The Kaga Tour

Japan is very welcoming to foreign students. Well, I have never been a foreign student elsewhere, but I am sure in Kenya, we don’t give free passes to our National Parks and Heritage Sites to the foreign students there (or do we?), nor do we offer free tours to visit said places. We currently have student passes to visit parks and museums around Kanazawa City so we don’t have to pay any entrance fee.

This past Saturday, I was among a group of about 30 foreign students from various universities invited by the Ishikawa Prefecture Tourism Strategy Department International Exchange Division (I am not kidding) to visit the Kaga area. The schedule was sent like 2 weeks in advance to our emails, and later a printed schedule was also sent to our mailboxes.

This past Saturday was a beautiful autumn day. The day was warm, the sun shone brightly, the clouds stayed away. Perfect weather.

Kutani Ceramics Center

Kutani ceramics center

At the Kutani ceramics center

After assembling and beginning the journey from the station, the first stop was the Kutani ceramics center. Here, ceramic dishes and other objects are beautifully decorated/painted, after which they are fired up in modern kilns (although we were shown a traditional wooden kilns where temperatures could reach as high as 900deg Celcius). You will remember in the previous post, the artwork engraved into the tea bowls? We were given our own dishes to decorate, some brushes and some water paints. Yours truly was gifted many things, but art was never one of them. Un-originally, I painted our Kenyan flag colours.

The back of my dish

On the back of the dish is my current university name (Kanazawa University) and my name in Katakana, and the date. They will send us the dishes when they have been fired.

Here is the front of the dishes. No marks for guessing which one is mine!

The painted dishes

The painted dishes. I can even see Sponge Bob somewhere there!

And some guys are real artists:

Given a chance, would you have been this good?

Given a chance, would you have been this good?

From the ceramics center, we headed for an early lunch and the menu had been sent to us beforehand. I had a set of udon, and rice with pork cutlets and what-else on top. Nevertheless, it was totally delicious and despite it being 11:30am, I did not have a problem finishing it all.

Lunch was delicious

Lunch was delicious

Natadera Temple

This is an ancient (Indian-Buddhist?) temple built long ago and currently restored. It is surrounded by beautiful gardens and we had a chance to wander around. It was a beautiful day (I know I am repeating myself but it’s true) and although I couldn’t walk as much as I wanted (I injured my ankles exercising but that is a story for another day), I sat down on a park bench and enjoyed the autumn colours and the feel of the sun on my face. I was happy.

Below are some pictures from Natadera Temple and gardens.

We stand and stare in awe at the temple

We stand and stare in awe at the temple

The gardens surrounding the temple. Breathtaking.

The gardens surrounding the temple. Breathtaking.

Can you see the caves? I couldn't make my way up there due to the pain in both ankles but I was content with the view!

Can you see the caves? I couldn’t make my way up there due to the pain in both ankles but I was content with the view!

Serenity

Serenity

After about an hour at Natadera, we again got into the bus and drove to Yamanaka-bushi. This area is famed for its onsen but unfortunately we did not have time for even a quick dip. Which reminds, I recently went to an onsen (less of the hotspring variety, more of a public bath) and that is also a tale for another day.

Yamanaka-bushi and Kakusenkei Gorge

We walked the length of the beautiful gorge, about 800 meters, crossed it and walked along the other side until we could cross another bridge and complete the loop. The colours were so brilliant. The gorge, was gorgeous.

Tall trees with colour foliage dominated the landscape, and a beautiful river ran at the bottom of the gorge

Tall trees with colour foliage dominated the landscape, and a beautiful river ran at the bottom of the gorge

Tall trees with colour foliage dominated the landscape, and a beautiful river ran at the bottom of the gorge

Tall trees with colour foliage dominated the landscape, and a beautiful river ran at the bottom of the gorge

The beautiful river

The beautiful river

A beautiful street

A beautiful street

The beautiful bridge that signified the end of the walk

The beautiful bridge that signified the end of the walk

The view from the bridge down to the gorge below.

The view from the bridge down to the gorge below.

Back to Yamanaka-bushi. There was a folk dance and we were given free tickets to by performances by Yamanaka geishas.

Japanese dancing is not in the least like African dancing, I can surely confirm that. While we move to the rhythm of the drums, the Geisha dancing was more to the rhythm of the shamisen. The thumping of a West African drum would induce me to jump in and shake my body, the melancholic tune from the shamisen, coupled with a long day of walking, soothed me into an uncomfortable nap while upright in my chair. The graceful hand movements of the geishas and careful shuffling of feet added to this effect. The lights in the hall were of course, turned down low. Who can resist? The fight went out of me, and my eyelids drooped.

A geisha plays the shamisen

A geisha plays the shamisen. Image from wikipedia

The last act, was that of a mask dance. There was a tiger’s head and body, and this time I was awake throughout as it went through the motions of the dance. When it was done, I was surprised to find the masked ladies doing all the acrobatics were not as young as I thought. I am truly impressed and hope to be as flexible and fit when I am their age!

We couldn’t take photos during the performances, but we did take photos with the performers after. A beautiful evening and a good time was had by all.

The geishas take photos with the international students

The geishas take photos with the international students

At around 5:30 p.m., it was dusk and we got into the bus to start the short ride back to Kanazawa City.  I had a wonderful time.

There are many more pictures that I took, and other people took, but no time to share them all. There are a few more or less on my Instagram account.

This coming Saturday, I have yet another trip to make. Don’t miss out on the next post 🙂 Watch this space

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3 Responses to The Kaga Tour

  1. Mackel9 says:

    Japan is a breathtaking place to tour, I love the pictures, I can only imagine how the actual experience feels like…

    How tall are you Savvy? You are seemingly the shortest in that group photo at the Kutani ceramics centre. Now onto some more pressing matters, who is the lady on your left? Tell her I want to friend her! Excuse my French 🙂

    Looking forward to getting those contacts 😀

    Like

    • savvykenya says:

      You’re right Mackel9, the pictures cannot come close to the real experience.

      I never realized I was that short, 155cm to be precise! 5ft 1inch. And unfortunately, I don’t know the name of the lady, she is in a different class and we only met on the day of the tour 🙂 However, if we do meet again, I shall tell her about you, show her pictures of that 6 pack, ey? 😉

      Like

      • Mackel9 says:

        I will make a point to visit them one day. Eti you never realised? I take that to mean most of your friends are around 5ft then hehe. But that is okay for a lady… I will be forever indebted to you if you can pull those strings, sure go right ahead show her pictures of my six pack hahaha. How did you get a hold of them again?

        Like

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