DAY 7 (4/7): A STROLL THROUGH THE HISTORICAL HEART OF KANAZAWA, Kenroku-en Garden (兼六園), Kanazawa (金沢), Ishikawa Prefecture (石川県), Japan, 2018.05.31
Since early 20th century, Kenroku-en Garden (兼六園) of Kanazawa (金沢) has appeared in travel literature along with Koraku-en (後楽園) of Okayama (岡山) and Kairaku-en (偕楽園) of Mito (水戸) as the Three Great Gardens in Japan (日本三名園). Today, Kenroku-en Garden remains as a popular destination in the heart of Kanazawa. For most visitors, it is not only the crafted beauty of the manmade landscapes that is astonishing, but also the continuous effort and care throughout generations involved in maintaining the beautiful trees that leave many in awe. Unfortunately we didn’t come at the right season to appreciate the visually stunning yukitsuri (雪つり), which literally means “snow hanging.” It is a traditional protection of the famous pine trees against potential damages caused by heavy snow, whose delicate limbs would be supported by bamboo poles and ropes arranged in conical arrays. In winter, a number of pine trees in the garden would appear like suspension bridge structures.
Kenroku-en Garden (兼六園), which literally means Garden of Six Attributes, refers to the six traditional qualities of a perfect Chinese garden. The six attributes include spaciousness, tranquility, artificiality, antiquity, abundant water, and broad views. Next to the ground of Kanazawa Castle, the 11.4 hectare Kenroku-en was built by the Maeda Family (前田氏) in the 17th century. The garden was established in 1652 when a water system was constructed to divert river water to feed the artificial streams and ponds within the site. Garden features such as tea houses, fountains, stone lanterns, statues, flower beds, planters, and tree groves dot around the larger Kasumigaike Pond and the smaller Hisagoike Pond. These artificial ponds could be seen as allegories of the sea, with miniature islands symbolizing mythical isles inhabited by divine deities. Greenery were planted to offer scenery of distinct seasons: plum and cherry blossoms in spring, irises and azaleas in summer, and red maple foliage in autumn. Out of the roughly 8750 trees, there are dozens of feature pine trees. These feature trees, such as the Karasaki Pine, have received years of attentive care in order to maintain their unique visual characteristics.
Kenroku-en Garden was quite crowded during our visit. It was a day before the city-wide celebrations of Hyakumangoku Festival (百万石まつり). On the second day of the festival, tea service would be provided in Kenroku-en. Unfortunately we couldn’t stay for a few more days to fully experience this popular annual event. We entered the garden via the Mayumizaka Gate (真弓坂口) across from the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art. We wandered aimlessly on the winding paths, hopping from one area to another to check out the picturesque ponds and unique pine trees in the garden. After strolling around the Hisagoike Pond and Kasumigaike Pond, we decided to leave the busy garden and walked over to the Kanazawa Castle Park (金沢城公園). On the lawn in front of the reconstructed castle, staff were busy setting up temporary booths for the upcoming event of the Hyakumangoku Festival. Unlike Matsumoto Castle that we saw a few days earlier, the original Kanazawa Castle (金沢城) was long destroyed by fire in late 19th century. A reconstructed complex was erected in 2001 at the original site based on the castle’s appearance in 1850s. The white and grey colour combination of the castle looked smart and delightful, but somehow the reconstructed complex did look a little too clean and new. We crossed the castle park and walked towards Oyama Shrine (尾山神社), an interesting building that we wanted to check out before leaving the historical heart of Kanazawa.
After D. T. Suzuki Museum , we walked north to the Mayumizaka Gate (真弓坂口) of Kenroku-en Garden.
We soon arrived at the Hisago-ike Pond, where the famous Midori-taki Waterfall and Kaisekito Pagoda featured in the scenery.
Right by the Hisago-ike Pond, the chouzubachi (手水鉢 or hand wash basin) in front of the Yugao-tei Tea House was made from the trunk of a fossilized palm tree.
Design features in Japanese and Chinese gardens often represent miniatures of natural landscape: ponds as sea or rocks as islands. A small rock cluster in the Hisago-ike Pond symbolizes an mythical island in the Eastern Sea.
At Kasumiga-ike Pond, larger manmade islands are planted with pine trees and flowers, providing a focal point for spectators from all around the pond.
Tea houses are common structures in Japanese gardens. Uchihashi-tei Tea House sits beautifully by the waterfront, overlooking the magnificent scenery of the Kasumiga-ike Pond.
At Kasumiga-ike Pond, the famous Karasaki Pine is often considered as the most unique tree in the entire garden.
Around Kasumiga-ike Pond, there are a number of feature pine trees that are painstakingly reinforced with bamboo and wooden posts in order to maintain their unique postures.
Thanks to the manmade reinforcement, the crown of some feature pine trees spread out to great extent.
Neagari-no-Matsu (根上り松) or Raised Root Pine is one of the most handsome feature pines in the garden.
Neagari-no-Matsu (根上り松) or Raised Root Pine.
Near the Kasumiga-ike Pond, the Gankou Bashi or Flying Goose Bridge offers a sense of interest to the garden scenery. There are eleven tomuro stones arranged in the gesture of flying geese.
In late May, there was no sakura or autumn maples, though the irises were still quite eye-catching.
In the Plum-Grove Garden, there are about 200 plum trees with over 20 plum varieties.
After Kenroku-en, we walked over to the Kanazawa Castle Park (金沢城公園).
The original Kanazawa Castle was destroyed by fire in the late 19th century. The elegant Kanazawa Castle that we see today was reconstructed in 2001.
* * *
CHUBU (中部地方) 2018, Japan, 2018.05.25 – 06.03
Day 1: Tokyo (東京)
1.1 TSUKIJI OUTER MARKET (築地場外市場)
1.2 TSUKIJI INNER MARKET (築地中央卸売市場)
1.3 MORI ART MUSEUM (森美術館), 21_21 DESIGN SIGHT & CAFE KITSUNE
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)
2.4 FROM MATSUMOTO (松本) TO KAMIKOCHI (上高地)
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)
6.6 CROAKING FROGS AND MOONLIGHT REFLECTIONS, Gokayama (五箇山)
Day 7: Kanazawa (金沢)
7.1 DEPARTURE IN THE RAIN, Ainokura (相倉) to Kanazawa (金沢)
7.2 A SEAFOOD PARADISE – OMICHO MARKET (近江町市場)
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)
8.6 AFTERMATH OF KAGA YUZEN TORO NAGASHI (加賀友禅燈ろう流し)
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)