We headed out early in the morning to catch the Hokuriku Shinkansen from Tokyo to Kanazawa. Once we arrived, we visited Kenroku-en, a garden, and the Kanazawa Castle Park. Afterwards, we briefly visited a small shrine and a samurai district before heading back to the station.
We started out by taking the tourist bus from the station to the northern corner of Kenroku-en. It was quite busy, we probably should have just taken a regular city bus!
From the bus station, we walked up to the road that runs to Kenroku-en. It is quite nice during this time of the year with the trees starting to grow in their leaves. It was a bit wet as it rained yesterday and there was some rain earlier in the morning.
We got a nice view of the eastern entrance to the Kanazawa Castle Park. We’ll visit it later! The bridge goes above the road where the bus dropped us off.
Kenroku-en is a rather large garden with paths everywhere. We decided to walk around the furthest edge first. We first came across this pond, the Hisago-ike. It had a nice waterfall coming down from the higher areas of the park and was quite nice surrounded by green trees.
This little island sat on a man-made seven sided platform submerged in water. Kind of unique!
This structure, the Yugao-tei, is the guard tea house according to the park map.
Continuing onward, we headed up a gentle hill and found a little stream with pretty red flowers.
The same stream from a different angle. The building in the background is probably Shigure-tei, a tea house.
Everything was so green! Spring has definitely sprung here!
It is well past cherry blossom season in most parts of Japan. The cherry tree on the left by the stream still had a few blossoms that hadn’t yet fallen to the ground.
While everything was overwhelmingly green, we did see a few splashes of other colors.
Some sort of flowering tree by a stream…
A different type of tree with white flowers. Definitely not a cherry tree though.
Again, a tiny bit of color in otherwise very green scenes.
A nice resting place where we rested for a few minutes. The structure is actually shaped like a boat though its not apparent from the inside!
A bit of purple! Seems similar to two trees in our local neighborhood back home. We looked it up once and it was a non-local species so possibly the same thing?
The tree in the foreground has leaves that seem to shelter its flowers. We saw this species a bit earlier in our visit and saw a few of them later on as well.
A nice patch of red by a lantern. We aren’t sure if these are functional electric lanterns?
Some more purple!
There are a few gently flowing streams in the garden.
A much larger stream with some plants growing out of the water. And suddenly, tons of people! We encountered many tour groups during our visit.
We crossed the stream over the bridge in the previous photo. This is looking back towards where we came from.
Quite a bit in this scene! There is a tall statue in the distance. In the foreground, there is a torii on the other side of the stream with a stone pagoda next to it. To the left, there is a leaning tree that is supported by wooden poles. This seems to be a common feature in the garden.
A stone lantern under a tree that is different from most of the others in the garden.
Just a very pretty scene!
We ended up closer to the statue we saw earlier. The statue is a monument to local soldiers that died in a war. The tree in the foreground is huge with many of its branches supported by wooden poles.
A closer look at the impressive tree.
And, a closer look at the statue.
This tree is the Negari-no-Matsu, a raised root pine. The tree was grown on a mound and eventually the mound was removed, resulting in the raised roots appearance.
Just a pretty scene near the raised root pine.
There were a few trees with beautiful red leaves.
We eventually reached the Kasumiga-ike, a large pond.
We went up a small hill by the pond.
There are two features at the top of the hill. This umbrella stood at the highest edge.
This stone pagoda was at the center of the top of the hill. Throwing coins to try and get them to stay seemed to be a popular activity.
We then descended and took a path that was opposite of where we came up from.
One of the most famous icons of the Kenroku Garden is the Kotoji Toro, a stone lantern that stands on two long legs.
Another tree with branches supported by poles.
The east side of the park overlooks part of the city.
Another stone lantern. This one was in front of yet another tree supported by poles.
As we started making our way out of the garden, we came across this fountain. It is the oldest fountain in Japan! It is not powered, it uses water from a higher elevation.
After leaving Kenroku-en, we headed back to the bridge that we passed by in the morning.
Looks the same as it did earlier in the day! We saw more people though.
The structures in the castle are all reconstructions of varying ages. Even the ones that are older than 100 or so years still have many modern pieces. From the outside, the castle is quite huge with many long buildings.
Many of the structures can be entered. This one, the upper portion of a long, or wide, gate, is accessible by stairs and a ramp. It also has a nice view of one of the castle’s stone walls. Where wasn’t anything interesting inside the gate. It was just an empty room.
We decided to head south.
A pretty moat lined with flowers!
We took a path that headed up a walled hill. The castle’s keep was formerly at the top, though it does not exist anymore and has not been reconstructed.
There is a storehouse near this point. We went inside and again, it was mostly an empty structure.
The northeastern and southeastern corners of the hill formerly had towers atop them. They are no longer there but there are remnants of their stone foundations. These spots offer great views of the Kenroku Garden and parts of the city.
The hilltop is heavily wooded.
The castle keep formerly occupied this spot. Its now completely filled with foliage.
The northwestern corner of the hill has what could be best described as a large plaza. It has a great view of the castle structures below.
There is a small garden below to the west. We headed down via a tree lined path.
There is a large section of wall holding the hill in place.
The garden soon came into view. It is small and lacking in shade!
An interesting section of wall.
Some stairs that came down from an alternate route from the castle above.
We decided to simply walk around the edge of the garden rather than go through it. One feature of this garden is the castle’s lower wall as a backdrop. It is definitely a very unique appearance.
We exited via this gate. There is a ramp that leads under the structure visible here.
The far side of the gate led to a bridge that goes over a road.
There is a small shrine just to the west of Kanazawa Castle. It has a few structures and a tiny garden.
The garden was rather wet and muddy in places. It had an interesting little looped path in the middle of the pond. This grassy bridge was at the far end, though it was closed. Unfortunately we didn’t photograph the path. The design was interesting as it featured some modern elements.
A three legged stone lantern! The garden had a dense canopy above and was a bit dark.
The side of the shrine. We photographed from this angle because of the sculpture on the right! It has some little golden frogs on a lotus plant.
The shrine’s gate had a very interesting and unique design!
We went through the gate and headed down the stairs on the opposite side. We then passed under a torii, turned around, and took this photo.
We walked a few blocks to the Nagamachi Samurai District.
This small section of the city features what would have been samurai housing. Its hard to tell what this really would have looked like during that time as there is a mix of old and new here.
There are canals on opposite sides of the district.
Overall, as a tourist, it is nice for a quick stroll but otherwise skippable. It did seem to be a very popular place for tour groups though. The Higashi Chaya District, northeast of the castle and garden, may have been a better destination. By now though, we didn’t really have time to go check it out.
We headed back to Kanazawa Station by bus. We ended up taking a JR bus which seemed to be a special shopping route. It didn’t accept the JR Pass like other JR busses but the fare was only 100 JPY, or about 75 cents USD.
The most famous element of the station is this gate on the east side.
There is a large glass canopy behind the gate. Inside, the station is quite large with lots of dining and gift options. We didn’t expect Kanazawa to have such a grand station!