Kanazawa in the Snow

I did not finish writing about our Japan trip last year because by the time I got to this post, it was already the beginning of May. With spring in the air and tulips in full bloom, it simply felt out of context to recount snow flurries in this city of gold marsh.

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We visited Kanazawa (金沢) during a three-hour layover on our way from Shirakawa-go to Kyoto.

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Upon arrival we hired a taxi and went directly to Kenroku-en garden (兼六園). Kenroku-en is a strolling-style landscape garden with the characteristics of a typical landscape garden of the Edo-period (1603-1868). Originally the outer garden of Kanazawa Castle, it was located on the slope facing the castle.

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Now I am not usually a fan of quick tours or hurried visits. But given the weather condition and the alternative (killing time in a train station), it was just what we needed.

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Kenroku-en is one of the Three Great Gardens of Japan (日本三名園), along with Kairaku-en (偕楽園) of Mito and Koraku-en (後楽園) of Okayama. The garden was named after a garden combining the six attributes of a perfect landscape garden: spaciousness, seclusion, artifice, antiquity, watercourses and panoramas. The name derives from a gardening book written by Li Gefei, a famous Chinese poet.

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Kotoji-tōrō Lantern – a two-legged stone lantern resembles the bridge on a koto, is the symbol of Kenroku-en garden and Kanazawa.

The garden has the oldest fountain in Japan, powered by natural pressure.

and a large Kasumi pond in the center,

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dotted with majestic Karasaki pines.

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In winter, the Kenroku-en garden is famous for its yukizuri – a Japanese technique for preserving trees and shrubs from heavy snow.

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Snow that falls in the winter of Kanazawa is heavy in weight because it contains a large quantity of moisture. In order to prevent the branches of the trees in Kenrokuen Garden from breaking, yukizuri (literary means snow hanging) is performed. This is a method of protecting the branches with ropes attached in a conical array to the trees. Skillful gardeners use more than 800 ropes to give yukizuri to the Karasaki pine in Kenrokuen Garden, which is famous for the great shape of its branches. Yukizuri is a true symbol that tells the coming of winter to Kanazawa. The first snow of the season falls in Kanazawa between late in November and early in December. Kanazawa becomes a snow-covered town from January to February – kanazawa-tourism.com

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The time we spent in Kanazawa, though brief, provided us with a sneak preview of the capital city of Ishikawa Prefecture.

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We wish to go back there one day to visit it proper, savor fresh seafood, sample high quality sake or simply enjoy a soft-serve ice cream cone covered with gold leaf.

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Coming up next: Return to Kyoto.

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36 thoughts on “Kanazawa in the Snow

  1. Kenroku-en looks beautiful in the snow, such a contrast to the bright colours of summer. I remember seeing the gold leaf ice creams for sale, though didn’t try one; interesting that, for now, they’re exclusive to Kanazawa.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Love the info about the weight of the snow! Ingenious solution too. Interested to know if you found Japanese travel affordable? I’m considering a trip but am used to very cheap travel destinations…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Martin. Japan is traditionally not known to be cheap. However, with the strong dollar it is much more appealing from a cost perspective than before. My advice would be travel off season. For example, first time I was in Kyoto, I traveling during the foliage season, all the hotels are booked and a reasonable one costs almost $300. Second time around, I went in February, it was still beautiful, as you will see in my next few blogs, but the hotel rate was $100. Also, regarding food, I noticed that tworunaways just published a post about cheap Japanese food options (https://wordpress.com/read/feeds/59449042/posts/1325724852). Hopefully it will be useful to you. I wish you a fantastic weekend and happy travels!

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