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Archive for the ‘Architecture’ Category

Tsuyu (梅雨), the rainy season, has officially hit the majority of Honshu according to the JMA. The name literally means plum rain, as this is the time of year when the plums ripen. Even though Kanazawa has been suspiciously sunny for several weeks, as soon as I returned from Tokyo on Monday morning, the air felt sticky and oppressive. The rain will come, and then the heat that steals my motivation to do anything but consume liters of iced teas.

The one bright point in the humid horror of tsuyu is the flowers, particularly the hydrangeas (ajisai, アジサイ) and the irises (hanashôbu, 花菖蒲). Kamakura, one of the old capitals and home to the Daibutsu and a stretch of temples that could take all day to explore, is famous for their hydrangeas. Finding myself in Tokyo for a performance of Elisabeth (my favorite musical–review of the 2012 show to come),  I decided to see if the hydrangeas were blooming more than in Kanazawa, downloaded the Kamakura hydrangea walking course information, set off to enjoy those bunchy globes of blooms.


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I’m constantly amazed at how dramatic the landscapes are in the places I have lived since I left the Ohio River Valley. When I lived in Colorado, I spent spring and summer breaks traveling to places like Red Rocks, the Great Sand Dunes, Hot Sulphur Springs, Rocky Mountain National Park, Grand Lake, and Garden of the Gods. When I decided to move back to the Midwest for grad school, I felt a sense of loss–at least until I got to Michigan and discovered how gorgeous it was. If you’ve never been to Michigan in the summer or fall, I can’t recommend it highly enough. The maple leaves, Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes, the lakeshores, the forests, the wine country in the north–even without the mountains I never wanted for beauty.

Moving to Hokuriku meant I got both the sea and the mountains, but the sea never grew on me. My old apartment was about two meters from the water, and while I had always hated the humidity, the tsunami also soured my attitude toward sea-side living. Now when I tell people in Chubu and Kansai that I live in Kanazawa, they often respond, “Oh, by the sea?”, but I live far enough inland that I can’t see it. Rather, I tend to think of Ishikawa as mountainous, with Hakusan in the south of the prefecture and the Central Alps also in the region.

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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.

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