Tokyo National Museum, Tokyo, Japan

The main entrance to the Tokyo National Museum, Tokyo, Japan, located in Ueno Park which was full of cherry blossoms during our visit [see our previous blog post, “Sakura (Cherry Bloss

The main entrance to the Tokyo National Museum, Tokyo, Japan, located in Ueno Park which was full of cherry blossoms during our visit [see our previous blog post, “Sakura (Cherry Blossoms), Tokyo, Japan”]

Japan’s oldest and largest museum, the acclaimed Tokyo National Museum houses an impressive assemblage of art and artifacts.  The unrivaled collection encompasses Asian paintings, calligraphy, sculpture, ceramics, arms and armor, textiles, and historical documents.  Each season the museum rotates its collection to feature art that pertains to the season.  Thus, during the Sakura (cherry blossom) season in March and April, the permanent collection of Japanese art and artifacts had many pieces focusing on the celebration of Sakura.

 

Designated as a National Treasure in 1953- “Merrymaking under Blossom Trees” by Kano Naganobu (1577-1654), color on paper (screen), Edo period, 17th century, Tokyo National Museum, T

Designated as a National Treasure in 1953: “Merrymaking under Blossom Trees” by Kano Naganobu (1577-1654), color on paper (screen), Edo period, 17th century, Tokyo National Museum, Tokyo, Japan

 

“Depicted on this… screen is a scene of [Sakura] cherry blossom viewing by people dressed in garments with the latest designs.  Whether it was intended to portray a particular event or setting is unclear.  The surrounding trees and curtains, however, create a dramatic effect in which the people performing a folk dance and the ladies watching them appear as though they were on a stage.” – Tokyo National Museum.  Note that the tradition of celebrating the arrival of spring Sakura (cherry blossoms) goes back a long time in Japanese history – we were fortunate to be in Tokyo for the height of this year’s cherry blossoms and to mingle with locals in appreciating the delicate blossoms signaling the end of winter and the new annual cycle.

“The Museum Garden behind the Honkan main building is open during the spring.  We invite you to enjoy strolling among the five teahouses, each with their own history, as well as the cherry blossoms, which about 10 varieties bloom from one to another.  The flourishing garden is most beautiful at this time of the year.” – www.tnm.jp    The Garden was full of cherry blossoms during our visit [see our previous blog post, “Sakura (Cherry Blossoms), Tokyo, Japan”, for several photographs of the Sakura in the Tokyo National Museum Garden].

 

Ichinotani Style Helmet, Iris leaf design, Azuchi-Momoyama-Edo period, 16th-17th century, Tokyo National Museum, Tokyo, Japan

Ichinotani Style Helmet, Iris leaf design, Azuchi-Momoyama-Edo period, 16th-17th century, Tokyo National Museum, Tokyo, Japan

 

Gusoku Type Armor with two-piece cuirass with dark blue lacing, Edo period, 17th-18th century, Tokyo National Museum, Tokyo, Japan

Gusoku Type Armor with two-piece cuirass with dark blue lacing, Edo period, 17th-18th century, Tokyo National Museum, Tokyo, Japan

 

“The Tokyo National Museum features one of the largest and best collections of art and archeological artifacts in Japan, made up of over 110,000 individual items including nearly a hundred national treasures.  At any one time, about 4,000 different items from the permanent museum collection are on display.  In addition, visiting temporary exhibitions are also held regularly.  The large museum complex is home to six separate buildings, each large enough to be considered a museum on its own, which specialize in different types of art and exhibitions.  The main Honkan building [which we focused on] was opened in 1938 and exhibits a variety of Japanese artwork from ancient times to the 19th century including antique Buddhist statues, painted sliding doors, scrolls, ceramics and maps in addition to cultural items such as masks, costume, armor and weapons among other historical artifacts.” – www.japan-guide.com

 

“Kanazawa, Musashi Province” by Kano Osanobu {Seisen_in} (1796-1846), color on silk, Edo period, 19th century, Tokyo National Museum, Tokyo, Japan

“Kanazawa, Musashi Province” by Kano Osanobu {Seisen’in} (1796-1846), color on silk, Edo period, 19th century, Tokyo National Museum, Tokyo, Japan

