Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Discover Japan #10: Kanazawa (THE EAST Campaign in Association with Japan National Tourist Organization London Office)

Kanazawa is the capital city of Ishikawa Prefecture in Japan.The city sits between the Sai and Asano rivers. Its total area is 467.77 km².

Kanazawa was one of the few major Japanese cities to be spared USAAF fire bombing during World War II.
As a result, Kanazawa’s considerable architectural heritage has been preserved.
Kenrokuen Garden is by far the most famous part of Kanazawa.
Originally built as the outer garden of Kanazawa castle, it was opened to the public in 1875.
It is considered one of the “three most beautiful gardens in Japan” and is filled with a variety of trees, ponds, waterfalls and flowers stretching over 25 acres (100,000 m²).
In winter, the park is notable for its yukitsuri — ropes attached in a conical array to trees to support the branches under the weight of the heavy wet snow, thereby protecting the trees from damage.
Outside Kenrokuen is Ishikawa-mon, the back gate (karamate-mon) to Kanazawa Castle.
The original castle was largely destroyed by fire in 1888 but part of it has been partially restored as of 2001, with more to come.
There are currently plans to re-create much of the original castle grounds, including some surrounding areas.
The Seisonkaku Villa was built in 1863 by a Maeda lord, Maeda Nariyasu (13th Lord) for his mother, Takako.
Originally called the Tatsumi Goten (Tatsumi Palace), it Much of the villa has been dismantled, but what remains is still one of the most elegant remaining feudal lord villas in Japan.
The villa stands in a corner of Kenrokuen, but separate admission fees (¥700) apply.
Notable features are the vividly-coloured walls of the upper floor, with purple or red walls and dark-blue ceilings, and the custom-made English carpet in the audience chamber.
Kanazawa also boasts numerous Edo period (1603-1867) former geisha houses in the Higashi Geisha District, across the Asano river (with its old stone bridge) out from central Kanazawa.
Nearby is the Yougetsu Minshuku which sits at one end of one of the most photographed streets in Japan.
This area retains, almost completely, the look and feel of pre-modern Japan, its two-story wooden facades plain and austere.
Kanazawa is well-known throughout Japan for its traditional cooking, which is called Kaga Cuisine. Seafood is a specialty, jumbo shrimp, followed by sushi and sashimi.
The sake produced in this region is of high quality, smooth and sweet, derived from the rice grown in Ishikawa Prefecture as well as the considerable precipitation of the Hokuriku region, allowing for an ample supply of clean, fresh water.
Omicho market is an open-air market in the middle of the city which dates back to the Edo period.

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