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DAY 7 (6/7): THE SUBTLE BEAUTY OF A WARRIOR’S REFUGE, Nomura Samurai House (武家屋敷跡 野村家), Nagamachi Samurai District (長町), Kanazawa (金沢), Ishikawa Prefecture (石川県), Japan, 2018.05.31

We wandered around Nagamachi (長町) on narrow lanes flanked both sides by yellow earth walls.  We slowly found our way to Nomura Samurai House and arrived at the house’s forecourt about an hour before its closing time.  Once we took off our shoes, we were free to walk around the former samurai house.  It was hard to imagine that such a tranquil complex with a picturesque garden and tea house was actually the home of a powerful samurai (warrior official who served the feudal lord) in the Edo Period.  In the 16th century, Nomura Denbei Nobusada, an official of the first feudal lord of the Kaga Domain Toshiie Maeda, was assigned with the Nomura Family House.  12 generations had passed until the 19th century when the Nomura lost their property during the Meiji Restoration.  It was the historical moment of transition when the samurai system quickly became obsoleted against rapid modernization of Japan.  A business man and shipowner named Kubo Hikobei bought the house in mid 20th century.  He restored the garden and house and was responsible for several alterations, which included adding a tea house.  The focal point of the Nomura Samurai House was undoubtedly the small  garden at the back of the house.  Stone lanterns, stepping stones, pine trees, a small waterfall, a tranquil water pond, and several curious koi fish form a beautiful picture to welcome visitors and exemplify the essence of traditional Japanese gardens.  Journal of Japanese Gardening even claims that the small Nomura garden is one of the top three gardens in the entire nation.  While judging beauty is purely subjective to the eye, the layering of natural scenes and careful arrangement of the verandas, pathways, stepping stones and stone bridges would definitely slow down the pace of visitors.  Only with patience and a peaceful heart could one fully appreciates the carefully configured beauty of the garden at Nomura.

01After a path made of large stepping stones, a humble entrance welcomed all visitors at the entrance garden.

02Prominently displayed at the foyer was a samurai armour.

03The painted screen doors at the tatami drawing room were quite eye-catching.

04Japanese cypress wood, rosewood, ebony, paulownia wood, etc were used for different functions inside the house.

05The family altar is lavishly decorated with gold paint and leaves.  Kanazawa has been a famous place for gold leaf manufacturing for over 400-years.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe Japanese is almost a synonym to fine craftsmanship.  All nails in the Nomura House are carefully kept out of sight.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAt the back garden, trees and shrubs of different sizes provide a layered backdrop to the stone lantern.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe boundary of garden and architecture almost disappears.  Walking or sitting at the wooden veranda would make one forget all the troubles.

09Irregular stepping stones, rectangular stone bridges, and the smooth wooden veranda allow spectators to appreciate the beauty of the garden at his/her own pace.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAA plinth like water basic reveals a certain contemporary charm of minimalism.  Gentle ripples and the sound of the dripping water create an almost spiritual effect to the visitor experience.

11At the end of the veranda, we found our way into another small outdoor space and a stair up to the tea house.

12The transitional space between the garden and the stair to the tea house is another masterpiece of landscape design.

13Before one reaches the stair up to the tea house, a small water feature reminds visitors of the purity and vitality of water.

14The outdoor spaces at Nomura Samurai House are full of beautiful surprises.

15A large variety of bamboo, timber and stones have been used to create a rich palette of textures.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAJust like many tea houses in Japan, the tiny tea house at Nomura Samurai House is an artwork in itself.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFrom the tea house, the lush-green vegetation of the garden defines the ambience.

18Before leaving Nomura Samurai House, a display bonsai reminded us the beauty of many traditional Japanese art did require tons of patience, techniques, care and imagination to maintain.  What might seem to be a simple pot plant was in reality had gone through decades of care and subtle alterations.

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CHUBU (中部地方) 2018, Japan, 2018.05.25 – 06.03

Day 1: Tokyo (東京)

Day 2: Matsumoto (松本)& Kamikochi (上高地)
2.1 MATSUMOTO CASTLE (松本城), Matsumoto (松本)
2.2 “ALL ABOUT MY LOVE”, Yayoi Kusama’s Exhibition at Matsumoto City Museum of Art (松本市美術館), Matsumoto (松本)
2.3 MATSUMOTO PERFORMING ARTS CENTER (まつもと市民芸術館), Matsumoto (松本)
2.5 ARRIVAL IN KAMIKOCHI (上高地), Chūbu-Sangaku National Park (中部山岳国立公園)

Day 3: Kamikochi (上高地)
3.1 MORNING WALK IN KAMIKOCHI (上高地), Nagano Prefecture (長野県)
3.2 DAKESAWA HIKE (岳沢), Kamikochi (上高地)

