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Day 5 (01/05): Kanazawa & Osaka


Day 5 (01/05): Kanazawa & Osaka

  03:16:52 pm, Categories: Japan 2009

Today was to Kanazawa, a train ride of little over 2 hours. As I woke up too early again, took a train earlier to Kanazawa. So I arrived there by 11h. The station has got this beautiful (to me) modern version of a Japanese gate which also reminds a very little bit of a Torii as well. You have to see it to know what I mean as it's not easy to describe.

In Kanazawa there is a convenient city bus that does the tour of all the main tourist attractions, and it's only 500yen for a day pass, which you get out of it after 3 rides. Since most people will stop at the stop with the old street with wooden tea houses and will also do Kanazawa castle and the Kenrokuen, you've got your 3 rides. The bus is easy to find at the big bus terminal at Kanazawa station.
First stop was at the Chaya district with old tea houses. It's a nice street with old wooden houses and you can enter some. But I wasn't too impressed by it actually as it is really just one street, and all side streets and neighborhood are just normal. It's nice to take some pictures of the street and it's not too crowded either. So I returned to the bus stop, on to the next stop which has the 2 main attractions of Kanazawa. First up: Kanazawa castle. It's not a full castle any more as it has been burnt down a couple of times, but the many of the buildings are slowly being rebuilt, which I could see as there was a big building in scaffolds. The grounds are pretty big as has a nice small garden as well. I think I did the whole tour of the grounds and returned to the entrance and went to the other side to the Kenrokuen garden, which is right across the entrance of Kanazawa castle.
This is the biggest attraction of Kanazawa, the Kenrokuen garden, it's considered to be one of the three best landscape gardens in Japan. There is a small entry fee of 300yen but it's quite worth it. The garden is very large and has 1 large pond and 1 smaller pond. There is also a natural water fountain which is caused by the fact that the ponds are on different levels. The fountain can reach a height of up to 7 meters, it was only about 3-4 meters when I was there. There are many tea houses here, with some being located at the banks of the ponds. There is a lot of extra meanings to certain placements and shapes of objects. For example: there is small island in the large pond that is shaped like a turtle shell. A bit further on, there are large stones across a small river that are placed as if it were a flock of geese flying in formation. Then a bit further, there are 7 large stones which represent 7 gods (I think, don't remember it exactly). There's also a statue of a Japanese prince. Also saw a very nice heron (had to look up this word ;p) near one of the smaller ponds. I must say it's a very nice garden indeed, and combined with the Kanazawa castle ground makes Kanazawa a nice day trip, although I was done by midday ;p. There are quite some paths in the garden that are covered with small gravel and there are some slopes where you have to be careful as it can get a little slippery.

Well, as I was done by midday, I returned to the station and decided to go to Osaka in the afternoon. I still hadn't gone to the Umeda Sky Garden, so I decided to do that as it's only one stop after Kyoto on the Shinkansen anyway. And so i could go to my favorite ramen place again as well ^^.
When I arrived at Osaka station, I saw that there was quite a lot of construction going on around the station. The Umeda Sky building is close to the station but I apparently took the long way around as I didn't know there was a convenient tunnel under the train tracks...
My feet hurt again, so I decided to sit for a while in front of the building. As I was just sitting there and resting for a moment before I went up to the top, two women had sat next to me and asked me to take a picture of them with their (throw-away) camera. Apparently, people tend to ask that of other people carrying a big camera thinking they can take a good photo ;p. Anyway, after taking the picture, she asked me if I was a traveller (in English). Then she asked my where I was from, so I said I was from Belgium. And then I'm always expected a certain answer from Japanese people that they either know Belgium or have been to Belgium before, and this time it was bingo! She had been to Belgium before and the first city she mentioned was Brussels. That's the capital of Belgium. Then she mentioned Antwerp, I said I was from Antwerp. And then she said she had also visited another town, it looked very cute and beautiful but she forgot the name. I said, do you mean Bruges (which is THE most likely city to find Japanese tourists in Belgium). Ah yes, she said. And I replied: well those are the three cities you will find Japanese people. And that was the end of the conversation. After that I went to go up the tower, to find that the elevator to go up, had glass on the side and was open to see. I think I could have a dent on the rail from grabbing it so hard (I have a fear of heights). The last part of going looks worse but felt less worse than the elevator was the escalator which went through the middle of the building about 140 meter from the ground. It was also open on the side, but there was a little more distance, so I was less freaking out ;p Anyway, the view was quite nice, the lower floor was inside and the top floor was on the roof. There, again 2 people asked me to take their picture (this time they were tourists). Their camera was a little bit more professional, but it was a little unhandy, don't remember what brand it was. Then I went down again (via the second escalator and that dreadful elevator), and went to my favorite ramen place Ippudo in the vicinity of Osaka station. They seemed to use reusable chop sticks, but I don't like washable ones as they are more shiney and it's more difficult to eat with because you have less grip on the food compared to regular throw-away chop sticks. They have also changed the look of their menu and added pictures and I'm not sure if they now include english on all the menus. I knew I wanted the "red circle" so I just pointed at that one. It's still as busy as ever with a waiting line outside. Returned back to my hotel in Kyoto after that.

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