After zonking out after yesterday’s adventure around Kanazawa, we must have slept for like 11 hours! That being said, it totally reset us for Japanese time and we both woke up bright-eyed and ready to explore.
After gorging at breakfast, we thought it might be a good idea to work off some of those calories with a little wander around the local area. Luckily, close by was the Nagamachi Samurai Residence and neighbourhood which we’d been told was once where all the samurai used to live.
Immediately, this grabbed my attention and I knew we had to visit.
Strolling the little streets, it’s easy to see why the Nagamachi Samurai District chose this area to live. The houses were incredible!
Even to this day, some have been preserved and still in-keeping with what the Samurai District would have been way back when.
Although the area is nowadays mostly residential, there are still a few little gems that you can still pop inside. One such place is the Nomura Samurai Family House with some of the most picturesque gardens and rooms inside.
After paying a small fee to enter, we walked around and took a little stroll through the gardens.
Now, not much is in English, but helpers will always try to answer questions if they can.
There were even some scrolls which came from hundreds of years ago where a samurai was sending a thank you note. I thought this was totally sweet until I heard what he was thanking the person for… it was for delivering his enemies head! *gulp*
After all that excitement of delivered heads, we heard about a little tea experience we could try on the upper floors. Being a true Brit, I could never say no to tea so we hopped up without a moment’s hesitation.
Although this wasn’t a traditional tea-drinking experience (which can take hours), it was still a lovely thing to do. as the Green tea arrived, I quickly remembered why the Japanese give you something sweet to have with your tea It’s surprisingly bitter and, for some reason I always forget.
Once again, time was our enemy so we decided to call it a day and pop straight over to the hotel to check out and go to our next area of the Ishikawa Prefecture, Hakusan City.
After grabbing our bags, we hopped on the Kitatestu Ishikawa line and was all set for the hills… you see, Hakusan City was a little more nature-based and rural than the capital, Kanazawa.
Within about 30-45 minutes, our train pulled up and we were raring to go!
Being much more sleepy and quiet than the capital, we were totally planning on leaning into the vibe of the place, especially after such a busy day in Kanazawa. Though, just across from the station was the city hall, which had some electric bikes inside.
Now, I’m a sucker for electric bikes as it allows me to feel like I’m doing plenty of cardio without having to break out into a hot mess…It’s my favourite type of biking!
Though the weather had other ideas, after about 15-minutes, a sprinkle of rain had turned into a little downpour and we decided to call it quits on biking. After all, it seemed like Mother Nature didn’t want us to exercise.
With the rain starting, we thought it would be a good idea to catch an early lunch. So with that, we headed over to Ohagiya to try our hand at making sasazushi, which is a type of sushi that’s wrapped in bamboo leaves.
By this point, my tummy was rumbling and I was starving. There’s something about preparing food that just makes me so hungry.
I swear, I must have made my sasazushi so quickly, whilst Yaya was so particular and delicate with his own.
After filling up, we decided upon visiting the Shirayama-Hime Shrine that was right next door to the restaurant we stopped at.
Now, one of the things that makes this shrine so special is the fact that it’s the head of around 3000 Shirayama shrines in Japan – making it a very important spot in Japan.
Dedicated the Mt. Hakusan (which overlooks the area), it’s somewhere where you can actually have a water purification ceremony within the shrine itself. Now, anyone can do this and it can be arranged through the shrine itself, you just need to make sure they have space for you on a specific day.
So, with that, we walked up the thousands of years old pathways and cedar trees to the shrine itself. It was an incredible walk and almost felt surreal.
After about 10-minutes, we finally reached the foot of the shrine, where, we immediately met with the team about performing our water purification ceremony.
To make things easier, we had a little look around and got our bearings whilst booking the ceremony itself for the next day. I could already tell this was going to be something very special for tomorrow.
That being said, we wanted to make the most of today so, come rain or shine, we decided to risk our luck and go up to the Shishiku Highlands by gondola.
Though it seemed luck wasn’t on our side, as we climbed ever higher, the rain started to pelt the gondola itself and the foggy dewy air came in. Instead of stunning views across the valley, we just got a little wet. Though, we wouldn’t have known if we hadn’t tried.
Within about 10-minutes of patiently waiting for the clouds to disappear, we decided to call it a day and head for some indoor activities instead.
Thankfully, there was a local place which used bamboo leaves to create crafts and figures which we kinda just threw ourselves into.
Now, in some ways, it felt a little like sewing, especially as you had to put things in the correct way and make sure everything was pulled just right. Though, don’t hold up any hope for me here… I was terrible at it! I think the lovely people at the craft house helped me with 99% of my work. Though, I did add the googly eye! 😉
As the rain began to get heavier and heavier (apparently it was a typhoon approaching), we decided Mother Nature had won for the day and headed to our Ryokan, Wataya (Tsurugimachi). As soon as we entered, I realised how special this place was.
Perched right next to the shrine we visited earlier, the Ryokan was just stunning. After being shown to our rooms and warming up with some green tea and some chill time.
The whole property was just beautiful and the rooms even had their own firepits to cook on the open wooden porch area. It was so tranquil.
After a few hours relaxing, we decided to visit the Onsen before heading to lunch on the upper floors.
The whole place was so quiet and relaxing and we were raring to eat our Kaiseki dinner.
Now, traditionally, a Kaiseki is a multi-course dinner that has beautifully crafted small plates that are served over a number of hours. It’s a much longer process than just having one plate and was something we’d loved before when visiting Kyushu Island.
After a few courses of local vegetables and raw fish, we were treated with ‘sweetfish’ that were freshly caught and baked by our fire within the Ryokan itself. As our chef tentatively waited for them to cook, we had a few more courses of vegetables and small plates that seemed to be never-ending.
Though, within what must have been only 10-minutes, our freshly caught and baked fish were on our plate and ready to eat.
Straight away, I could tell why the fish was nicknamed ‘sweetfish’, mainly because its taste is much sweeter than your typical cod or tuna you might eat.
It was delicious, though I couldn’t bring myself to eat the head.
After filling our tummies, we decide to call it a night and head back to the room. Whilst we’d been gorging and nattering, the Ryokan has set up our bed for us to hop right into.
It was bliss.
Read more of tomorrow’s plans: Experiencing Misogi Purification Ceremony In Japan
A Misogi Purification Ritual And Temples In Hakusan City – Japan