Once inside you can see and feel exactly why the artist was so inspired to create here. A lovely place to wander and sit and soak it all in. Visitors are encouraged to enjoy the house, garden and kiln area at a leisurely pace. Read about the history of the house and Kawai Kanjiro himself, page through beautiful books and see many examples of Kanjiro san's work while you are there.
Thursday, September 27, 2012
Only Kyoto-ite Elsbeth could throw a b'day dinner ( or a leg for that matter!) like this. At the fabulous Alsace restaurant in the North-East of Kyoto city - perhaps the only French restaurant in Kyoto, make that the only restaurant in Kyoto, where you can order a roast leg of lamb - enough to satisfy any Aussie Ex-pat's cravings... ( of course that was in the cooler months.. I'm jumping back here a little - eating this meal during a Kyoto summer might well have ended us all)
I think the fewer words used here the better.... not hard to work out that a good time was had by all...
Thanks for inviting us Elsbeth!
Sunday, September 16, 2012
If you have just arrived and are looking for details to the Zenbu Zen competition - here's the LINK
Good luck! Gambatte!
Friday, September 14, 2012
In an attempt to escape Kyoto's increasingly insane heat in Early August we thought we would visit gorgeous Kanazawa. Had we known there would be a heatwave and it would feel every bit as hot and humid as Kyoto we might have chosen elsewhere. Like Lapland. Nevertheless it was a splendid break - due in part to booking an air conditioned hotel room so were able to sleep, icepack and fan free for a night. To actually sleep soundly... instead of what we had been experiencing for month or so prior (and post) - laying awake in an airless hotbox, dreading the night - broken only by momentary lapses of consciousness from exhaustion - to be woken briefly afterwards in pools of sweat where we would again lay awake craving real sleep until it was light enough to get up and officially start the day. Truly dire.
Kanazawa is a couple of hours west of Kyoto by direct train and costs about 6000 yen each way from Kyoto Station. Its a tourist friendly, well planned out, artful city with a famous and wonderful garden, Kenrokuen, at it's heart. You will find an old Samurai district and a couple of well preserved Geisha quarters lined with stunning machiya (shophouses) and kura (storehouses) etc and lots of gorgeous places to stop for tea and traditional sweets. Kanazawa people love their food almost as much as Kyoto folk and there is indeed some very fine fare to be had. More on that later. However, might I recommend you seek out the dark chocolate yokan in the Samurai area and the sweet ginger senbei nearby. Oh my.
There is a completely daggy part of town very much stuck in the 80's (when the "bubble" brought sudden growth) which houses some of the most ugly architecture known to man - but if you manage to avoid that pocket you will only see beauty in this city.
There is also a ninja house lurking somewhere - we didn't make it there this trip but from my childhood memory it was a lot of fun.
First stop after arriving was the 21st Century museum of Contemporary Art
- a stunning petri dish of a building which is certainly worth a visit for its circular design and internals - but do be careful not to knock yourself out on the edge of the fake swimming pool (like my partner did) - even if you are bleeding significantly you won't get much sympathy... or even a bandage - it will simply cause the security people to run around in figure 8's looking flustered. Which was almost worth the injury... Says she who bore no scar or concussion.
After a few hours recuperating in the hotel we were back wandering the nearby streets including Nagamachi - the lovely old Samurai area.
As the day grew long we happily kept strolling, fuelled by traditional sweets and plenty of cold water, for some time - over the Sai river to the nearest geisha quarter....
We stayed at Kanazawa Excel Tokyo hotel, in a rather average and very small room (and trust me, I am not one of those foreigners who complains about small rooms in Japan because I am very well versed in them - however this did feel a bit like we were shafted into the dodgy room - most obvious after we witnessed many other rooms on our floor during the cleaning process) but it is in an excellent location so we have to give it that. And, as someone was a little under the weather and still rather shaken we stayed in and ordered room service which was surprisingly good for a hotel of this standard. And also reasonably priced.
The following morning we headed straight for Kenrokuen. We were both keen to grab a coffee somewhere but it was early and we didn't like our chances. Lo and behold we walked by a restaurant and souvenier store where brilliant purple shiso leaves were drying in baskets out the front.
We stopped to admire them and chatted with the owner who then invited us into the restaurant for breakfast. I still don't know if they were actually ready to open but the entire menu was available to us at 8am.
We ended up having the most pleasant and unexpected experience - tucking into an egg donburi (ricebowl) and a simple bowl of noodles with tofu and fishcake accompanied by ume (plum) juice and friendly service in a stunning 2nd floor room all to ourselves. What a way to start the day.
Just to confirm - it is this very restaurant on the left - situated, with several other cafes and shops on the walking path that hosts the main entrance to Kenrokuen.
If you look carefully you might find these tins of crab and prawn "drops" for purchase (they've been selling them here for as long as I can remember) I THINK they are confectionary.... and although Kanazawa is famous for its seafood I decided to pass on that particular treat. As I have done every time I have visited Kanazawa in the past 28 years!
We finally made it into the garden but sadly couldn't last more than half an hour - the sun's rays were peircing us like lazer beams. Before we took our leave I managed to grab a few snaps in order to share Kenrokuen's beauty with you.
**Oh! hold up! before you view this stunning garden I would like to point out that I find it also incredibly beautiful in the snow and have in the past incorporated both Kanazawa and the stupendously well-preserved town of Takayama into the one blissful, whitewashed trip. I highly recommend getting to both these places if you have the opportunity. It is a 3-4 day getaway if you do it at a semi relaxed pace - and accessible from either Kyoto or Tokyo by train via Nagoya. Takayama is another of my favourite destinations in Japan. I was there a couple of years ago so will find some shots to share with you soon. Anyway - without further interruption - Kenrokuen...
Pouring with sweat and dehydrating faster than we could possibly top ourselves up with water we retreated to find somewhere cooler. Someone needed reviving with a sakura (cherry blossom) flavoured softcream.
These Kakigori on the right ( shaved ice sweets) certainly looked refreshing too... but I was still full from breakfast...
And we were about to pack our bags and head to lunch...
stay tuned for the next instalment... in Part two we visit a wonderful local restaurant and another Geisha quarter....