On Day 4 the James' visited Kanazawa, the city where old Japan meets new Japan (I just made that up). We couldn't have picked a more beautiful day. I think it will end up being the prettiest day of the James' visit.
It was my fourth visit to Kanazawa since I came to Japan, so I had a pretty good idea of how to get around. We took the Kanazawa Loop Bus from the station to Kenrokuen, paid a 300 yen admission each, and walked into the largest of Japan's three most famous parks.
The park hadn't changed too drastically from my last visit. You could tell that Spring was on her way because all of the trees (especially the cherry trees) were starting to bud. A handful of trees were starting to blossom, but there weren't very many of them.
In front of the three or four cherry trees that were in bloom were literally dozens of camera happy Japanese. You might wonder, "what's the big deal?" I guess the Japanese feel the same way about a cherry blossom the way Americans feel about a bald eagle. One is just a flower and the other is just a bird, but each means so much more to each respective country.
In addition to looking at the beautiful naturals, I dragged them all to two shrines right near Kenrokuen so that I could fill up my shinto shrine stamp book.
I was disappointed with my stamp from Kanazawa Jinja. When an old man who looked like the Japanese version of Ben Franklin came to the office window, I got excited because I thought that old guy equaled great calligraphy. I was wrong. Old guy equals NO calligraphy. After putting the stamp in my book he spent about 5 minutes rustling through the drawers in the office and never found anything. I have a sneaking suspicion that he couldn't find his brushes.
The stamp (and accompanying calligraphy) I got from the other shrine, Ishiura Jinja, was very beautiful though. I'll post pictures of both stamps soon.
I could have spent the entire afternoon in Kenrokuen, but we had a whole city to explore. Our next stop was Kanazawa Castle Park and her accompanying castle.
We didn't explore the park too much, but went straight for the castle, paid our admission, took off our shoes, and marveled at the castle's woodwook while I played with my camera and my tripod.
I like the picture I took of the castle gate with mountains in the background, but I think the other pictures I took sucked. Therefore, although I played with my silly camera the entire time I was in the castle, the picture to the left is the only one you are going to see.
It was late afternoon by the time we finished our castle tour and the family was tired and ready to head back to Takaoka, but Emily and I wanted to stay in the city for a bit longer. We compromised, so after a little visit to Mr. Donut for coffee and donuts and a quick stop at a third shrine, we took them back to Kanazawa Station, bought their tickets, and put them on the train with detailed instructions on how to get off at Takaoka Station.
With the family safely on the train, Emily and I took a stroll through the Samurai district of Kanazawa (The Samurai district is gorgeous; I don't even want to think about how much a house there would cost) and then went shopping in the shopping district, which begins where the Samurai district ends.
After a few hours of shopping, we ate some McDonald's french fries and caught the bus back to Kanazawa Station.
When we got back to the apartment in Takaoka, the grandparents went to bed, Emily cleaned up the apartment, and Gerry and I went out for white gyoza at a little hole in the wall place very popular with the JETs in town.
Then we went to bed.
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