Happy 100th post to me!
There’s a lot of Kanazawa that visitors don’t see. This is probably because the main roads, which are the bus routes, are easier to stick to when walking, particularly those that lead from the station to Kohrinbo and Katamachi, the heart of downtown. The narrow back streets, however, are much easier to use when biking, and biking everywhere in Kanazawa has really opened my eyes to this area I didn’t know existed.
For example, you turn around, and bam! There’s a mausoleum, just tucked in this street with antique liquor stores and vegetable sellers.
In the neighborhoods east of Kanazawa Station, you can see how Kanazawa (金沢, “gold marsh”) got the second character of its name.
The homes and temples along the canals in the neighborhoods of Kohrinbo (香林坊), Hosai (芳斉), and Rokumai (六枚) are characterized by these bridges. I sort of wish I had the money for a canal house just so I could have a “drawbridge”!
Ishikawa (石川) means “rock river,” and the waters of Mt. Hakusan flow down to the sea through the canals and rivers of Kanazawa.
Sanja-machi (三社町) literally means three-shrine town, and, true to form, this neighborhood is home to a number of well-kept and renovated temples and shrines.
Directly across the street from Shôfukuji is a log cabin.
According to google maps, this house is actually a realtor called サフィール (Safîru). I was really hoping that someone lived in this cabin across from one of the prettiest temples in the area, but sadly, no. The building even has a lofted ceiling and ceiling fans! I can’t imagine that would be practical in a Hokuriku winter, but I can dream, right?
Finally, here is Cafe Frere （カフェ・フレール), in Higashi Chaya (東茶屋). Although it’s on one of the main roads into the Higashi Tea District from Omicho Market (近江町市場), I’ve always liked this cafe’s European-style architecture.
Kanazawa was not attacked during World War II, so its winding, organic streets don’t follow a proper grid in this part of town, which is home to a wonderfully preserved mishmash of architectural styles. Walking through Higashi Chaya and streets of Hosai, I often feel like I’ve been transported back to the Taisho era or the “good old days” (古き良き時代) of the Showa-era post-war economic boom.
Speaking of which, a diorama of Kohrinbo of the Showa-30s (1955-65) will be on display next fall（北国新聞, 2011.9.10). This project, led by the Kanazawa College of Art, is part of the “Kanazawa Renaissance.” We are (finally!) scheduled to get a shinkansen line going to Tokyo in 2014, and because of this, living here feels like the way I imagine the Showa-30s were for Tokyo: the whole city is bustling; new stores are opening; tourism projects are gearing up for the influx of domestic and international tourists; and the artistic scene is undergoing a revolution of how it wants to define itself.
Kanazawa, rich and isolated, may be more conservative than other major Japanese cities, but I feel like change is coming as quickly as the construction crews can build those tracks. The ’10s may indeed prove to be a terribly exciting time to be living here.