On Thursday, April 4, 2019, it was to be an optional tour of Gokayama which was even further up into the mountains. By this time both Karen and I were getting tired and I certainly wasn’t used to or dressed for the cold. The activities on the optional tour sounded really fun, like making machi and traditional papermaking, I decided I really needed some downtime and wanted to sleep in. I am glad I made that decision because it was reported back that the temperatures where the tour went hit -5C. I rarely get that at home and certainly didn’t have the clothing for it.

Karen decided to join me on a day to ourselves and we both spent a very lazy morning in our hotel rooms catching up on reading, downloading pictures or whatever. It was raining outside and didn’t look that inviting anyhow. The free time also gave me the opportunity to use the free washing machine and dryer available at this hotel as by this time I was running out of clean clothes.

By noon the weather was clearing up and the temperature was actually starting to warm up a bit, so we ventured out to find some lunch. We found a great little restaurant in a shopping mall. After leaving the shopping mall we discovered that the sun was out in force and the weather had warmed up nicely so we decided to walk to Kanazawa Castle and tour the grounds.

Kanazawa Castle

Kanazawa Castle (金沢城 Kanazawa-jō) is a large, partially-restored castle in KanazawaIshikawa PrefectureJapan. It is located adjacent to the celebrated Kenroku-en Garden, which once formed the castle’s private outer garden. It was the headquarters of Kaga Domain, ruled by the Maeda clan for 14 generations from the Sengoku period until the coming of the Meiji Restoration in 1871.” Wikipedia

You couldn’t enter the castle however the grounds were extensive and the cherry blossoms had reached full bloom in one part of the grounds. We came across another wedding party having their photos done. We spent a lovely time just wandering and taking photos and then it was time to wander back to the hotel.

(don’t forget to click on the red arrow to see all of the pics including the wedding party, cherry trees in full bloom and one young girl walking accross an ancient bridge in kimono looking at her mobile phone lol)

Oyama Shrine

On our walk back to the hotel I spied an interesting entranceway with a really peaceful looking garden. We decided to go and investigate and came across what was Oyama Shrine. The shrine and grounds were large and really peaceful with only about 10 other people walking around. It was so lovely with the setting sun hitting part of the shrine making it glow.

(remember to click on the red arrow to see all of the pictures)

Home Visit

The next day we were heading to Kyoto but first OAT tours do something called a home visit where we are invited into someone’s home to have tea and to learn something about traditional Japanese life. Karen really wanted to do floor arranging and so after breakfast, we were sent by taxi to a lovely woman’s home where she taught Ikebana (Japanese flower arranging) at the Ohara School of Ikebana for many years.

Karen and I were given tea while we chatted (she spoke really good English) and she gave us a tour of her home and showed us photos of her award-winning arrangements. Karen and I both found this to be fascinating, she then taught us how to do an arrangement and then pulled it all apart and handed it to each one of us for us to recreate it. We actually didn’t do that bad!

Train to Kyoto

After the visit, we all met back up at the hotel and then walked over to the restaurant for lunch and from there caught the JR “thunderbird” #26 train to Kyoto.


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