Golden Week in Japan

I can’t believe it is already May. I have two more weeks of classes and then finals week. I feel like this semester has passed so fast. I have accomplished so much over here and have made so many new friends. It will be sad when the semester finally ends.
This past week from Saturday-Wednesday was a string of holidays known as Golden Week. This is one of the busiest times for cities and it is almost impossible to find a hotel with vacancies if you don’t book a month or so in advance. I made plans almost three weeks in advance but that left me with a very minimal selection of hotels that were all extremely expensive. I decided to go to Kanazawa because I have not been there before and I was invited by a friend. Actually recently in my Japanese class, a girl did a presentation about Kanazawa and some of the things to do there. It looked like a wonderful place to visit while I had a break from school.
On Monday, I left my homestay house around 7:30 am to go to Kyoto to catch a rapid express bus to Kanazawa. Taking a bus is very time consuming but it is so much cheaper than taking a Shinkansen. I believe the Shinkansen one way ticket was close to 100 US dollars as compared to the 35 dollar bus ticket. I recommend that if you come to study in Japan, you you take the cheapest travel methods you can. Of course you should ride in the Shinkansen at least once but if you use it all of the time the money adds up very quickly. I left Kyoto by bus around 9:45 am and arrived in Kanazawa around 2:05 pm. The bus ride was actually quite enjoyable. I was able to get a lot of studying in and got some nice scenic pictures from my window seat.
When the bus arrived at the station, I met my friend and we went out to have lunch. After leaving the restaurant, the weather unfortunately took a turn for the worse but that did not hinder our plans! We went to a very part of Kanazawa that is full of historical old buildings and the atmosphere was so relaxed. I literally felt like I stepped into a time machine and went to the past. We entered some of the buildings and were able to listen to someone speaking about the historical importance of the house. Thankfully my Japanese has improved a lot so I was able to understand a good portion of what was being talked about. There was a museum, gift shops, ninja houses and all sorts of interesting things we found. Before we left, we stopped at an ice cream shop and my friend ordered Tofu ice cream…I was not the biggest fan but she seemed to enjoy it.
The next day we went to a very famous Ninja house but because of how popular it is (especially during golden week), we had to make reservations weeks in advance. We arrived almost an hour early so we began walking down the street and saw a temple which cost 500 Yen per person to enter. In the temple we participated in incense burning and were taught the proper way to smell the incense. It was a very interesting half hour but for me it was a difficult to follow the conversations here. They were using a ton of words I had never heard before. Thankfully afterwards, my friend was my human translator! After arriving back at the Ninja house, we were able to go inside and wait for our tour guide of the house (by house I mean mansion like size). The tour guide only spoke Japanese but I understood a majority of what she said. This ninja house was seriously awesome. I wish I could have taken pictures but cameras were prohibited inside of the house. There were so many secret passage, trap doors, etc. It was truly fascinating how complex this house way. In our tour of the house there were probably 10 others including my friend and I. Everyone’s reactions to all of the secret passages and stories were great. The whole tour of the house only lasted around 20 minutes or so but it was one of my favorite parts of the whole trip to Kanazawa. After we left the ninja house, we started to make our way towards a very famous park. On the way to the park, we say something that resembled an out door festival so we thought we should check it out. There were a ton of stands for food, gifts, etc. live music and it was very crowded. We walked around this place for a while before heading off to the park. The Kanazawa park was extremely beautiful and it was massive. The weather was absolutely perfect with a slight breeze. I took a ton of pictures of the graden which I will be posting for everyone to see.  We probably spent close to two hours walking around the park. After exiting the park my friend saw a sign that said the Kanazawa castle was very close to the park so we decided to head in that direction. The castle was really nice. However, I think most of it has been renovated which took away some of the historical value for me. The courtyards were massive and everything was very well maintained. If you go to Kanazawa I definitely recommend you visit there. The one thing I liked about the castle the most was probably the garden. It was very traditional and quiet.1430923699895

Well, that is about it for this blog. I actually will be posting another blog later tonight about a very interesting event I was able to attend a few weeks ago. Be sure to check back later and I hope you all have a wonderful summer vacation!

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