I started my day with coffee at Curio Espresso and from there, I was on the move! The day would feature the cool city of Kanazawa during a West Coast morning and the evening would feature my old East Coast stomping grounds of Yokohama with a Baystars baseball game followed by beers at the Thrash Zone.
The coffee shop was cute and very English-friendly. I spoke with an Australian woman who was also leaving that day. She was quite nice and it’s always nice to have a companionable cup of coffee rather than silently sip, waiting for the caffeine to hit.
After coffee, I decided to get a seafood bowl (don) at Omicho Market, a large covered market with over 200 stalls, mostly groceries/food. Kanazawa is known as a foodie city and, since it’s on the coast, as a place with great seafood. After walking for a bit, I picked a restaurant that wasn’t super busy but looked like it had a few regulars. The breakfast was delicious and was similar to the delicious bowls I had in Hokkaido a few years back.
After my breakfast, I went to two shops. The first was Mari-ya with its incredible assortment of threaded goods. The most eye-catching are the kaga temari, embroidered handballs that are exquisite.
After Mari-ya, I went a few doors down to 大樋焼本家窯元・九代目大樋勘兵衛. I know. I’m sorry. What does that even say?!? Well, thanks to Google translate, I can tell you that it’s a shop of Otsuki Yakimoto and the ninth generation family potter Oiso Kanbei. I also remember this from the little handout I got but to summarize, this shop features a distinctive Kanazawa form where the vessels are hand-formed rather than on the wheel. I made some hand-formed pottery in second grade and, despite how well-loved my 10-lb Christmas ornament and super-ugly coffee mug are by my parents, these Japanese artisans are on a whole other level.
The woman inside was super-welcoming and had a handheld translator which didn’t work all that well but was a really thoughtful things to have. Once she saw that I was going to buy a few things, she offered to make me tea. They have a small open tea room in the back so it made for a unique shopping experience. After I bought my two cups and one bowl, she packaged it up beautifully, including a plastic cover over the paper bag since it was raining outside. Although the amount of packaging waste that results is eye-popping, it is also amazing how detail and contingency-oriented the process is.
Next, I went to the Oyama shrine. It has a really pretty garden, which was especially vivid due to the rain/sprinkles. There were a few school children groups so I got a few enthusiastic “Hellos!” from the daring.
Kenroku-en is considered one of the top three gardens in Japan and even though I had been there before, it seemed worth walking through it again.
Time was starting to run out so what’s the solution? A few more stops! I took the bus over to the Higashiyama Chaya district, which was absolutely beautiful. I only had time for a 15 minute walk, which was just enough to make me really go back for a more leisurely stay! If I hadn’t had to make the Baystars game, I definitely would have pushed off my return. But it was better than nothing and also a cool reminder that there’s always more to see.
I also stopped into the Fukumitsuya sake shop. The brewery is just outside of town and, if you plan things a little more ahead of time than I, you can make a reservation for a tour. Another thing for next time!
So, I was starting to cut it close. I decided to take a taxi so I could stop in Omicho one more time to buy a mochi panda t-shirt for SMS. I know, completely ridiculous. It was a lot busier around lunchtime, so it was fun to see it more bustling.
I actually got to the train station early and almost made a slightly faster train but, unfortunately, the train was only reserved seating and thanks to the guy in front of me who bumbled with his wallet for several minutes (seconds), I didn’t make a reservation in time. As a side note, it is a total pet peeve of mine when someone gets to the front of a really long line and then acts surprised when it’s time to pay, show a passport, etc. Get ready people! It makes everything go more smoothly!
Never fear! I caught the train I had originally planned on so I got to Yokohama on time. On the train, I enjoyed a delicious train bento that had a plastic insert explaining what all the little dishes were. Bonus!
After arriving in Shin-Yokohama, I hopped on the subway to the Baystars stadium. The were playing the Hanshin Tigers. Brady, Ricardo, LR, and I had the best time. We bought noisemakers bats, had some beers, and made friends with our neighbors. It was the best!
Afterwards, I brought Ricardo and Brady to The Thrash Zone, a small bar that specializes in IPAs and playing heavy metal vinyl. We had another beer, spoke to a few Americans (whaaaat? What are they doing there?), and then caught the train home back to Atsugi.