After spending 23 days in scenic Kyoto, Mrs. Selfish and I packed our bags and boarded a train for Kanazawa, a delightful city on the northern coast of Japan.
Kanazawa was home to the second most powerful clan in Japan during the Edo period and was one of the bigger cities to come out of World War II largely in tact. As a result, Kanazawa is a beautiful city with a number of historic buildings including: Kanazawa castle, the ninja temple, samurai houses, and a historic geisha district.
Kanazwa is also home to one of Japan’s three best landscaping gardens, and arguably some of the best sushi in Japan. While I’d like to tell you we went for the culture, the sushi played a large role in our decision making.
That is until I saw pictures of our ryokan.
The Yogetsu Inn – staying in an old Geisha House
Yogetsu sits in the middle of the historic Geisha Distrct of Kanazawa and was, in fact, a Geisha House.
Like many ryokan, Yogetsu is an inn where you take your shoes off at the front door and slip into communal slippers. We navigated the stairs and made our way to our room, which had a separate area for taking tea.
The room was fairly large (but hard to photograph), and had a great view of the street. Like many ryokan, the bathroom is communal.
Apparently in Japanese houses it’s customary for the family to draw one bath which everyone rinses off/soaks in after showering. Yogetsu also recently renovated their toilet, which is the latest in Japanese technology and comes complete with a self-raising toilet cover!
Mrs. Selfish and I had a great time at Yogetsu. If you’re interested in experiencing a ryokan and aren’t interested in kaseki meals (which can be quite expensive), Yogetsu is a complete steal at 5000 yen per person, per night. For an additional 600 yen a day per person, the innkeeper will also make you Japanese breakfast.
Breakfast also comes with rice, tea, and miso soup.
Booking Yogetsu proved to be a little difficult. Unfortunately, the innkeeper’s English is mainly limited to numbers, so you’ll need the help of a Japanese speaker to book over the phone. While this makes it a little inaccessible, it also adds to the charm of the inn, since you’re less likely to run into other non-Japanese patrons. There are only 3 rooms, so if you’re thinking of booking, book quick!
The Nomura Samurai House
Kanazawa is also known for its samurai district, which is located near the base of Kanazawa Castle. Mrs. Selfish and I paid a quick visit (and the 500 yen entry fee) to the Nomura Samurai House, which is a restored Samurai residence with a beautiful garden.
It was raining the day we went, which didn’t do much to deter the crowds so Mrs. Selfish and I quickly staked out seats on the second floor. Japanese gardens seem designed to maximize the soothing nature of rainfall, so our time in the Samurai House was a mesmerizing, atmospheric experience.
The Myoryuji Temple (Ninja Temple)
We paid a visit to the Myoryuji Temple last. The Myoryuji Temple is host to dozens of traps, secret passage ways, and hidden doors. Ironically, there were never any ninjas associated with the temple, but the name stuck due to the nature of the temple.
Though it’s a little hard to tell, the outside stairs in the picture above actually have a paper backing through which observers from the inside could see people walking up the steps and entering the Ninja Temple. This was just one of the dozens of defenses the temple had.
Unfortunately, the Ninja Temple is also defended from photographers, and we were not allowed to take any picture of the inside. All I can say is that at 1200 yen per person, the tour was totally worth it.
Tomorrow we’ll talk about Kanazawa’s amazing sushi.