Japan Trip – Day 4

Slideshow

The bus took us down the long winding valley we’d seen out our window to the railway station on the coast. We bought box lunches in one of the crowded little booths on the platform that offered  fresh food and paid the immaculately dressed  cashier about five dollars each. Anthony gave us a copy of the Japan Times.  The first page showed Nancy Pelosi and other jubilant Democratic party leaders parading in Washington under the headline, “health reform bill passes.”

As we stood in line at the place for our reserved seats, a superbullet train whizzed through the station at over 200 miles an hour, so quietly and quickly it seemed from another dimension.

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Our conventional Shinkasen (bullet train) took us the distance to Nagoya in less than an hour, where we switched to the non-bullet express heading north to Kanazawa. Passing through the grandiose station entry at our destination, we were driven by black-suited cabbies to the KKH hotel, located across the street from the castle wall and moat. I loved the design of that sleek but moderately priced “business hotel,’ its sharp right angles and clear wood surfaces echoing the  architecture of the ryokan, including a traditional garden in the courtyard.

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Maya led us on a walk downtown through narrow streets shared by bicycles and fast moving vehicles which seemed to have the right of way but  didn’t threaten pedestrians. The urban landscape was a hodgepodge of office buildings apartment blocks, old residences, stores, restaurants, warehouses, manufacturing facilities, Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines.

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Little gardens appeared everywhere, and when there was no room for them, rows of potted plants.  We made our way through an indoor market filled with brightly lighted stalls displaying vegetables, meat, fish, and sweets—arranged like the dishes at meals to appeal to the eye as much as to the taste.

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As the market closed at 5 p.m. we crossed a main thoroughfare and entered a mall of department stores packed with the elegant clothing and accessories worn by  everyone from students to executives.

Back at the hotel we were treated to a fine formal western-style dinner in the dining room.  We asked Maya if it would be possible to attend a Kabuki performance when we got to Kyoto, and she reserved us the cheapest seats for the  the last of the season’s, a production directed by  Ennosuki, a  legendary superstar.

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