Eat local: Ōmi-chō Market and Morimori Sushi, Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan

One of the 170 vendors in the famed Ōmi-chō Market, Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan, that has been supporting Kanazawa’s gastronomic culture since the middle of the 18th century

One of the 170 vendors in the famed Ōmi-chō Market, Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan, that has been supporting Kanazawa’s gastronomic culture since the middle of the 18th century

 

From our ship in the port, one day in Kanazawa we headed downtown mid-day and went to the famed Ōmi-chō Market where there is a dizzying array of local produce and fresh seafood.  We planned our time there so we could get a number at Morimori Sushi (restaurant) and shop while we waited for our turn to be seated (see below).  The market has directly supported Kanazawa’s gastronomic culture since the middle of the 18th century.  It has more than 170 vendors selling local delicacies, clothing, fruits, Kaga vegetables, seafood and meats.  Additionally, there are several restaurants and ramen shops within the market building.  We splurged at the market and bought some beautiful sliced wagy-like beef for a home cooked dinner in our apartment, with special local mushrooms and fresh vegetables.

 

An array of beautiful (and colorful) fresh produce at a vendor’s stall in Ōmi-chō Market, Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan

An array of beautiful (and colorful) fresh produce at a vendor’s stall in Ōmi-chō Market, Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan

 

Notice the packaging of these melons – quite special, with prices to match (US$18 to US$30, EACH!) -- Ōmi-chō Market, Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan

Notice the packaging of these melons – quite special, with prices to match (US$18 to US$30, EACH!) — Ōmi-chō Market, Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan

 

While you’re splurging, how about one crab for US$80? -- Ōmi-chō Market, Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan

While you’re splurging, how about one crab for US$80? — Ōmi-chō Market, Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan

 

Then there’s the wagyu-like beef slices, which are about US$40 per pound (it’s actually priced in Japanese Yen per kilogram (2.2 pounds)), Ōmi-chō Market, Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan

Then there’s the wagyu-like beef slices, which are about US$40 per pound (it’s actually priced in Japanese Yen per kilogram (2.2 pounds)), Ōmi-chō Market, Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan

 

We ended up paying about US7.50 for one of these special local mushrooms to accompany our lightly pan seared (in lard in a cast iron skillet) wagyu-like beef

We ended up paying about US7.50 for one of these special local mushrooms to accompany our lightly pan seared (in lard in a cast iron skillet) wagyu-like beef slices – it was quite different from button mushrooms and porcini and king mushrooms, and had a nice spiciness; Ōmi-chō Market, Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan

 

Morimori Sushi is Kanazawa’s most recommended conveyer-belt sushi restaurant, offering sushi of outstanding freshness; Ōmi-chō Market, Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan

Morimori Sushi is Kanazawa’s most recommended conveyer-belt sushi restaurant, offering sushi of outstanding freshness; Ōmi-chō Market, Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan – here the intrepid traveler is receiving a platter of specially ordered tuna (maguro and toro) for lunch

 

Morimori Sushi is Kanazawa’s most recommended conveyer-belt sushi restaurant, offering sushi of outstanding freshness.  We were forewarned that there is always a line to get in, so we arrived earlier than our desired luncheon time, put in our names, got a ticket with a number, and then shopped in Ōmi-chō market for a half hour before our turn came up to be seated at the counter.  In addition to selecting items from the conveyer belt, diners can (and we mostly did) order from an online iPad menu.

