Saturday, April 17, 2010

April 17: Kyoto to Kanazawa

April 17: Kyoto to Kanazawa

Haiku from Kenrokuen Garden

Goshusshin wa?

Where are you from?

Pics: First one is today's haiku (huge debt of ingratitude to first to translate this one), the second one is the tower in the middle of Kyoto, taken on our way to the train.and the last three pics are in order: bear paw (for you not from near Santa Cruz, this is another version of an Its It, or ice cream sandwich), simmer tray #1 of oden, simmer tray #2 of oden. The stuff in the middle is from around Kanazawa.

After breakfast, we do “send ahead” with our bags, off to Tokyo they go. We take the train to Kanazawa, two hours northwest from Kyoto. This is a semi-preserved town, one of the ones spared fire damage during WW II. We tour around, first having lunch at the local modern art museum; it’s a buffet, you get one large plate in the shape of an artist’s palette, and one shot at the buffet. Total $30. Oh, and the museum was between shows, so the only real thing to see was the Turrell skyscape (damn, they are everywhere!).

We visit the renowned gardens, made slightly less inviting by the small fact that it is either raining slightly or snowing imperceptibly. Cold!!!!!!! Today’s haiku comes from a picture DB took in the garden. We also stop for tea (whisked green) and a small treat at a teahouse in the gardens, nothing special for $15.

First stop after the garden: touring the local market. It consists of about 100 fish shops and maybe 10-20 other stalls. More strange fish than you'll see in a lifetime in the US.

We hike across town to see the preserved geisha area, pretty touristy and lots of “recreational” shopping opportunities. We stop for another treat, an ice cream sandwich with charcoal pancakes on the outside and salt ice cream in the middle (see picture).

More hiking back to see the samurai section of town, we know we’re lost when somehow we are back in front of the modern new train station terminal (see picture, of the terminal, not of us lost). Get some directions (DB does a great job interpreting the Japanese hand signals) and find ourselves in another “cute” part of town where we run into someone from the tour that was at Naoshima same time we were. She’s there with her granddaughter who is taking two years after graduating from Williams to do some teaching here. And, they are going to see the same ceramicist we are tomorrow, they have the 10:30 slot and we’re on at 9am.

Dinner is at an oden spot. What, you may ask, is oden? HAH! Oden was recommended to us by our waitress at the museum and is a style of food unseen in the US. A mild soy-based bath is simmering, and in it is a range of food from white to beige (ok, and some meatballs that stand out markedly): meat in cabbage (chicken, I hope), tofu (of course), shu mei (maybe pork), daikon (radish), potato, eggs, etc. We order 8 different things, they get dished up in bowls with a bit of broth and you spice it up with hot mustard (my fave!). We also have sardines, small slices of beef in a miso bbq sauce, pickled veggies, rice sake and beer. Plenty of smokers here. This is sort of the equivalent of going out for pizza or sit-down burgers or sandwiches; a modest meal that can be stretched out over an hour or two. $40 total.

The people on either side of us chat us up a bit, this is not the normal tourist spot. Back to the hotel, we are in a small room that the hotel has managed to arrange with a foyer! Hmmmmm…not exactly sure why they have dedicated 50 square feet to nothingness.

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