 

Primary Textbook for the Noble_s Children by Prince Hachijo-no-miya Toshihito (1579-1629), ink on decorated paper (SCROLL), Edo period, 17th century, Tokyo National Museum, Tokyo, Japa

Primary Textbook for the Noble’s Children by Prince Hachijo-no-miya Toshihito (1579-1629), ink on decorated paper (SCROLL), Edo period, 17th century, Tokyo National Museum, Tokyo, Japan; this spectacular section of the “textbook” features Mt. Fuji in the colored background, painted by the Prince before adding the text

 

Uchikake (Outer Garment, [like a kimono]), Tachibana and screen design on figured satin ground, Edo period, 19th century, Tokyo National Museum, Tokyo, Japan

Uchikake (Outer Garment, [like a kimono]), Tachibana and screen design on figured satin ground, Edo period, 19th century, Tokyo National Museum, Tokyo, Japan

Eat local: Inakaya (Roppongi East), Tokyo, Japan

The lead role in the drama of grilling our dinner at the robatayaki (a country-style grill) was one of the yakikata (“grill-persons”) who manned our grill and the counter piled with

The lead role in the drama of grilling our dinner at the robatayaki (a country-style grill) was one of the yakikata (“grill-persons”) who manned our grill and the counter piled with fresh ingredients, Inakaya (Roppongi East), Tokyo, Japan

 

We met some friends from San Francisco who frequently travel to Tokyo at their favorite casual restaurant in the capital city – Inakaya (Roppongi East).  “Putting an upmarket spin on the robatayaki (open-hearth) cooking beloved by Japanese fishermen, Inakaya serves succulent grilled seafood, meat and vegetables in a vibrant setting.  Much of the fun is in the presentation:  diners sit at a counter facing directly onto the open kitchen, and receive their food and drinks on wooden paddles that the staff pass directly over the grills.” – www.timeout.com

 

Grilled asparagus, Inakaya (Roppongi East), Tokyo, Japan

Grilled asparagus, Inakaya (Roppongi East), Tokyo, Japan

 

Altogether there were nine of us seated around two sides of the robata grill.  We picked out the various vegetables and proteins that we were interested in having grilled.  All of the ingredients were ultra fresh and extremely high quality – the grilling just brought out their natural flavors and heated them.  A superb dinner enhanced by sake and local beers.  As the evening wore on, the restaurant became noisier as the crowd shouted “hai” (yes) as the servers gave orders to the grill chefs (there are two sets of grills and surrounding seats) who resonded “hai” which was then repeated loudly by all of the patrons.  Good fun and great food.

 

Grilled shitake mushrooms, Inakaya (Roppongi East), Tokyo, Japan

Grilled shitake mushrooms, Inakaya (Roppongi East), Tokyo, Japan

 

The iridescent kuruma-ebi (tiger prawn) was skewered while it was still alive, then grilled at Inakaya (Roppongi East), Tokyo, Japan

The iridescent kuruma-ebi (tiger prawn) was skewered while it was still alive, then grilled at Inakaya (Roppongi East), Tokyo, Japan

 

Melt-in-your-mouth fresh grilled Japanese eggplant, Inakaya (Roppongi East), Tokyo, Japan

Melt-in-your-mouth fresh grilled Japanese eggplant, Inakaya (Roppongi East), Tokyo, Japan

 

Wonderful wagyu, succulent cubes of marbled Omi beef from Shiga, skewered, grilled and served with a dip of shoyu, garlic and fresh-grated wasabi root, Inakaya (Roppongi East), Tokyo, Ja

Wonderful wagyu, succulent cubes of marbled Omi beef from Shiga, skewered, grilled and served with a dip of shoyu, garlic and fresh-grated wasabi root, Inakaya (Roppongi East), Tokyo, Japan; our group had several orders, it was so delicious

 

Very simple in presentation, but the onion was almost sweet after grilling, Inakaya (Roppongi East), Tokyo, Japan

Very simple in presentation, but the onion was almost sweet after grilling, Inakaya (Roppongi East), Tokyo, Japan

 