 

Tuna (five kinds, including toro (fatty tuna belly)) on a platter at Morimori Sushi, Ōmi-chō Market, Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan

Tuna (five kinds, including toro (fatty tuna belly)) on a platter at Morimori Sushi, Ōmi-chō Market, Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan

 

Delicious, sweet shrimp (ebi) sushi at Morimori Sushi, Ōmi-chō Market, Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan

Delicious, sweet shrimp (ebi) sushi at Morimori Sushi, Ōmi-chō Market, Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan

 

It has to be special when you pay US$23 for five nicely boxed apple pears at the Ōmi-chō Market, Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan

It has to be special when you pay US$23 for five nicely boxed apple pears at the Ōmi-chō Market, Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan

 

Local seafood delicacies and other prepared foods, including tofu; Ōmi-chō Market, Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan

Local seafood delicacies and other prepared foods, including tofu; Ōmi-chō Market, Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan

We saw only one sake store in all of Ōmi-chō Market, Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan

We saw only one sake store in all of Ōmi-chō Market, Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan

 

We returned to our favorite food vendor from our previous visit, selling yellowtail tataki and salmon tataki, which we had thoroughly enjoyed – this time we bought several (frozen and vacuum packed, so it travels well!); Ōmi-chō Market, Kanazawa

We returned to our favorite food vendor from our previous visit, selling yellowtail tataki and salmon tataki, which we had thoroughly enjoyed – this time we bought several (frozen and vacuum packed, so it travels well!); Ōmi-chō Market, Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan [Tataki is a Japanese food preparation method where the meat or fish is very briefly seared over a hot flame (or in a pan) and then thinly sliced and seasoned with ginger (ground or pounded) and served with soy sauce and garnishes, like sashimi.]

Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2019 by Richard C. Edwards. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.  Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.

 

Eat local: Otomezushi , Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan

The charming wooden exterior of the excellent (but hidden from street view) sushi restaurant, Otomezushi, Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan, where we enjoyed an outstanding luncheon

The charming wooden exterior of the excellent (but hidden from street view) sushi restaurant, Otomezushi, Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan, where we enjoyed an outstanding luncheon

 

After our self-guided walking tour of Kenrokuen Garden, we walked over to the Naga-machi (old samurai) neighborhood, where, with the guidance of Google maps, we were able to walk behind a fence along a hidden path by a hostel to find a jewel of a sushi restaurant, Otomezushi.  Luckily, we had made a reservation considerably in advance of our arrival in Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan, as the sushi counter has only eight coveted seats and the restaurant has just a few small tables in the adjacent small dining room.  We were greeted by a very friendly sushi chef behind the counter who spoke some English and made us feel right at home, leaving the menu selection (8 pieces of sushi for lunch, plus soup and beverages) up to him – omakase.  Our hour-plus luncheon turned out to be some of the best sushi we have ever eaten.  Back on the ship a little reading online brought us several critical reviews noting that Otomezushi is not only the best sushi restaurant in Kanazawa (a city of nearly 500,000), but is considered one of the best sushi restaurants in Japan.

 

We were mesmerized by the skills of the master sushi chef (we were seated at the center of the counter, giving us bulls-eye dead center seats for watching the preparation of all sushi for the restaurant over lunch), and, being surrounded by all Japanese diners, felt it would be inappropriate to photograph the individual servings of sushi.  The chef did agree to let me take a couple of photographs at the end of the meal.  Unfortunately, the photographs can’t fully convey how fresh the seafood was and the expertise of the chef in cutting and preparing the fish and seafood, rolling the rice, and then adding wasabi, sauces and garnishes to each individual piece of sushi.  Definitely the best uni we have ever eaten, and the toro (super fatty tuna) was right up there, too.  A fabulous experience (both the theater of watching all the preparations and the enjoyment of the superb sushi) – and we were very pleasantly surprised at how reasonable the total bill was.  Otomezushi gets our highest recommendation.

 

The master sushi chef preparing individual pieces of sushi – our seats were at the counter, right in front of the chef; Otomezushi, Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan

The master sushi chef preparing individual pieces of sushi – our seats were at the counter, right in front of the chef; Otomezushi, Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan

 

The chef’s sushi knife and a selection of fresh fish and prawns in the cooler at the preparation counter, viewed from our seats; Otomezushi, Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan

The chef’s sushi knife and a selection of fresh fish and prawns in the cooler at the preparation counter, viewed from our seats; Otomezushi, Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan

 

The master sushi chef preparing calamari by scoring the surface in several directions – it was amazingly tender; Otomezushi, Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan

The master sushi chef preparing calamari by scoring the surface in several directions – it was amazingly tender; Otomezushi, Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan

 

A broader view of the selection of fresh fish and seafood in the coolers at the preparation counter; Otomezushi, Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan

A broader view of the selection of fresh fish and seafood in the coolers at the preparation counter; Otomezushi, Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan

 

Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2019 by Richard C. Edwards. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.  Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.

