Kanazawa - Day 3

Woke up at 6. I decided I was going to use the hotel's onsen. I mean, it was the main reason why I had chosen the hotel in the first place.

I put my hair up, got my towel and went to the top floor. There were at least five or six ladies already in there. Walking around the locker room and in the bath. Not a lot of people, but I was still kind of disappointed. I felt like I was doing good to be there 10 minutes after opening.

I guess I can't beat old ladies at waking up early.

I cleaned up and got in the bath. It was really hot. Then I noticed the door to the outside bath. So I went out there. The old lady in the bath could only stand my presence for a minute and hopped out.

The sky was starting to change color. It was dark blue, and I could see the moon through the spaces in the bamboo slat privacy wall. I think that from the men's bath you could actually see the sunrise behind the mountains. I was a little jealous.

I went back inside and got back in to that bath. Then I decided to go in the sauna. At that point the bathing area and sauna were empty.

Not surprisingly, the sauna was also hot. So hot and humid that I had to put my wash cloth over my mouth to comfortably breathe in there. I flipped the egg timer that was attached to the wall over and sat down. There was a TV in the wall behind a sheet of plexiglass.

The news was on.

Apparently a local 50-something year-old-man had killed his 80-something year-old-mother. They said he had killed her because she'd told him that he needed to get a job and stop hanging around the house. I was kind of glad I was by myself. I started laughing. Not because of the situation, but because in Japanese the onomatopoeia for loafing around is "burabura." (pronounced, "boolah-boolah.") --bet you didn't even know that had a sound. It made me think of the song "Wooly Bully," though.

Went back to the room and called work. The phone rang for a long time before anyone answered. I was happy it was someone whose voice I recognized, but I still hate making phone calls in Japanese.

I told her I had forgotten my nenkyu (paid leave) form and that I couldn't come to school that day, being sure to sound very upset. She said that she would pass the word on.

It was stupid to have to take a vacation day, though. It's not like I was going to be doing anything but sit at my desk.

Set out for the day. Put my key in a thing that I think was the collection tube for room keys. Caught a taxi to the station.

The driver asked if I was alright on time.

"Hai."

A few minutes later he took out his phone, opened it and put it on the arm rest between the seats. There was a picture of a little boy on it. He told me that it was his son. He was cute. I asked what his name was. He told me, J-style, but I can't remember his last name, only that his first name was Ryota. He's an ichi nensei in elementary school. So I think that makes him about 8. He took the phone back at the stop light to bring up more pictures. He said that he was 51 and although he looked like a grandfather, he was really a dad. It was really sweet. Before I got out he said,"Cell phones with cameras are really great, aren't they?"

Put my stuff in a locker and got some hot cocoa, some kabocha bread and a kabocha donut (a green fried dough ball with pumpkin inside). Caught a bus down to the kenroku-en area. It's one of the "Top Three Gardens in Japan." I don't know what that means, and I don't know what the other two gardens are. On an unrelated note, the floors underneath the seats on the bus are made up of wooden boards.

Got off the bus and walked toward the giant, moss covered castle wall. Kept walking, trying to find an entrance. Walked down a path lined with different statues...all covered in bird shit. The best one was a girl leaning on an umbrella, looking up at the sky like, "Is it going to rain?" Her upturned face was covered in shit.

Got to the castle grounds.

I didn't want to pay to get inside the castle. Talked to a nice lady at the tourist information desk. Turns out her son got married and decided to live in Virginia. That's a little random.

Went to Kenroku-en and walked around. It was pretty, but I think an unusually snowless winter is a bad time to see it.

I came across a nearby shrine and looked at omamori (charms blessed by a priest/priestess). They had all the usuals: protection from traffic accidents, help passing exams, assurance of a safe birth, etc. But they had one I hadn't seen before. It was a charm to make your dreams come true. Why not? I got the green one.

Went to the Ishikawa Prefectural Museum. There were having a special nihonga show there. It was OK, but the artist seemed to only be interested in painting ponds and pine trees. The technique and materials were interesting, but that's about it.

Decided to head back to the station area for lunch before leaving out. I went to the Super Forus next to the station. It has to be five times bigger than the one in Himeji. On the top floor they had several resturants. Like an internal magnet, I magically found the El Torrito resturant. I really wanted chicken fajitas, but I couldn't justify paying $20 for fajitas (+ $2-3 extra for some tortillas). However, I did pay about $10 for a margarita grande and $7.80 for soft chicken tacos. When you have to go without for so long, sometimes paying that much is justified. I was a little disappointed, though. I mean, it's part of a chain, so it's be pretty hard to mess up. However, the food was a pale ghost of the stuff back home. I think they put the salsa in a blender because it was chunky pink lemonade.

I had a little time left over to get a last good look at the station. It seems to be in competition with Kyoto Station for the most impressive architecture.

The water fountain out front was neat too. It did the regular water fountain thing, but it also had a special sign in it. It would display the time and "Isn't Kanazawa great?" But the display is actually little sprays of water.

Caught the train back around 3:30. I had to make 2 connections and got back to my house around 10. Not really eventful, although when leaving I could see the Japanese Alps again and Haku-san (White Mountain). It's kind of a stupid name, but the moutains were absolutely amazing. Since it was kind of partly cloudy and the sun was starting to go down, the mountains in the front were kind of blue while Haku-san was bright pink.