Grilled crab legs, Inakaya (Roppongi East), Tokyo, Japan

Grilled crab legs, Inakaya (Roppongi East), Tokyo, Japan

 

Only available for about a month in the spring as new bamboo shoots sprout up, these grilled bamboo shoots were a special seasonal treat at Inakaya (Roppongi East), Tokyo, Japan

Only available for about a month in the spring as new bamboo shoots sprout up, these grilled bamboo shoots were a special seasonal treat at Inakaya (Roppongi East), Tokyo, Japan

 

Simplicity itself, but dessert was sweet and refreshing – orange slices -- at Inakaya (Roppongi East), Tokyo, Japan

Simplicity itself, but dessert was sweet and refreshing – orange slices — at Inakaya (Roppongi East), Tokyo, Japan

 

 

Sakura (Cherry Blossoms), Tokyo, Japan

Nakamise Street, lined with small souvenir and snack shops -- full of Sakura (Cherry Blossoms) -- leads to the second gate and the temple grounds at Senso-ji Temple (Buddhist), Tokyo, Ja

Nakamise Street, lined with small souvenir and snack shops — full of Sakura (Cherry Blossoms) — leads to the second gate and the temple grounds at Senso-ji Temple (Buddhist), Tokyo, Japan

 

We were extremely fortunate with the timing of our arrival in Tokyo – at the height of the Sakura (Cherry Blossoms) season, which is a really major time of celebration across Japan.  Springtime weather in Japan was very cool this year, delaying the arrival of the first cherry blossoms in Tokyo by several weeks from their typical mid-March appearance.  In the Japanese culture, the arrival of Sakura (Cherry Blossoms) signal the end of winter and the beginning of spring (a re-birth of the spirit as well as agricultural cycles).  The one- to two-week short life span of the delicate blossoms also reminds everyone of how fleeting life is and to maximize time with family and friends and the enjoyment of life.

 

Sakura (Cherry Blossoms) at Senso-ji Temple (Buddhist), Tokyo, Japan

Sakura (Cherry Blossoms) at Senso-ji Temple (Buddhist), Tokyo, Japan

 

Word has gotten out to the rest of the world about the ephemeral beauty of the short Sakura (Cherry Blossoms) season, so Japan (especially Tokyo and Kyoto, our next destination) get really crowded with foreigners and traveling Japanese in the spring.  The major parks and shrines and temples and streets with “Sakura (Cherry Blossoms) “spots” are jam packed (see out photographs, below).  This is such a big deal that Google maps highlights “Cherry Blossom Spots” on its detailed maps of Japan (this was very helpful to us!). It is a traditional custom to bring a picnic lunch or dinner and to gather with family and/or friends under the trees and to relax with some sake or beer and enjoy an al fresco meal under the Sakura (Cherry Blossoms).  The beauty of the season has been captured by Japanese painters for centuries and the major museums rotate their permanent exhibitions to feature paintings of Sakura (Cherry Blossoms) during this season.  Food and drink vendors annually come up with a new Sakura (Cherry Blossoms)-based version of an ice cream, confection, drink, etc. with big signage in the restaurants and stores featuring this year’s specialty.  After a few days we, too, came to both appreciate the short-lived beauty of the Sakura (Cherry Blossoms) and to understand the near-mania of the collective celebrations of this wonderful herald of spring.

Tokyo’s oldest Buddhist temple, Senso-ji, was completed in 645 and later reconstructed after being destroyed by air raids in 1945. Dedicated to Kannon, the Buddhist goddess of mercy, the temple is usually entered via the iconic Kaminarimon (thunder) Gate.  Nakamise Street, lined with small souvenir and snack shops, leads to the second gate and the temple grounds.  The temple’s pagoda is currently being renovated and covered by scaffolding, but it had only have a minor impact on visiting the site.