 

Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan (2019)

Looking past the Kotojitoto Lantern across Kasumigaike Pond in the center of Kenrokuen Garden, considered to be one of the three great gardens of Japan in Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan

Looking past the Kotojitoto Lantern across Kasumigaike Pond in the center of Kenrokuen Garden, considered to be one of the three great gardens of Japan in Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan

 

Having thoroughly enjoyed our first visit to Kanazawa, Japan, on the north coast of Honshu Island (the island Tokyo is on), we were pleased that we had the opportunity for a return visit.  [See our 2017 posts: “Geisha District (Higashi-chaya-gai), Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan”, “Kanazawa Gardens, Honshu Island, Japan”, “Eat local: Sushi dinner (Kaiseki), Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan” and “Kanazawa shrines, Honshu Island, Japan”.]

Kanazawa (population 462,000) is a popular travel destination due to its preserved historical districts, world-class museums, Michelin-starred Japanese cuisine, and authentic teahouses.  Notwithstanding its popularity, the city has kept its intimate and welcoming personality.  Having escaped the ravages of World War II, the city kept several key historical attractions dating as far back as the Edo Period when it served as the seat of the Maeda Clan.  Our first stop was a return visit to the stunning Kenrokuen Garden adjacent to Kanazawa Castle Park in downtown Kanazawa.  On our way to a wonderful sushi lunch at Otomezushi in the Naga-machi neighborhood to the west, we walked by the innovative 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art and the museum and tea house (where they do a tea ceremony) at the Nomura Samurai House (which we toured on our previous visit to Kanazawa).  We concluded our walking tour in the afternoon with a very educational visit to the Kanawa Shinise Memorial Hall (museum) and a quick stop at the chocolate shop, Le Pon du Chocola Saint Nicholas — rare in Japan! — for some refreshments for the ride back to the port.

 

We came across this traditionally dressed woman taking part in a photography shoot in Kenrokuen Garden, Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan

We came across this traditionally dressed woman taking part in a photography shoot in Kenrokuen Garden, Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan

 

Kenrokuen Garden is considered to be one of the three great gardens of Japan.  Literally translated as “Garden of the Six Sublimities,” and 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.

 

The Omuro Pagoda resembles the pagoda in Kyoto’s Omuro Palace; Kenrokuen Garden, Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan

The Omuro Pagoda resembles the pagoda in Kyoto’s Omuro Palace; Kenrokuen Garden, Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan

 

One of several scenic flowing streams in Kenrokuen Garden, Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan

One of several scenic flowing streams in Kenrokuen Garden, Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan

 

A traditional lantern (contemporary outdoor light) in Kenrokuen Garden, Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan

A traditional lantern (contemporary outdoor light) in Kenrokuen Garden, Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan

 

Kenrokuen Garden, originally the outer garden of neighboring Kanazawa Castle, is located on the slope facing the castle.  The garden was developed in many stages over the centuries following its origins in the mid-1600s.  Over the years the pond was enlarged and some winding streams were added that harmonized with the garden.  The garden was opened to the public on May 7, 1874, when the domain system was abolished.  In the twentieth century, the garden was designated a National Site of Scenic Beauty and a National Site of Special Scenic Beauty.

