We are currently in Kyoto after 2 very rainy days in Kanazawa. Even though it rained very hard, we both carried traditional wood umbrellas supplied for us at the machiya house we stayed in. We got lots of praise for them from locals and, most importantly, they stood up well to the rain and the wind and we were able to go out and visit some gardens and museums. Museums were especially nice because they were warm and dry.
The first day we visited the D.T. Suzuki museum. It’s new construction, very modern architecture designed by the famous Japanese architect Yoshio Taniguchi, completed in July 2011. You are led on a route through the house where you learn about Sukuki’s life and work (he is famous for bringing Zen Buddhism to the west, lived from 1870-1966), where you experience beautiful gardens and a lovely and serene meditation room. Outside of the meditation room is a large inner courtyard pond made even more special with the hard rain falling into it.
After this we went to the Kanazawa Castle. It was originally built about 400 years ago but was destroyed by fire. There is one section that dates back 300 years but most of the structures are newly built based on the original plans and construction materials. Nice to be inside part of the time with the rain pounding down around us.
Rich Keefe (the husband of the woman, Kim Keefe, who arranged our stay in Kanazawa) gave us tickets to a participatory art installation at the 21st century museum. It was a really fun exhibit and another great thing to do indoors. Watching the kids was lots of fun. We also had a really good lunch there.
On our second day we braved the rain again and went to Kenrokuen Garden, which is famed for being one of the three great gardens of Japan. The rain made everything greener and more brilliant in some ways but we could only stay in it for so long. At one point the rain came down so hard that we slipped into a nearby tearoom (very lucky to be close to one at that moment) and got warm and dry. All of the Japanese were kneeling sitting which is something Kathie and I are completely unable to do. I think you have to do it every day from an early age for your knees, lower legs and feet to cooperate! Here’s one of the photos I took in the garden.
And here is a photo of Kathie with her lovely umbrella.
After Kenrokuen Garden we went to the Samurai House, also called Nomura-ki. The only reason we went here was to see the beautiful Japanese garden in the courtyard of this Nomura clan estate built during the Edo period, now turned into a museum.
And finally, this is a photo of the small garden at our machiya where we stayed. The home was lovely but challenging to those of us who have trouble sitting on the floor all of the time. We had pillows to sit on and futons to sleep on. The futons, even though they were somewhat thin, were surprisingly comfortable, though. We wish it hadn’t been raining so hard while we were there, we would have spend time walking through the neighborhood. Maybe another time!