 

Groups gathered for picnic suppers under the Sakura (Cherry Blossoms) at Yoyogi Park adjacent to the Meiji Jingu Shrine in the Shibuya district, Tokyo, Japan

Groups gathered for picnic suppers under the Sakura (Cherry Blossoms) at Yoyogi Park adjacent to the Meiji Jingu Shrine in the Shibuya district, Tokyo, Japan

 

Sakura (Cherry Blossoms) at Yoyogi Park adjacent to the Meiji Jingu Shrine in the Shibuya district, Tokyo, Japan

Sakura (Cherry Blossoms) at Yoyogi Park adjacent to the Meiji Jingu Shrine in the Shibuya district, Tokyo, Japan

 

The Sakura (Cherry Blossoms) at the Tokyo National Museum Hyokeikan Garden in the Uenokoen district were a bonus to the traditional five elements in a Japanese garden – a pine tree, wa

The Sakura (Cherry Blossoms) at the Tokyo National Museum Hyokeikan Garden in the Uenokoen district were a bonus to the traditional five elements in a Japanese garden – a pine tree, water, rocks, moss, and a lantern; Tokyo, Japan

 

Sakura (Cherry Blossoms) #1 at Tokyo National Museum Hyokeikan Garden in the Uenokoen, Tokyo, Japan

Sakura (Cherry Blossoms) #1 at Tokyo National Museum Hyokeikan Garden in the Uenokoen, Tokyo, Japan

 

Sakura (Cherry Blossoms) #2 at Tokyo National Museum Hyokeikan Garden in the Uenokoen, Tokyo, Japan

Sakura (Cherry Blossoms) #2 at Tokyo National Museum Hyokeikan Garden in the Uenokoen, Tokyo, Japan

 

Sakura (Cherry Blossoms) #3 at Tokyo National Museum Hyokeikan Garden in the Uenokoen, Tokyo, Japan

Sakura (Cherry Blossoms) #3 at Tokyo National Museum Hyokeikan Garden in the Uenokoen, Tokyo, Japan

 

Late afternoon mobs of strollers enjoying the Sakura (Cherry Blossoms) at Ueno Park in the Uenokoen district, Tokyo, Japan

Late afternoon mobs of strollers enjoying the Sakura (Cherry Blossoms) at Ueno Park in the Uenokoen district, Tokyo, Japan

 

Clusters of Sakura (Cherry Blossoms) on a cherry tree at Ueno Park in the Uenokoen district, Tokyo, Japan

Clusters of Sakura (Cherry Blossoms) on a cherry tree at Ueno Park in the Uenokoen district, Tokyo, Japan

 

Groups gathered for picnic suppers under the Sakura (Cherry Blossoms) at Ueno Park in the Uenokoen district, Tokyo, Japan

Groups gathered for picnic suppers under the Sakura (Cherry Blossoms) at Ueno Park in the Uenokoen district, Tokyo, Japan

 

Sakura (Cherry Blossoms) in the gardens of Ueno Park in the Uenokoen district in central Tokyo, Japan

Sakura (Cherry Blossoms) in the gardens of Ueno Park in the Uenokoen district in central Tokyo, Japan

 

Hakodate, Hokkaido Island, Japan

Panorama of Hakodate, Hokkaido Island, Japan, taken from the top of Mt. Hakodate -- renowned for its view of the surrounding bay and city -- that we climbed early in the morning on the o

Panorama of Hakodate, Hokkaido Island, Japan, taken from the top of Mt. Hakodate — renowned for its view of the surrounding bay and city — that we climbed early in the morning on the one clear day of our visit

 

Sprawled across the southern tip of Hokkaido prefecture’s peninsula, Hakodate was one of the first ports to open up to foreign trade after the end of Japan’s era of isolation.  Traders moved in and foreign influences are still visible in constructions such as the Russian Orthodox Church, the Chinese Memorial Hall, and the Old British Consulate.  Western-style homes from that era mark the Motomachi District, located at the foot of wooded Mount Hakodate.  The top of the mountain entices with spectacular views of town, especially on clear days and in the evenings.  Japan’s first Western-style fortress, star-shaped Fort Goryokakucho (now known as Goryokaku Park), is a popular spot during cherry blossom time.  The morning market near the city’s main station is a great place to explore for fresh produce and a variety of seafood such as sea urchin, salmon eggs and crabs.