 

This small house, “Uchihashitei”, was relocated to the Kenrokuen Garden from Renchitei Garden in 1874;p0 Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan

This small house, “Uchihashitei”, was relocated to the Kenrokuen Garden from Renchitei Garden in 1874;p0 Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan

 

Looking at Kasumigaike Pond from the western side of Kenrokuen Garden, Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan

Looking at Kasumigaike Pond from the western side of Kenrokuen Garden, Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan

 

The exterior walls of the Kanazawa Shinise Memorial Hall that houses a traditional medicine store called Nakaya Pharmacy, built after the 1579 store was donated to the City of Kanazawa by the descendents of the Kakaya family in 1987

The exterior walls of the Kanazawa Shinise Memorial Hall that houses a traditional medicine store called Nakaya Pharmacy, built after the 1579 store was donated to the City of Kanazawa by the descendents of the Kakaya family in 1987; Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan

 

The Nakaya Pharmacy in the Kanazawa Shinise Memorial Hall is a two-story wooden structure spanning 427.21 square meters (xx square feet).  The first floor consists of a mise-no-ma (storefront), an oe-no-ma (lounge), a tea ceremony room, a guest room, a study, and a drawing room.  Note that only the samurai and upper-class merchants could afford to build homes this large with space to accommodate a tea ceremony room.  On the second floor are exhibition rooms with displays on traditional townspeople’s culture [see the following photographs].

 

Beautiful colored Kaga Temari “handballs” suspended vertically to illustrate the skills of local women in designing and creating the traditional girls’ handballs; Kanazawa Shinise Memorial Hall, Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan

Beautiful colored Kaga Temari “handballs” suspended vertically to illustrate the skills of local women in designing and creating the traditional girls’ handballs; Kanazawa Shinise Memorial Hall, Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan

 

The story of the Kaga Temari handballs as noted in the Kanazawa Shinise Memorial Hall, Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan:  “Once upon a time, girls made their own handballs to play with.  In the Muromachi Period (~1336-1573), Temari handballs with expensive silk threads were popular, but only for girls of noble rank.  During the Edo Period (1603-1868), it finally spread to the masses with the progress of the cotton industry.  Girls must have competed with one another in trying to make new and beautiful designs.  In Kanazawa we have an old custom that a mother sends a handmade Temari to her daughter as an amulet for her upcoming nuptials.  Kaga Temari is now well known for its fine work and breathtaking design.

 

Large Kaga Temari “handballs” woven with silk threads on display at the Kanazawa Shinise Memorial Hall, Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan

Large Kaga Temari “handballs” woven with silk threads on display at the Kanazawa Shinise Memorial Hall, Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan

 

One room on the second floor in the exhibition space of Kanazawa Shinise Memorial Hall, Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan, contained a large display of packages wrapped with “ceremonial paper cords”

One room on the second floor in the exhibition space of Kanazawa Shinise Memorial Hall, Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan, contained a large display of packages wrapped with “ceremonial paper cords”, known in Japanese as mizuhiki-orikata

 

The story of “ceremonial paper cords”, known in Japanese as mizuhiki-orikata, as noted in the Kanazawa Shinise Memorial Hall, Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan:  “We are in the habit of tying beautiful cords on gifts, mizuhiki, when we send engagement gifts.  In Japan, mizuhiki is a sign of happiness.  In Kanazawa, mizuhiki became a traditional craft.  Special designs of Kaga-mizuhiki are ume blossom, pine tree, crane, tortoise, and more from colorful cords.  Kaga-mizuhiki has become a valued traditional craft in Japan.”  The mizuhiki-orikata on display in the museum were created by a Kanazawa-based company, Tsuda-Mizuhiki-Orikata, over 100 years old, following the style established by the founder Soukichi Tsuda.  The company is now run by fourth and fifth generation family members in Kanazawa.

