【Kimono Wearing Experience at Kaga Yuzen Kimono Center】
Yuzen, short for Yuzen-zome or Yuzen dyeing, is a dyeing technique characterized by beautiful designs featuring subjects such as flowers and birds (it can sometimes refer to the Yuzen dyed kimono itself). The two central schools of Yuzen are Kaga Yuzen in Kanazawa and Kyo Yuzen in Kyoto. The former uses a more realistic technique in comparison to the latter.
The tour begins with a kimono-wearing experience at Kaga Yuzen Kimono Center. First, Maria chooses her kimono, then picks an obi belt to go with it and a charming obi-himo string to decorate the belt. She gazes into the mirror, watching herself transform, while a friendly member of staff assists her in getting ready. You look very good in pale, grayish blue, Maria!
We advised her to take short, in-toe steps with a straight back when walking. “The stiff obi belt helps keep my back straight anyway,” says Maria.
Web : http://www.kagayuzen.or.jp/english.html
【Tea Ceremony Experience at Gyokusen-en Garden】
Right next door to Kaga Yuzen Kimono Center, the Nishida Family’s Gyokusen-en Garden is a historic chisen-kaiyu-style garden that is about 120 years older than Kenrokuen Garden. Although much smaller than Kenrokuen, Gyokusen-en is just superb because of its marvelous presentation of several small ponds surrounded by rocks. It also has Kanazawa’s oldest tea ceremony room called Saisetsu-tei. So, let’s take a look into the deep and wondrous world of the Japanese tea ceremony!
Maria partook in a tea ceremony presented by a kimono-wearing lady who explained to her in English the proper way to drink tea. She also told Maria that the tea bowl was made from Ohi pottery, one of the city’s traditional crafts.
“I’ve participated in a tea ceremony several times in Kanazawa, but it refreshes me every time I do,” said Maria.
Web : http://www.gyokusen-en.net
【Lunch at Hashiba-cho/ Higasiyama Area】
On the way to the Higashi Chaya District from Gyokusen-en Garden, you’ll find Kinjohro, a ryotei representing Kanazawa that is famous for its stunning food and sophisticated service. A ryotei is a luxurious restaurant that serves kaiseki ryori, Japan’s haute cuisine, and it’s Maria’s first time visiting one.
With its elegant wooden architecture and gracious gardens, Kinjohro evokes the spirit of traditional Japan. The lunch sets consist of many different bite-sized morsels, each one a miniature work of art, with perfect shape and flavor and making the best use of local seasonal ingredients.
Maria admired the exquisite table setting, which also makes use of local craft ware.
Web : http://www.kinjohro.co.jp/english/
Next door to Kinjohro is Ohi Museum, which displays works of the very specific type of pottery made by the Ohi family for 350 years. When the staff tell Maria that the potters did not use a wheel but instead shaped the clay with their hands, she remembers how the tea that she enjoyed earlier in the tea ceremony at Gyokusen-en Garden was served in Ohi ware.
Ohi ware was developed for use in the tea ceremony, being prized for its beautiful shapes and luster. Actually, many elements of the city’s traditional culture, such as its architectural style, dress, cuisine, ceramics, and lacquer, were developed along with the tea ceremony.
Leaving Ohi Museum behind, head for another craft museum, this time focusing on kinpaku gold leaf.
Web : http://www.ohimuseum.com
【Kanazawa Yasue Gold Leaf Museum】
Kanazawa is the home of kinpaku, or gold leaf, and the city boasts a 99% share of the domestic market.
Reaching an incredible thinness of just 1/10,000 mm, kinpaku has traditionally been used in the decoration of artworks such as lacquerware and Buddhist altars, thus supporting the city’s traditional handicraft industry.
Situated very close to Higashi Chayagai, Kanazawa Yasue Gold Leaf Museum has exhibits of the tools used to make kinpaku as well as exquisite art and artifacts that have been subtly decorated with it. The director of the museum explained to Maria in fluent English how kinpaku is manufactured and why Kanazawa has the largest share of the domestic kinpaku market.
Web : http://www.kanazawa-museum.jp/kinpaku/
【Higashi Chaya District】
Just wandering through the streets, admiring the picturesque cityscape, listening to the sound of a shamisen... Ideally located along the atmospheric Asanogawa River, Higashi Chayagai, one of Kanazawa’s three geisha districts, can quell your cravings for Japanese culture and tradition.
“They are lovely,” said Maria, who stopped and looked at the ochaya (lit. teahouse) buildings with interest. Ochaya are traditional places for feasts and entertainment, where geisha have been entertaining guests by performing songs and dances since the Edo period.
Do you want to see the inside of the building? The district has three teahouse buildings that are open to the public: Shima and Ochaya Bunka-kan are each open as museums, while Kaikaro continues to operate as an ochaya providing feasts and entertainment in the evenings, but is open to the public during the day.
【“Geisha Evenings in Kanazawa” at Kaikaro】
To wrap up this classy tour, Maria appreciated “Geisha Evenings in Kanazawa” held in Kaikaro. This authentic teahouse built nearly 200 years ago occasionally hosts special events that allow visitors to enter the otherwise insular world of the geisha.
The evening’s fun kicked off with an emotional dance performance accompanied by shamisen and taiko. Kaikaro’s landlady gave a speech in English on geisha culture.
“It’s my first time seeing a geisha performance. I had a seat in the middle of the first row, so I was excited to see their distinguished appearances and elegant dances!” said Maria.
Web : http://www.kaikaro.jp/eng/
Other Recommended Facilities
【Kazue-machi Chaya District】
When you stroll around this area, you can see very Kanazawa-like and Japanese-like scenes and atmospheres, such as the view of the area from Asanogawa Ohashi Bridge, the rows of chaya houses in Kazue-machi, the appearance of Naka-no Hashi Bridge, and Kuragarizaka (a dark slope), which connects to the Owari-cho hill area.
The historical rows of this teahouse town have been designated as Japan's cultural assets since 2008.
【Sakuda Gold Leaf Shop】
Open : 9 am to 6 pm - Open 365 days a year
Admission fee : free
Address : 1-3-27 Higashiyama
Tel : 076-251-6777
Web : http://goldleaf-sakuda.jp/en/
Open : Dojo; 10 am to 10 pm (Monday, Tuesday Wednesday only) Cafe; 11 am to 9 pm (Friday,Saturday Sunday only)
Address : 34-6 Higashiyama
Tel : 076-252-3176
Web : http://www.machiyajuku.com
Traditional Kanazawa Walk Map