 

The trail up Mt. Hakadote (1,096 feet - 334 meters high) in early April was covered with snow on the third of the trail that was shaded, Hakodate, Hokkaido Island, Japan

The trail up Mt. Hakodate (1,096 feet / 334 meters high) in early April was covered with snow on the third of the trail that was shaded, Hakodate, Hokkaido Island, Japan

 

A view of the west bay from Mt. Hakadote with our ship docked (mid-left, above the large, red, right-hand crane in the foreground), Hakodate, Hokkaido Island, Japan; note the snow on the

A view of the west bay from Mt. Hakodate with our ship docked (mid-left, above the large, red, right-hand crane in the foreground), Hakodate, Hokkaido Island, Japan; note the snow on the mountains surrounding the city

 

Two red Torii gates in front of miniature Shinto shrines on the hillside below Mt. Hakodate, Hakodate, Hokkaido Island, Japan

Two red Torii gates in front of miniature Shinto shrines on the hillside below Mt. Hakodate, Hakodate, Hokkaido Island, Japan

 

The Hakodate Orthodox Church was founded by the Russian Consulate in 1859 with the existing church, adorned with distinctive copper domes and spires, dating back to 1916; Hakodate, Hokka

The Hakodate Orthodox Church was founded by the Russian Consulate in 1859 with the existing church, adorned with distinctive copper domes and spires, dating back to 1916; Hakodate, Hokkaido Island, Japan

 

A panorama of the Old Public Hall of Hakodate Ward -- a beautiful example of colonial-style architecture from 1910; the majestic main hall and rooms are reserved for special guests such

A panorama of the Old Public Hall of Hakodate Ward — a beautiful example of colonial-style architecture from 1910; the majestic main hall and rooms are reserved for special guests such as members of the imperial family and the emperor; Hakodate, Hokkaido Island, Japan

 

The view from The Old Public Hall of Hakodate Ward‘s main hall_s balcony, Hakodate, Hokkaido Island, Japan

The view from The Old Public Hall of Hakodate Ward‘s main hall’s balcony, Hakodate, Hokkaido Island, Japan

 

The colorful inside of one of Hakodate, Hokkaido Island, Japan_s main retail seafood, fish and food stores

The colorful inside of one of Hakodate, Hokkaido Island, Japan’s main retail seafood, fish and food stores

 

At the morning market, giant local crabs for sale were alive and trying to climb out of their outdoor tanks, Hakodate, Hokkaido Island, Japan; later for lunch at Gaya Restaurant we had a

At the morning market, giant local crabs for sale were alive and trying to climb out of their outdoor tanks, Hakodate, Hokkaido Island, Japan; later for lunch at Gaya Restaurant we had a cooked crab leg that was around 24 inches (61 cm) long and delicious

 

These sweet and quite tasty “hairy crabs” are very popular in Hakodate, Hokkaido Island, Japan; a medium size crab sells for approximately US$40 and a larger crab can go for as much

These sweet and quite tasty “hairy crabs” are very popular in Hakodate, Hokkaido Island, Japan; a medium size crab sells for approximately US$40 and a larger crab can go for as much as US$70 to US$90!

 

A panorama of Goryokaku Fort taken from the top of the modern, concrete Goryokaku Tower; the pentagon-style citadel was Japan_s first Western-style fort and the site is now home to an

A panorama of Goryokaku Fort taken from the top of the modern, concrete Goryokaku Tower; the pentagon-style citadel was Japan’s first Western-style fort and the site is now home to an urban park, Hakodate, Hokkaido Island, Japan; in about a month the 1,600 cherry trees planted in the fort during the Taisho era will come into full bloom

 

Sunset on our last evening in Hakodate, Hokkaido Island, Japan, before sailing south to Honshu Island for our next port, Tokyo

Sunset on our last evening in Hakodate, Hokkaido Island, Japan, before sailing south to Honshu Island for our next port, Tokyo

 

Kanazawa shrines, Honshu Island, Japan

Visitors coming in (uphill) from the Kenroku-en garden or Kanazawa Castle first see this pond and its alluring wooden walkways and footbridge, Oyama Jinja Shrine, Kanazawa, Honshu Island

Visitors coming in (uphill) from the Kenroku-en garden or Kanazawa Castle first see this pond and its alluring wooden walkways and footbridge, Oyama Jinja Shrine, Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan

 

As one of the most well-preserved Edo-period cities in the country, Kanazawa is a destination rich in history and culture. Because its culture, architecture, food and ambience are very similar to Kyoto, it is also known as “little Kyoto” to the Japanese.

