Thursday, March 26, 2015
Tuesday, March 24, 2015
It was Ai's Saturday off of work and so she was able to join us for a weekend trip to Kanazawa, along with her mother Etsuko-san. The train north goes alongside Lake Biwa, the largest lake in Japan, and through the mountains. It's a city with sprinklers on the main roads to wash away the significant snow falls of winter and a local saying that "even if you forget your lunchbox, don't forget your umbrella." We were, in fact, quite lucky because rain had been predicted, but we had none.
Etsuko-san's brother, Osamu-san, lives outside of Kanazawa in their hometown of Komatsu. We all enjoyed spending time with him over the weekend and appreciated his driving us around the city.
Kanazawa Castle is across the road from the Garden. Ishikawa Gate is one of the few remaining original buildings from its 400+ year history.
On the other hand, the Myoryugi Temple or "Ninja" Temple is very well preserved and a hot tourist destination where reservations are required for no-cameras tours by fast-talking (Japanese only) guides who move groups along on the hour-long tours at an impressive pace. That said, seeing the temple was well worth it. It appears to be a two-story building from the outside, but is actually four stories in seven layers. It's an ingeniously constructed wooden defensive bastion with secret rooms, hidden passageways, traps, and stairs through which to spear intruders (23 rooms, 29 staircases), besides being a continuously functioning place of worship.
. . . or the dish of soba or udon most of us enjoyed that you cook and assemble yourself.
In putting together this posting, we saw that we'd neglected to take a photo of the Kanazawa train station and so shamelessly poached this one off of the Internet. The public architecture, especially of train stations, is very nice indeed. In addition to this monumental tori, Kanazawa has a fountain in front of the station that spouts water to indicate the time and spell out messages. It's a lot of fun and, of course, we were once again a little sad to leave yet another city. Add Kanazawa to the list of those worthy of a return visit. The numbers of foreign visitors, by the way, are likely to increase significantly because Shinkansen service to the city from Tokyo was just begun during our visit to Japan and Kanazawa seems to be the new "hot" destination.
Thursday, March 19, 2015
Naoshima will have to wait for another trip due to another foggy morning. There will always be things that are not quite complete and a visit to Naoshima and the other nearby small islands is a good reason to pay a return visit to Takamatsu and Shikoku. Wanting to stay a bit more dry than our day in Kotohira, we made for Japan's largest wax museum - Takamatsu Heike Monogatari Wax Museum.
But, the real draw of the museum is a series of dioramas dramatizing the rise and fall of the Heike clan in the 12th century, including depictions of the war between the Heike and and Genji clans. The key battle of the Gempei war was fought nearby, not far from the the Shikoku-mura we visited in Yashima. This photo doesn't do justice to the posing of the diorama of samurais charging down a hill.
Wednesday, March 18, 2015
For some reason, there seemed to be elderly horses being taken care of at the shrine.
We felt the Asahi-sha was the most interesting building architecturally (if that's a word).
Another excuse to breath - this one a mythical creature.
Then upward. A total of 1,368 stone steps.
"Only" 785 steps to the main hall.
The percussion musicians are shielded from the audience.
. . . and under the stage the machinery is all there. Here is the turntable mechanism that can be used to rotate a large section of the main stage.
The contraption above the walkway is used for flying scenes. They're all ready for the next performance. The man at the ticket booth handed Kyle a flyer on our way out.