on the season. Can’t wait to be back!
Kanda S.S, Shiga Prefecture
So, for this JNTO (Japan National Tourism Organization) trip, my group was to cover the Chubu area in Japan, an area located directly between Kanto and Kansai regions. Here’s a map for your reference.
It includes Shizuoka, Nagano, Aichi (Nagoya), Gifu, Toyama, Ishikawa, Fukui and Mie prefectures. Some definitions also include Niigata, Yamanashi but exclude Mie.
Here’s the route we took, which I think is really quite a perfect route to cover the Chubu areas. We started off from Chubu Airport in Aichi prefecture, moved to Gifu prefecture and passed through Gero, Takayama boardering Nagano prefecture, and up to Hida. We then transited in Toyama prefecture to visit Gokayama World Heritage, before embarking on a journey to drive along the only sandy highway in Japan to reach Wajima in Ishikawa prefecture, and finally back down to Kanazawa and covered Awara Onsen Foot Bath in Fukui prefecture before returning to Nagoya in Aichi prefecture.
And I was most happy because Chubu was the biggest areas that I have not been, so for this trip I get to check off many at one go!
When the tour guide heard about my #47prefecturemission, she specifically requested the bus driver to make a brief stop at Kanda, a rest area in Shiga Prefecture (marked with location tag in the above illustration). A prefecture I had not set foot on.
I was so so so thankful for this kind gesture. T_T.
Many people asked me what’s my criteria for checking of each prefectures, does passing by one on the train counts?
Of course it is up to the individual, as this is not a competition, for me personally, I count a prefecture in as long as I touch my its soil with my own feet, and I buy a local specialty or collect a local Gotochi Kitty.
I quickly dashed over for a quick picture as proof haha. After that only I know that there’s also an area called Kanda in Tokyo hahaha.
But anyway, Shiga prefecture, checked.
Bought my Gotochi Kitty as proof! So glad that this rest area is selling it.
And… that concludes my trip to Chubu region, Japan. I hope you enjoyed the journey so far. 🙂
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Happy travel in Japan!