 

The main gate, constructed in 1875, is a peculiar mix of traditional Japanese, Chinese and European religious architectural elements, Oyama Jinja Shrine, Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan

The main gate, constructed in 1875, is a peculiar mix of traditional Japanese, Chinese and European religious architectural elements, Oyama Jinja Shrine, Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan

 

The main shrine building, Oyama Jinja Shrine, Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan

The main shrine building, Oyama Jinja Shrine, Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan

 

“Oyama Shrine (尾山神社 Oyama-jinja) is a Shinto Shrine in Kanazawa, Ishikawa, Japan. The shrine was established in 1599 in Utatsuyama (卯辰山), east of Kanazawa. It was moved to its present location in 1873 and renamed to Oyama-jinja. The main gate was constructed in 1875. This gate is a peculiar mix of traditional Japanese, Chinese and European religious architectural elements. The gate is 25 metres (82 feet) high including the lightning rod. The third floor is particular famous for its Dutch stained-glass windows. It is said that the third floor was also used as a lighthouse. The gate was designated an Important Cultural Asset on August 29, 1950.” — Wikipedia

 

One of a pair of Japanese temple guard “lions” by the main gate, with cherry blossoms beginning to bloom, Oyama Jinja Shrine, Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan

One of a pair of Japanese temple guard “lions” by the main gate, with cherry blossoms beginning to bloom, Oyama Jinja Shrine, Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan

 

A Torii Gate (which separates the sacred from the secular grounds) seen from the outside of the Ozaki Shrine, Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan

A Torii Gate (which separates the sacred from the secular grounds) seen from the outside of the Ozaki Shrine, Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan

 

“Ozaki Shrine (尾崎神社) is one of the beautiful shrines that has many old buildings. It is located in Kanazawa, Ishikawa prefecture. It was built in Kitanomaru, a part of Kanazawa castle. Most of the buildings are constructed in 1643 and registered as the cultural important assets.” – http://www.mustlovejapan.com

 

The Torii Gate at the entrance to Ozaki Shrine, Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan

The Torii Gate at the entrance to Ozaki Shrine, Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan

 

The main shrine building, Ozaki Shrine, Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan

The main shrine building, Ozaki Shrine, Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan

 

Third generation sushi chef and owner, Kazuhisa Yoshida, at Sentori-Sushi (restaurant) with his father, Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan; we had a truly outstanding sushi lunch at the coun

Third generation sushi chef and owner, Kazuhisa Yoshida, at Sentori-Sushi (restaurant) with his father, Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan; we had a truly outstanding sushi lunch at the counter (there is no table service) with some fish new to us, such as trumpetfish (yes, the same fish that I had photographed underwater in Vanuatu only a month before)

 

Contemporary building and reflection, downtown Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan

Contemporary building and reflection, downtown Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan

 

Local dancers and flag bearers gave us a rousing sendoff performance for the last half-hour at the pier – great enthusiasm and exciting music, Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan; the warm

Local dancers and flag bearers gave us a rousing sendoff performance for the last half-hour at the pier – great enthusiasm and exciting music, Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan; the warm welcome by people all over the city was appreciated by all of us and we collectively look forward to our next visit

 

Eat local: Sushi dinner (Kaiseki), Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan

Our group enjoyed an outstanding nine-course Kaiseki dinner with special pairings of sake made by the top sake producer in the Kanazawa region, Kaiseki (sushi dinner), Kanazawa, Honshu I

Our group enjoyed an outstanding nine-course Kaiseki dinner with special pairings of sake made by the top sake producer in the Kanazawa region, Kaiseki (sushi dinner), Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan

 

One of the highlights of our visit to Kanazawa on the “mainland of Japan” (Honshu Island) was the opportunity for a group of about 30 of us from the ship to gather at a local restaurant near the city’s Eastern Geisha District (Higashi-chaya-gai) for an outstanding nine-course Kaiseki dinner with special pairings of sake made by the top sake producer in the Kanazawa region.  We were hosted by the owner of the restaurant and the sake master who explained (via our translator) each of the special sakes we had paired with courses of our dinner.

