9D8N in JAPAN | Part 2

4 May 2018

Welcome back! Here is my PART 2 for my 9D8N in Japan. If you haven’t read the part 1, make sure you read it before continue reading this. As i mentioned earlier, there is so much to see and do in Japan. This post is all about introducing Shirakawa-go, Nanto-City, and Kanazawa. 
Well, Shirakawa-go has became one of the favourite tourist destination lately.

Shirakawa-go is located in Shirakawa in Gifu Prefecture, whilst Gokayama is in Nanto in Toyama Prefecture — however, both are neighboring one another as they lie in the remote Shogawa River Valley. According to UNESCO, what makes these villages special is that they are “outstanding examples of the traditional way of life perfectly adapted to the environment and people’s social and economic circumstances.” 



What makes Shirakawa-go so famous? Well because Shirakawa-go is a historic UNESCO site with marvelous Gassho-Zukuri (prayer-hand construction) houses (合掌造り) It is said that some of them are even more than 250 years old! There are a total of 114 thatched roof buildings in Shirakawa-go.
Gassho-zukuri roughly means “hands in prayer” and it is derived from how the roof’s shape resembles two hands in prayer. Spot the one behind me? This design has been developed for years to help withstand heavy snow, especially with how the region typically experiences such during winter.

The observartory is the best place to take the best picture of Shirakawa-go. 
A must when visiting the village
Look at the view
Shirakawago and Gokayaka have different attractions in four seasons. You can enjoy the area whenever you visit there. I personally prefer winter because everything is in WHITE 

There are a few large Gassho house you can tour, and our guide recommend the Kanda House (神田家) as they serve wild herb tea to their guests during the visit. It is around 300-400yen for the tickets.  Like many other families in the area, the Kanda family still lives in the house today but in a separate wing.

Love the scenery of the village, like a postcard. 

HOW TO GET THERE?

The easiest and cheapest way to get there is by bus.

From Takayama – There are around 10 departures daily from Takayama (Nohi Bus Center) by bus. Journey time is between 50 minutes to 1 hour   

From Kanazawa – There are around 10 departures daily from Kanazawa (Kanazawa Station Bus Terminal #2) by bus. Some of the buses stop at Gokayama while others are direct to Shirakawa-go itself. For non-stop buses, the journey time is 1 hour and 15 minutes. 

You can check both train and bus schedule here : 



NANTO CITY 

Next, we went to Nanto City which is nearby Shirakawa-go.
It is around 30 minutes drive from Shirakawa-go.
It is a small and peaceful city. Nanto is blessed with an abundance of natural scenery.

This is how people dressed up during the old times for winter. 
#1 Gokayama Historical Village
This place is also the UNESCO world heritage site in 1995, it is similar with the one in Shirakawa-go but in a smaller version and lesser tourists compare to Shirakawa-go. But, the scenery is amazing too and it is easier to take photo compare to Shirakawa-go because lesser crowd and not so touristy. The village's farmhouses have centuries of history, you can choose to stay overnight in one of the homestay and experience more about the local and cultural. 

If you want a fuller experience, you can even choose to do a short stay at Shirakawa-go at one of their farmhouses serving as minshuku.

We walked up to the top to catch the better view. It is around 15 minutes walk

Demonstration of traditional song called Kokiriko at Murakami House. This is specific to the cultural properties of Gokayama, and have been maintaining by local people singing and dancing to them. 

Besides that, Nanto city is rich with cultural and traditional art work. You will get to see many handmade art and products made by the local artist. We get to visit a few and it is really impressive. 

Handmade postcode with different scenery of Nanto City 

The quiet woodcarving town of Inami in Nanto City. Traditional wood carving is the feature of the town, and there are over 200 artisans trained in the art and living here. The art work is impressive.


 The Japanese Silk making factory. 

Gokayama Washi Paper making experience
We get to make our own postcard using the Japanese washi paper. 
It was pretty fun and interesting. 
Managed to make a few postcards by my own and send it to my readers. 

# Lunch at Makino Oto in Toyama Prefecture

This is a MUST if you happen to visit Toyama. This restaurant is located in a little hotel. Highly recommended! The food is amazingly GOOD and the view is spectacular. 

It is french dining with few different courses using mainly local product ingredients. It is very healthy and nicely presented. The taste is amazingly good. It costs around RM200++ per pax but it is totally worth it! Trust me. 

