Kanazawa

When planning our last trip to Japan, we were conflicted for a long time over whether we would go back to a city we visited last time and try to see more (Osaka or Kyoto) or visit a brand new place.  I browsed many of Tokyo's surrounding towns and prefectures and the ease of access and tourist activities right up our alley really made Kanazawa stand out.  A bullet train route from Tokyo to Kanazawa was just added in the last couple years, and it is famous for it's fall foliage and fish market (snow crab in particular in the winter months) so it was a perfect option for a November visit.  

One of the reasons we were deterred from returning to Kyoto was the slower transit system, relying more on buses which wasn't ideal for Sloane.  Obviously I wasn't thorough in my research because that was our primary mode of transport in Kanazawa and that was unfortunately the one downside of our visit there.  Unpredictable (relative to Japan, not Canada...) schedules and bus meltdowns were some of the greatest tests of our patience over the course of the trip.    

Fortunately, this struggle (which was totally toddler specific) was balanced by our peaceful and child-friendly Airbnb and the fact that Kanazawa is all charm.  I would go back in a heartbeat as there was so much there we left unexplored.  We just watched Anthony Bourdain's Parts Unknown episode which largely featured Kanazawa and that only emphasized to us how much more there is to be enjoyed.  

Our first stop was the Omi-cho fish market.  Kanzawa is on the Western coast of Japan and thus has access to a plethora of fresh seafood.  Colin graciously let me have a solo lunch as this was one part of the trip I was most looking forward to.  I awkwardly braved a mostly non-english speaking restaurant by myself and got a season fresh seafood bowl served over rice.  I wish I could eat this every day, the fish practically melted in my mouth and was so full of flavor!  Even the things I didn't expect to like (the texture of raw shrimp is not my favorite) was easy to eat.  And the crab, I tried to savour it as slowly as possible and it was still gone too soon.  While I ate, Sloane and Colin explored the market and tried their preferable version of crab in croquette form (crispy battered and fried).  This is definitely a place I would love to come back, sans kids, with more $$$.  

The fall colours were gorgeous.  The crisp red of the Japanese maple leaves against the dark clean streets was striking.  One rainy afternoon as we were walking to the modern art gallery we crossed this stunning avenue and spent quite a while playing in leaves and taking photos.  While cherry blossom season is the more popular time for tourists to visit Japan, I would also recommend autumn as a time to experience the incredible colours.  Locals know this and they have online resources which let you know when the autumn leaves are at their peak for viewing!

The 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art was next up for a rainy afternoon and it was such a great option for staying inside with a toddler.  The museum is a circular, wide open and brightly lit space which gave lots of freedom to explore both spaces that were filled with art and otherwise.  It was important for us to find places where we didn't have to say "No" to Sloane (since it felt like we had to do this SO MUCH everywhere else, it drove her crazy) and she was pretty free here.  She even found some other kids that she happily played with for quite a while. 

We got a day of sunshine when we went to Kenroku-en garden which allowed for gorgeous views of Kanazawa and another stunning display of the fall colours.  This park is a very popular tourist spot so Sloane wasn't able to be as free as she would have wished, but it was nice to have the space to walk around for a while.  We didn't visit many gardens last time we came to Japan, so it was great to be able to see the high value and work Japanese people put into the art of gardening. 

And finally, gold ice cream.  $10 for vanilla soft serve with a sheet of gold leaf that doesn't taste like anything.  But damn, it looks good.