 

Each place setting was a lacquered tray with chopsticks, sake glasses and water; Kaiseki (sushi dinner), Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan; each course was served on the tray with refills o

Each place setting was a lacquered tray with chopsticks, sake glasses and water; Kaiseki (sushi dinner), Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan; each course was served on the tray with refills of sake

 

Kaiseki (懐石) is a traditional multi-course Japanese dinner.  The term also refers to the collection of skills and techniques that allow the preparation of such meals, and is analogous to Western haute cuisine…  In the present day, kaiseki is a type of art form that balances the taste, texture, appearance, and colors of food.  To this end, only fresh seasonal ingredients are used and are prepared in ways that aim to enhance their flavor.  Local ingredients are often included as well.  Finished dishes are carefully presented on plates that are chosen to enhance both the appearance and the seasonal theme of the meal.  Dishes are beautifully arranged and garnished, often with real leaves and flowers, as well as edible garnishes designed to resemble natural plants and animals…  Kaiseki consists of a sequence of dishes, each often small and artistically arranged…  Originally, kaiseki comprised a bowl of miso soup and three side dishes; this is now instead the standard form of Japanese-style cuisine generally, referred to as a セット (setto, “set”).  Kaiseki has since evolved to include an appetizer, sashimi, a simmered dish, a grilled dish, and a steamed course.” — Wikipedia

 

Your blogger_s first course, “Japanese citrus with several clams, Urchin, Salmon roe” was served without the Japanese citrus (grapefruit) shown in the first photograph, Kaiseki (su

Your blogger’s first course, “Japanese citrus with several clams, Urchin, Salmon roe” was served without the Japanese citrus (grapefruit) shown in the first photograph, Kaiseki (sushi dinner), Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan

 

“Steamed sea bass” wrapped in a leaf, Kaiseki (sushi dinner), Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan

“Steamed sea bass” wrapped in a leaf, Kaiseki (sushi dinner), Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan

 

A close up of the “Steamed sea bass”, Kaiseki (sushi dinner), Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan

A close up of the “Steamed sea bass”, Kaiseki (sushi dinner), Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan

 

“Clam soup”, Kaiseki (sushi dinner), Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan

“Clam soup”, Kaiseki (sushi dinner), Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan

 

A complex course with a number of ingredients – “White meat fish, squid, tuna, Bottan shrimp pickled Chinese wine”, Kaiseki (sushi dinner), Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan

A complex course with a number of ingredients – “White meat fish, squid, tuna, Bottan shrimp pickled Chinese wine”, Kaiseki (sushi dinner), Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan

 

“Conger Eel and fresh bamboo shoot”, Kaiseki (sushi dinner), Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan

“Conger Eel and fresh bamboo shoot”, Kaiseki (sushi dinner), Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan

 

“Globefish jerry, sesame seed tofu, Crab sushi, sillago with urchin; Fried wild vegetable”, Kaiseki (sushi dinner), Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan

“Globefish jerry, sesame seed tofu, Crab sushi, sillago with urchin; Fried wild vegetable”, Kaiseki (sushi dinner), Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan

 

Our fourth sake, paired with warm dishes, was Juku-Shu [Momotose] Gonenn – “As the name of JUKU-SHU, this type has deep rich aroma and flavor taste. This kind is mostly made like a

Our fourth sake, paired with warm dishes, was Juku-Shu [Momotose] Gonenn – “As the name of JUKU-SHU, this type has deep rich aroma and flavor taste. This kind is mostly made like a wine leave while after finish all the process. That makes the taste more deep.”, Kaiseki (sushi dinner), Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan; the sake maker noted that the sake was aged for 5 years in French oak, very unusual for sake (it tasted akin to a sherry)

“Jibuni, Duck with lily bulb, Japanese parsley”, Kaiseki (sushi dinner), Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan

“Jibuni, Duck with lily bulb, Japanese parsley”, Kaiseki (sushi dinner), Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan

 

“Steamed rice with small fish [whitebait]”, Kaiseki (sushi dinner), Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan

“Steamed rice with small fish [whitebait]”, Kaiseki (sushi dinner), Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan

A close up of “Steamed rice with small fish [whitebait]”, Kaiseki (sushi dinner), Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan

A close up of “Steamed rice with small fish [whitebait]”, Kaiseki (sushi dinner), Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan

“Bracken starch with white strawberry [and red strawberries]”, Kaiseki (sushi dinner), Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan

“Bracken starch with white strawberry [and red strawberries]”, Kaiseki (sushi dinner), Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan

The view of the walkway through the property as we headed back to the Eastern Geisha District (Higashi-chaya-gai) to catch our van for our return to our ship, Kaiseki (sushi dinner), Kan

The view of the walkway through the property as we headed back to the Eastern Geisha District (Higashi-chaya-gai) to catch our van for our return to our ship, Kaiseki (sushi dinner), Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan

 

The view of Kanazawa from the property on the hill, as we left after dinner -- Kaiseki (sushi dinner), Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan

The view of Kanazawa from the property on the hill, as we left after dinner — Kaiseki (sushi dinner), Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan

 

Kanazawa Gardens, Honshu Island, Japan

Considered to be one of the three great gardens of Japan, Kenroku-en, Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan, was built during the Edo-period by the powerful Maeda clan in the 1600_s

Considered to be one of the three great gardens of Japan, Kenroku-en, Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan, was built during the Edo-period by the powerful Maeda clan in the 1600’s

 

Kanazawa, on the northern shore of Japan’s “mainland” (Honshu Island), is renowned for its garden, Kenroku-en, considered to be one of the three great gardens of Japan.  Literally translated as “Garden of the Six Sublimities,” Kenroku-en was built by the powerful Maeda clan in the 1600’s.  Rated as one of Japan’s top gardens, this Edo-period haven, built by the powerful Maeda clan in the 1600’s, takes its name from kenroku (combined six), referring to the six garden attributes needed to achieve perfection: seclusion, spaciousness, artificiality, antiquity, abundant water, and desirable views.  During the winter months, branches are suspended with ropes from a post at the center of each tree to form elegant conical shapes, protecting them from Kanazawa’s heavy snowfall.

 

Pine trees are symbolically important in Japan and are often supported by wooden poles, as shown, Kenroku-en, Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan

Pine trees are symbolically important in Japan and are often supported by wooden poles, as shown, Kenroku-en, Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan

 

Flowing water in the gardens was a major engineering accomplishment in the 1600s and the streams, ponds and lakes in Kenroku-en, Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan, are an integral part of t

Flowing water in the gardens was a major engineering accomplishment in the 1600s and the streams, ponds and lakes in Kenroku-en, Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan, are an integral part of the overall garden design

 

Three young Japanese girls in their rented kimonos were touring Kenroku-en garden, Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan

Three young Japanese girls in their rented kimonos were touring Kenroku-en garden, Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan

 

Although technically spring (by the calendar), the weather was not warm enough for most flowers to start budding and blooming, Kenroku-en, Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan

Although technically spring (by the calendar), the weather was not warm enough for most flowers to start budding and blooming, Kenroku-en, Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan

 

A few of the rare flowers this spring were in the plum garden section of Kenroku-en, Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan

A few of the rare flowers this spring were in the plum garden section of Kenroku-en, Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan

 

Kanazawa Castle viewed from Kenroku-en, Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan

Kanazawa Castle viewed from Kenroku-en, Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan

 

The Nomura Samurai House offers insight into the lives of the highest ranking samurai during the Edo Period.  Occupied for 11 generations by the Nomura family, this traditional home features a drawing room made of Japanese cypress, and shoji screens painted with impressive landscapes.  Personal effects of the Nomura family are displayed including a samurai outfit, swords, lacquer pieces, and the family altar.  The tea ceremony is a highly recommended activity and takes place in one of the upper rooms overlooking a picturesque garden complete with a waterfall and stone lanterns.

 

This private garden with a small pond on the grounds of Nomura Samurai House, Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan, was strategically positioned so that it was visible from many rooms of the h

This private garden with a small pond on the grounds of Nomura Samurai House, Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan, was strategically positioned so that it was visible from many rooms of the house