Day 4: Kamikochi (上高地) & Shirahone Onsen (白骨温泉)
4.1 TAISHO POND (大正池), Kamikochi (上高地)
4.2 RETREAT IN THE JAPANESE ALPS, Shirahone Onsen (白骨温泉)
4.3 MOMENTS OF ESCAPE, Tsuruya Ryokan (つるや旅館), Shirahone Onsen (白骨温泉)

Day 5: Hida-Takayama (飛騨高山)
5.1 CITY IN THE MOUNTAINS, Hida-Takayama (飛騨高山)
5.2 HIDA BEEF (飛騨牛), Hida-Takayama (飛騨高山)
5.3 SAKE (日本酒) BREWERIES, Hida-Takayama (飛騨高山)
5.4 YOSHIJIMA HOUSE (吉島家住宅), Hida-Takayama (飛騨高山)
5.5 HIGASHIYAMA WALKING COURSE (東山遊歩道), Hida-Takayama (飛騨高山)

Day 6: Hida-Takayama (飛騨高山), Shirakawa-go (白川郷) & Ainokura (相倉)
6.1 MIYAGAWA MORNING MARKET (宮川朝市), Hida-Takayama (飛騨高山), Gifu Prefecture (岐阜県)
6.2 OGIMACHI IN THE RAIN, Shirakawa-go (白川郷), Gifu Prefecture (岐阜県)
6.3 SOBA, TEMPLE & LOOKOUT, Shirakawa-go (白川郷)
6.4 RAINY AFTERNOON IN AINOKURA (相倉), Gokayama (五箇山)
6.5 GASSHO MINSHUKU, FLOWER BEDS & RICE PADDY FIELDS, Ainokura (相倉), Gokayama (五箇山)

Day 7: Kanazawa (金沢)
7.1 DEPARTURE IN THE RAIN, Ainokura (相倉) to Kanazawa (金沢)
7.3 D T Suzuki Museum (鈴木大拙館)
7.4 Kenroku-en Garden (兼六園)
7.5 Oyama Shrine (尾山神社) and Nagamachi Samurai District (長町)
7.6 Nomura Samurai House (武家屋敷跡 野村家), Nagamachi Samurai District (長町)
7.7 Sushi Ippei (一平鮨), Katamachi (片町)

Day 8: Kanazawa, Ishikawa Prefecture (金沢, 石川県)
8.1 Iki Iki Tei (いきいき亭) and Higashide Coffee (東出珈琲店), Omicho Market (近江町市場)
8.2 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art (21世紀美術館)
8.3 Kazuemachi District (主計町茶屋街)
8.4 Higashi Chaya District (東山ひがし茶屋街)
8.5 Kaga Yuzen Toro Nagashi (加賀友禅燈ろう流し), Asano River (浅野川)

Day 9 & 10: Tokyo (東京)
9.1 Marunouchi (丸の内) & Nihonbashi (日本橋)
10.1 OEDO ANTIQUE MARKET (大江戸骨董市), Tokyo Forum (東京国際フォーラム)
10.2 FARMER’S MARKET, United Nations University (東京国連大学), Aoyama (青山)


We got up at around 7 in the morning.  The air was cold and refreshing.  We walked down to the courtyard to brush our teeth and then into the dining room for breakfast.  After breakfast, our host suggested us to take a morning walk to the “beach”.  He gave us simple instructions and we ventured off onto the rural paths of Taquile again.  We walked to a part of the island where we had not been to before, following a winding path with a low stone wall along both sides of the path that stretched all the way to as far as we could see.  The beach was at the far end of the island. We could get a glimpse of it from the village centre. Without signage for direction and a clear path leading to the beach, we could only trust our gut to find a way to descend to the beach at the foot of the hill.

The lake water was freezing cold. Two cows were wandering on the sandy beach while we chilled out in the cool breeze.  We stayed on the beach for about 20 minutes until we decided to walk back to the village to check out the handcraft centre.  We climbed back up the hill to the main path.  The handcraft centre had a huge collection of exquisite textiles and wearable pieces handmade by the villagers, such as knitted belts and hats.  The colourful pieces are often decorated with traditional patterns unique to Taquile.  In 2005, the textile arts of Taquile was declared Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity by the UNESCO.  Taquile is often considered a successful example of community-based tourism.  Many islanders participate on making handcrafts for sell at the handcraft centre, or take turns to become hosts for visiting tourists.