 

Close up #1 of “ceremonial paper cords”, known in Japanese as mizuhiki-orikata, in the exhibition space of Kanazawa Shinise Memorial Hall, Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan

Close up #1 of “ceremonial paper cords”, known in Japanese as mizuhiki-orikata, in the exhibition space of Kanazawa Shinise Memorial Hall, Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan

 

Close up #2 of “ceremonial paper cords”, known in Japanese as mizuhiki-orikata, in the exhibition space of Kanazawa Shinise Memorial Hall, Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan

Close up #2 of “ceremonial paper cords”, known in Japanese as mizuhiki-orikata, in the exhibition space of Kanazawa Shinise Memorial Hall, Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan

 

After our museum visit, we walked through the Naga-michi neighborhood with samurai residences from the 1600s (Edo period) that still evoke the lifestyle of the feudal period; Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan

After our museum visit, we walked through the Naga-michi neighborhood with samurai residences from the 1600s (Edo period) that still evoke the lifestyle of the feudal period; Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan – the narrow alleys, earthen walls, and Nagaya-mon Gate all retain the appearance of ancient times

 

We came across three young women in traditional kimonos that were taking turns photographing each other on a bridge over a canal in the the Naga-michi neighborhood with samurai residences; Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan

We came across three young women in traditional kimonos that were taking turns photographing each other on a bridge over a canal in the the Naga-michi neighborhood with samurai residences; Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan

 

In keeping with the historical neighborhood, the city of Kanazawa did a terrific job building this washroom (WC, or bathroom-toilet) public facility to blend in with the samurai residences in the middle of the Naga-michi neighborhood; Kanazawa
In keeping with the historical neighborhood, the city of Kanazawa did a terrific job building this washroom (WC, or bathroom/toilet) public facility to blend in with the samurai residences in the middle of the Naga-michi neighborhood; Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan
Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2019 by Richard C. Edwards. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.  Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.

 

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

 

Geisha District (Higashi-chaya-gai), Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan

Higashiyama (street) is one of the main streets featuring well preserved and restored teahouses in the Eastern Geisha District (Higashi-chaya-gai), Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan

Higashiyama (street) is one of the main streets featuring well preserved and restored teahouses in the Eastern Geisha District (Higashi-chaya-gai), Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan

 

Kanazawa, on the northern shore of Japan’s “mainland” (Honshu Island), is blessed to have escaped the ravages of World War II.  The city of 460,000 boasts a number of important historical attractions, including remnants of the old castle town and the original Samurai and Chaya (entertainment) districts.  But it is its renowned garden, Kenroku-en, for which the city is most famous.  Literally translated as “Garden of the Six Sublimities,” Kenroku-en was built by the powerful Maeda clan in the 1600’s.  Kanazawa is also known for its frequent rain showers which we experienced each of the days we were visiting.

 

A rickshaw “driver” negotiates with a prospective passenger in the Eastern Geisha District (Higashi-chaya-gai), Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan

A rickshaw “driver” negotiates with a prospective passenger in the Eastern Geisha District (Higashi-chaya-gai), Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan

 

Across the Asano-gawa River from the Central District (including Kanazawa Castle Park and the famous Kenroku-en Garden), Higashi-chaya-gai, also known as the Higashi (East) Geisha District, is an enclave of narrow streets that was founded early during the 19th century for geisha to entertain wealthy patrons in teahouses.  The wood-slatted facades of the distinctive geisha houses have been romantically preserved.

 

An “address” sign on Higashiyama (street) in the Eastern Geisha District (Higashi-chaya-gai), Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan

An “address” sign on Higashiyama (street) in the Eastern Geisha District (Higashi-chaya-gai), Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan

 

“A chaya (literally teahouse) is an exclusive type of restaurant where guests are entertained by geisha who perform song and dance.  During the Edo Period, chaya were found in designated entertainment districts, usually just outside the city limits.  Kanazawa has three, well preserved chaya districts, Higashi Chayagai (Eastern Chaya District), Nishi Chayagai (Western Chaya District) and Kazuemachi.  Of the three districts, the Higashi Chaya District (東茶屋街, Higashi Chayagai) is the largest and by far the most interesting.  Two chaya, the Shima Teahouse and Kaikaro Teahouse, are open to the public.  Other buildings along the central street now house cafes and shops.  One of the shops, Hakuza, sells gold leaf products, a specialty of Kanazawa, and displays a tea ceremony room which is completely covered in gold leaf.” – www.japan-guide.com

