Just as things were starting to defrost in Canada, we boarded a plane for a long, long flight from Toronto to Tokyo, to visit hubby’s family.
Spring is a great time to be in Japan. It’s not too cold, it’s just before the stifling heat of summer sets in, and everything is in full bloom. And, if you time it right, you can see all the cherry blossoms, and everyone out having fun at Hanami (cherry blossom viewing) parties.
We couldn’t have been luckier to arrive when we did, at the very start of the bloom, which meant that for the full two weeks, we saw cherry blossoms literally everywhere.
But by the time we left, the petals all began floating down, like snowflakes; a reminder that such incredible beauty is short lived, and to be enjoyed.
A few days after arriving in Tokyo, we took a drive to the northern side of Japan to the city of Kanazawa. One of the top sites there is the very impressive Kanazawa Castle, which has beautiful grounds and gardens, all of which were in full bloom.
Traffic and parking close to Kanazawa Castle is a bit of a nightmare, so if you can take public transport, it’s a good idea. From the main road below, it’s a short walk up a hill to get to the castle grounds. The hill was also lined with cherry blossoms.
All along the entrance path, there are souvenir shops, little cafes, and one of the iconic treats of Kanazawa — a glittering “gold leaf” ice cream, dipped in edible gold (which we did not try! but everyone else sure was.)
It was very crowded around the bridge, with lots of tourists (both local and domestic) trying to take pictures of the beautiful entrance gates.
Kanazawa Castle is lovely to stroll around, but it has been extensively restored, having survived wars, fires and earthquakes, and various levels of reconstruction. As a result, it doesn’t have an ‘old feel’, like you’ve stepped back in time. It is, nonetheless, very beautiful.
Next to the castle is Kanazawa’s second most famous site – Kenrokuen Gardens, which was voted as one of Japan’s three most beautiful landscape gardens. The gardens were carefully grown and styled over a period of 200 years, with ponds, fountains, bridges, walking paths, and lots and lots of cherry blossoms.
Kanazawa Castle and Kenrokuen should most definitely be combined in one trip, and if you can get there during sakura time, enjoy!