Asia 2019, Japan, Kanazawa, Shirakawago

Shirakawago -> Kanazawa Travel Day

Sal woke up at 5:00  because of the brightness in the room. He said he slept really well other than that. My sleep was pretty good – slightly stiff in the morning, but it went away quickly. He said I snored. Paybacks!! For breakfast there was an assortment:

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Sal went to the onsen (another soak, but this was from a hot spring) while I went for a little walk around the town. When I left the Inn I noticed the Dad sitting on a bench with his grandchild. He kept trying to get him to wave. It was cute. The mom came out a minute later (it was my first time seeing her – neither really speaks English), but it was obvious how happy they were to spend time with their grand baby and just plain proud of him. As I was walking around, all of the sudden I came to this beautiful bridge. I guess that is how a lot of people who do a day trip get into the town. The other end of the bridge had what looked like the equivalent of a rest stop. It also had a ton of tourists on it that walked very, very, slowly. That’s OK. It made me have to slow down and appreciate the scenery.

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Walking through the village I took more photos. I’ve seen pics of what it looks like in the winter. They get a lot of snow and it honestly looks like something that would be in a snow globe, or like in a fairy tale. I don’t think I could handle sleeping on the floor in Winter, though. Brr! Anyway, I enjoyed walking around and taking more photos.

IMG_20190524_085950IMG_20190524_092437IMG_20190524_093625IMG_20190524_093321IMG_20190524_084824IMG_20190524_084802IMG_20190524_084542I went to a shrine where nobody spoke English, and they mimed to me which way I should go. None of the pamphlets were in English, either. It was sort of surprising as most places had at least a little English. As with every building, you take your shoes off before entering. This place didn’t have indoor slippers, so I was walking around in my socks on slippery floors trying to figure out what was what. Then they motioned for me to go upstairs. Of course there is no hand rail and we all know what a klutz I am. I went extremely slowly. I got up to the upstairs level and still had no clue what anything was. The only English was a sign at the end of the room that said that they would take your pic and you could buy a big one or get the small one for free. Sure, why not. So she had me holding stuff and put a hat on my big head. It was a really strange spot for a picture! Then she motioned to smile and started gesturing to me, putting each of her index fingers next to the outside corner of her eyes. Ya know, like that racist gesture horrible people do? My eyes got huge, and I said, “WHAT?!”  Then she walked over to me and took my glasses off. I thought she was straight up being a racist, which made no sense whatsoever, but I’m ridiculous…so there you go. I did laugh at myself later. I was happy she had no idea what I was thinking.

After that incident and receiving my free pic, they motioned to me that there was another level I could go up. Uh, no thanks. I still had to get down the first level without hurting myself, plus I had no clue what was going on in there! Around that time Sal texted that he was done with his bath and asked where I was. I told him, but told him not to bother buying a ticket because nothing was in English. I checked out the actual temple shrine area and then left. The floors were so slippery and there were signs warning people about wasps. I did not get stung or fall, which might be hard for some of you to believe. I dodged a bullet with that one.

IMG_20190524_092024IMG_20190524_091750IMG_20190524_091121Soon it was time to checkout and take a goodbye pic. My new friend even wanted her Dad to take a pic with her camera. Her Dad said, “Say….SWISS CHEESE!” and got one last giggle out of me. I would have loved to have seen what my friend posted! “Old crazy American lady watches Terrace House! Very smiley!”. We walked across the street and waited for the bus, which of course was punctual. The Inn was the first place we left this trip that I was actually pretty sad we were leaving. I just loved that town and that family. If you are in Japan and anywhere even remotely close to Shirakawago, please you must splurge and stay at the traditional inn, Shiroyamakan, with the loveliest Japanese family it’s been my pleasure to meet. Tell them the smiley American Terrace House fan sent ya.

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Sisters we greatly enjoyed meeting!

As we were leaving on the bus, we drove past the Ryokan. I was getting my earphones out and Sal said, “They’re outside!”. Sure enough, they were outside of their home in a row, waving at the bus. We waved back enthusiastically and they saw us waving and my new friend’s smile got bigger and she jogged a few steps waving enthusiastically. Who does that anymore? Who treats their guests truly like friends? I’ve never had such a special goodbye. Just go stay there. I will go again some day. Count on it.to

The bus ride to Kanazawa was nice and only about an hour. We walked from the bus stop to the hotel, which wasn’t all the far. We had to walk through a mall to get to the hotel. The hotel was really big, which I didn’t expect at all for some reason. We dropped our luggage off and tried to find a place for lunch. A few of the spots were, again, closed. We finally found a cafe and had Western food for the first time that trip.

When we got back to the hotel to check in they had upgraded our room free of charge. Nice! The room seemed huge compared to the others we’d had — the bed wasn’t against the wall, for one!

Next on our agenda was a craft class we had signed up for in advance. It was hot and took a while to get there, but we weren’t sure how the buses ran yet so walking seemed like the best option. Kanazawa is known for their gold leaf. You may have seen some Instagram pics of people eating ice cream with edible gold leaf; Kanazawa is where that is famous. We didn’t do that. We aren’t followers. Just kidding, we totally are, but it was expensive and I read the gold doesn’t taste good. Back to the craft class. We were going to learn how to make custom chopsticks, basically putting gold leaf in whatever pattern we wanted to them. We were in a smallish room with a couple of instructors who spoke decent English. We were the only people working on chopsticks. There were around eight Australian ladies making boxes with intricate designs. While our instructor was showing us how to carefully put the gold leaf on I messed up a bit and said, “Oh, crap!”. I didn’t realize how quiet it was and everyone thought it was pretty funny. You can’t take me anywhere.

First you tape off the parts you don’t want gold on.

Then you brush on the gold.

The shop was very nice and we bought some gifts after. By that time my knee was hurting from the long walk and I needed some medicine. Yes, I mean sake. So we found a place where we could taste sake and it was here we even got sake ice cream! It was delicious!

For dinner that night we went to a sushi place. We sat at the bar and the sushi chef knew a little bit of English and asked where we were from. We told him and mentioned the Yankees (Japanese are big into baseball and spoiler alert we go to a game!). Turns out Hideki Matsui, a former Yankee who we really loved, was from Kanazawa. I said, “Oooooh, Matsui!  Godzilla!” and they looked at blankly. I tried to mime it a little bit like RAHR!, but that didn’t help. Godzilla there is Gojira (Sal knew it, of course!). As with most meals, our food arrived quickly.

IMG_20190524_174624IMG_20190524_180222I even tried the baby squid.

 

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Sal enjoyed all of his.

Turns out baby squid is not for me. It was too cute to eat and I didn’t like the texture or the taste all that much. I swallowed it down with a lot of sake. Never again on that one. I actually thing I liked the beef tongue better. Some of the pieces of sushi had a lot of wasabi hidden between the rice and the fish. Whew! Also, I did a big no-no and put too much soy sauce in my dish. It was almost an insult. I apologized and cringed after the chef corrected me. I had unintentionally brought shame upon my family. I had been doing so well, too, with the manners!

We walked home and went to bed. It had been a long, but fun day.

 

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