Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Kanazawa, Day Three

I began my day by watching some Japanese television, justly famous for being, well...unusual. This was a morning chat show that seemed to be hosted by this white fluffy dog. I love it!
The spouses of the other conference attendees and I were picked up for a day of sightseeing; our guide was the very sweet Yukiko. Our first stop: The Kanazawa 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art. The photo above shows a whole gaggle of schoolchildren getting ready to tour the museum. See all the yellow hats? A grandmotherly sort who was with them unfolded a nifty pop-up bin thingy, and the kids trooped by and deposited their hats, one by one. So cute!

We weren't allowed to take photos of the permanent collection, but this was an exhibition that I truly did not get--the language barrier was simply too great, I think. I like how pensive the man looks under the headset. Perhaps he was having trouble grasping it as well... The museum does have a nice collection, including a room-sized work by one of my favorite artists, James Turrell. Next we toured the Kanazawa Noh Museum; it was small, but there were lovely masks and robes on display.

Lunch time! Yummy soba noodles from this restaurant...
We visited Seison-kaku, a villa built by a Maeda lord for his mother. It's an interesting mix of traditional architecture and 19th-century architecture (it was built in 1865, in the last days of the Tokugawa shogunate, just before the Meiji period). This was my first--but not my last--encounter with the enchanting "nightingale floor," designed as an early warning system. Of course, the garden was lovely: below is a simple "do not enter" sign--simply by placing these wrapped rocks, people know the area is off limits.
Finally, we went to Gyokusen-en, a garden that once belonged to the Nishida family. It's rather small, but incredibly lush and lovely.

Yukiko asked if we'd like tea, which sounded marvelous after a day of sightseeing. Unbeknownst to us, it was matcha and was served to us during a tea ceremony (a greatly abbreviated service, but charming nonetheless). The two women who served us were absolutely delightful and insisted on all of us having our photo taken together.

Finally, on the way back to our hotel, our taxi driver insisted on driving us through the Higashi Chaya district, the historical home of geisha (the largest of three such districts in Kanazawa; "chaya" means "tea"); it was full of beautiful old buildings and women wearing traditional dress. We stopped to buy some dried bean candies, which had just been served to us during tea ceremony. An utterly delightful day...


Anonymous said...

The nightingale floors are sheer genius, aren't they? I've learned that all squeaks and creaks in Japan are by design. The wrapped rocks are lovely. Their communications are always so nuanced! The black twine is used for tying bamboo together for fencing. I love it and use it for wrapping gifts, among other things.--DD

Robin said...

What an awesome Day 3. So many great sites and experiences. I loved the last shot of the quiet street.