 

The upstairs main entertainment room in the Ochaya Shima teahouse, dating to 1820 -- the oldest surviving original era teahouse in the Eastern Geisha District (Higashi-chaya-gai), Kanaza

The upstairs main entertainment room in the Ochaya Shima teahouse, dating to 1820 — the oldest surviving original era teahouse in the Eastern Geisha District (Higashi-chaya-gai), Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan; guests (men, only) sat on the floor, with the patron (paying for the geisha’s entertainment for the evening) sitting with his back to the painting, facing his guests

 

During the heyday of the teahouses, men from the upper circles of society enjoyed watching geishas perform many Japanese fine arts: the koto (a Japanese harp), the shamisen (a three-stringed instrument), dancing, yōkyoku (Noh songs), tea ceremony, tanka (31-syllable Japanese poems), and haikai (17-syllable verses) – each of which was expected to be a highly cultivated technique.

 

A view of the interior garden from one of the upstairs entertainment rooms at the Ochaya Shima teahouse, Eastern Geisha District (Higashi-chaya-gai), Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan

A view of the interior garden from one of the upstairs entertainment rooms at the Ochaya Shima teahouse, Eastern Geisha District (Higashi-chaya-gai), Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan

 

A second upstairs entertainment room in the Ochaya Shima teahouse, Eastern Geisha District (Higashi-chaya-gai), Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan; note the simplicity and beauty of the two

A second upstairs entertainment room in the Ochaya Shima teahouse, Eastern Geisha District (Higashi-chaya-gai), Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan; note the simplicity and beauty of the two decorations – a painting and flowers

 

The preserved working basement in the Ochaya Shima teahouse, Eastern Geisha District (Higashi-chaya-gai), Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan

The preserved working basement in the Ochaya Shima teahouse, Eastern Geisha District (Higashi-chaya-gai), Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan

 

A Torii (鳥居, literally bird abode) Gate marking the entrance to a Shinto Shrine, at the edge of the Eastern Geisha District (Higashi-chaya-gai), Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan

A Torii (鳥居, literally bird abode) Gate marking the entrance to a Shinto Shrine, at the edge of the Eastern Geisha District (Higashi-chaya-gai), Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan

 

Two young Japanese tourist girls who had rented (for the day) traditional kimonos (modern fabrics) walking through the Eastern Geisha District (Higashi-chaya-gai), Kanazawa, Honshu Islan

Two young Japanese tourist girls who had rented (for the day) traditional kimonos (modern fabrics) walking through the Eastern Geisha District (Higashi-chaya-gai), Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan

 

A typical wood-slatted facade of the distinctive teahouses in the Eastern Geisha District (Higashi-chaya-gai), Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan

A typical wood-slatted facade of the distinctive teahouses in the Eastern Geisha District (Higashi-chaya-gai), Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan

 

One of the shops on Higashiyama (street), Hakuza, sells gold leaf products, a specialty of Kanazawa, Eastern Geisha District (Higashi-chaya-gai), Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan; pictured

One of the shops on Higashiyama (street), Hakuza, sells gold leaf products, a specialty of Kanazawa, Eastern Geisha District (Higashi-chaya-gai), Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan; pictured here is gold leaf covered bread (sold for eating) – the store mostly features more traditional products such as jewelry, lacquer boxes and bowls, etc. that are covered with gold leaf

 

While most of the restored, typical wood-slatted teahouses today are not painted, this one was painted in a distinctive red color, Eastern Geisha District (Higashi-chaya-gai), Kanazawa,

While most of the restored, typical wood-slatted teahouses today are not painted, this one was painted in a distinctive red color, Eastern Geisha District (Higashi-chaya-gai), Kanazawa, Honshu Island, Japan