Making-Oto
140 Noguchi, Nanto 939-1844, Toyama Prefecture


KANAZAWA 

#1  21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art Kanazawa

First stop in Kanazawa - The 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa is a museum of contemporary art located in Kanazawa, Ishikawa, Japan. It is by contemporary artists from Japan and all over the world, and is among Japan's most popular art. It is not allow to take photo in the museum, only in the public area which is the pool. 

One of the most famous work is by Leandro Erlich's "Swimming Pool", a pool where people appear to be underwater (entry inside the pool requires paid admission). It is the highlight of the museum 

Exhibitions open 10:00 to 18:00 (Friday and Saturday until 20:00) 
Public spaces open 9:00 to 22:00
Fees : 1000yen 


#2 Higashichaya Old Town

Upon our arrival in Kanazawa, we headed straight to the Higashi Chaya District. There are numerous shops for all sorts of gifts, many coffee and sweets sellers, and some nice restaurants. Definitely worth a few hours of strolling. Absolutely a place to visit in Kanazawa. It totally looks different compared to other streets in japan. Gives you a feel of Japan back in the days. 

The streets are lined with various quaint shops, boutiques and eateries. But there is one special ice-cream is the gold leaf ice-cream. Kanazawa’s Gold Leaf is extremely well known for its superiority. It never oxidises or changes color, and so thin it will disappear when you rub with your fingers.  Once you arrive in Kanazawa, you will soon notice gold leaf being used in everything (almost), from food, arts and crafts to interiors I managed to get of one it. It is around 800yen for the ice cream.

Kanazawa is filled with beautiful historical houses, geisha and samurai districts, traditional arts and handicrafts and beautifully preserved gardens, Kanazawa is one of the most significant cities of the Edo period. It is also a must to drop by one of the Geisha house during the visit. The old wooden Geisha houses have been well preserved.  


We also stopped by for Japanese matcha tea tasting with traditional Japanese sweets. 


Love the environment, enjoyed at the heart of the Japanese culture - Zen

SHIMA GEISHA HOUSE
Admission: 750 yen.
Open daily from 9am-6pm
Address : 1 Chome-13-21 Higashiyama, Kanazawa, 
Ishikawa Prefecture 920-0831, Japan


#3 Samurai District 

The best way to explore and experience the Edo history of Kanazawa is through a personalised tour with a local guide. At least you can get to understand more about the history and the cultures. 
Taking a beautiful stroll along the well-preserved walls and entrances of Samurai family houses, I so wish I was dressed in Kimono. I would’ve gotten some seriously lovely pictures!

Old samurai house in Kanazawa 
In the Nagamachi Samurai district just off the main area of Kanazawa, middle and low-ranking Samurais' houses remain to this day.
Nomura Family Samurai House 
Admission: 350 yen
Hours : 8:30 AM - 5:30 PM
1-3-32 Nagamachi, Kanazawa, Ishikawa Prefecture


After visiting the Samurai & Geisha Districts, we went to Kanazawa Castle and Kenroku-en Garden Tour, was to see the beautifully restored 16th century Kanazawa Castle.Kanazawa Castle
The original castle dates to the late 16th century, but has suffered so many fires over the years that there are very few original structures extant except, of course, for the stone walls, of which there are many. 
# Kanazawa Castle
Kanazawa Castle is just across the Ishikawa Bridge from Kanazawa's prime attraction, the Kenrokuen Garden. Both sites are must-sees on a visit to Kanazawa in Ishikawa Prefecture

Kanazawa Castle
Open daily from 7AM-6PM
Address -1番1号 Marunouchi, Kanazawa, Ishikawa Prefecture 920-0937, Japan


# Omicho Market

If you love local markets, fresh seafood and produce, then you must visit Omicho Market.  Omicho Market is the largest fresh food market of Kanazawa. You can buy all sorts of high quality, fresh seafood... just to start!This is my favourite place because i’m a big fans of RAW seafood

You can also have lunch at restaurants inside the market. It is not unusual for lines to build in front of the popular restaurants, many of which specialize in rice bowls topped with fresh Kanazawa seafood.

How to Get There?

Omicho Market is a 15-20 minute walk or a short bus ride from Kanazawa Station on the way to the city center. Get off at Musashigatsuji bus stop. It is served by most buses departing from the station's east side, including the JR buses.

Omicho Market 
Open daily from 9.30AM-5 PM 
50 Kamiomicho, Kanazawa, Ishikawa Prefecture 920-0905, Japan


Alright that’s all for my sharing. Drop me a comment if you wish to know more about this trip. I would love to help. For those who are looking for a tour, feel free to check out 


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