After we visited the handcraft centre, we walked by a teenage girl sitting by the road, quietly knitting wool bracelets.  She lined up her colourful bracelets nicely on a piece of fabric for display.  The colourful bracelets had several different patterns knitted on both sides, and they all looked lovely to us.  While we were appreciating the works, a local islander waved at us from afar and he looked anxious.  He tried to tell us something important but we had trouble understanding.  After moments of confusion, we finally understood that he had been looking for us for quite sometime.  A friend of our host, he wanted to let us know that the boat leaving for Puno had changed its departure time earlier than scheduled.  Our host, on the other hand, had gone to the pier to urge the boat captain to wait for us.  By the time we were informed, we had less than half an hour to rush to the pier.  We followed the messenger’s lead to the exit archway of Taquile, where a long flight of stone steps led to the community pier by the lake.  We hurried down the stone steps in a single breath and finally jumped onto community boat leaving for Puno.  The community boat was much slower than the tourist boats, and the ride took over two hours.

After docking at Puno,  we went into a local restaurant at town centre for a big glass of warm chicha morada.  Chicha is a Peruvian drink made of purple maize with a variety of spices or fruits.  Fermented or non-fermented, chicha drinks have been popular with people on the Andes for centuries.  A glass of purple chicha morada (with spices of some sort) became the perfect conclusion for our visit to Lake Titicaca.  The next morning, we would head northwest to the historical heartland of the Inca Empire, Cusco and the Sacred Valley.

7The boy of the host family was shy but curious. He invited us to play football with him at the forecourt of his house.

6Our host’s home had a big foreground surrounded by adobe houses on three sides and a wall at the front. The forecourt is a perfect place for the kids of the family to play football.

1The rural scenery of Taquile in early morning.

2A woman with her sheep for a morning walk.

3The beach that our host recommended was down the hill from the main path.

4The beach is right at the foot of the terraced farmlands.

5We finally reached the beach. We were greeted by a cow and its calf there. The water was too cold for a comfortable swim but the sun was warm and the sand was fine.

10PE05-29At the Handcraft Centre, we found many finely made textile items and knitwears.  Examples of Taquile’s famous knitting could easily be seen everything on the island, including the traditional headwears of the villagers.

8We passed by a number new buildings under construction when we rushed to the pier.  Many buildings were left unfinished until villagers saved up enough money to complete the second level.

9After passing this arch, we would bid farewell to Taquile island.

10Following the messenger, we hurried down the stone steps to catch the community boat.  The stepped path was long with uneven stone risers.

11We finally made it to the pier and were amazed by the speed at which we descended the uneven steps.

12There were a few boats at the dock. The community boat left from a different pier than where we arrived a day ago.

13At last, the farming terraces of Taquile Island was behind us.

14As the boat moved out to the lake, Taquile Island appeared smaller and smaller until it disappeared completely.

15Our boat passed by some fish nets in the lake.

16During the boat ride, we passed by a number villages along the coast of the mainland.

17Close up of a coastal village by the Lake Titicaca.

18We were sitting out on the boat deck.  After the gate marked by the light towers, we knew Puno would soon be in sight.

19We arrived at Puno at late afternoon. We strolled around the market near the town centre and went into a small local restaurant for a warm chicha moranda.

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Read other posts on Peru Trip 2010

1. Peru Trip 2010
2.  Bumpy Arrival, Lima & Arequipa, Peru
3.  Monasterio de Santa Catalina, Arequipa, Peru
4.  Plaza de Armas, Arequipa, Peru
5.  Volcanoes and Vicuna, Pampa Canahuas Natural Reserve, Patahuasi, and Patapampa, Peru
6.  Yanque, Colca Canyon, Peru
7. Cruz del Condor, Colca Canyon, Peru
8. Farming Terraces, Colca Canyon, Peru
9. Road to Titicaca, Colca Canyon to Puno, Peru
10. Afternoon on Taquile Island, Titicaca, Peru
11. Morning on Taquile, Titicaca, Peru
12. Inka Express, Puno to Cusco, Peru
13. Pisac & Ollantaytambo, Sacred Valley, Peru
14. Salinas de Maras, & Moray, Sacred Valley, Peru
15. Lucuma Milkshake & Plaza de Armas, Cusco, Peru
16. Saksaywaman, Cusco, Peru
17. KM 82 to Wayllabamba, Inca Trail, Peru
18. Wayllabamba to Pacamayo, Inca Trail, Peru
19. Pacasmayo to Winay Wayna, Inca Trail, Peru
20. Winay Wayna to Machu Picchu, Inca Trail, Peru
21. Machu Piccu, Inca Trail, Peru
22. Machu Picchu in Black and White, Inca Trail, Peru
23. Afterthought, Inca Trail, Peru
24. Farewell to the Incas, Cusco, Peru
25. Last Day in Peru, Lima, Peru