With Tokyo and Kyoto behind us, we set off to Kanazawa for the third leg of our trip. The city served as our gateway to the Japanese Alps. As more of a stopover location, we could have omitted it from our itinerary, but we had an enjoyable day there.
We stayed overnight at Hotel Resol Trinity. This was our only stay at a Western hotel, but for such a quick trip, we wanted to be in a central location with convenient access to the transit station. It turned out to be perfect. The hotel is directly across the street from Omi-cho Market and about a 15-minute walk from the station. We were able to check-in when we arrived around 11 a.m., and our room was clean, comfortable and modern. For about $90/night, it would be tough to beat.
Our first stop was Omi-cho Market, which was my favorite of all the food markets we visited. Before stopping for a sushi lunch, we snacked on yakitori, including a delicious meatball variety and a mystery stick of organs.
With our bellies full, we set off to explore Higashi Chayagai, the city’s largest geisha district. Kanazawa was spared the bombings of WWII, and the buildings in this area are beautifully preserved. With the meandering tourists and chotche shops, there is a bit of a Disneyland feel to it, though.
Our next stop was my favorite – the Hakuza gold leaf shop. We visited the Hakuza Honten location, which features the Golden Tea Ceremony Room. My favorite aspect was the workshop, in which two gentlemen were making the gold leaf sheets. One craftsman was using chopsticks to place small squares of gold onto near-sheer pages of a book. The other was using a machine to pound the wrapped book until each page contained a sheet of gold leaf. The craftsmen seemed to enjoy having an observer and performed some demonstrations, such as showing how the gold leaf dissolves between your fingers. A tour group had exited the shop as we entered, making us the only customers for the duration of our visit. The staff was very attentive, answering our questions and giving us gold leaf tea. I bought a pair of stud earrings for $40. Upon our departure, the staff brought out a small American flag and accompanied us to the door.
Our next excursion was completely happenstance. We intended to get an early start on happy hour and take in the local culture via the bar scene. Instead, we stumbled upon a festival on the grounds of the convention center and made a detour. Google Translate told us that the event was a “festival of meat,” and what a selection of meat there was. We sampled three or four dishes, had a couple of beers and pretended to belong.