Toyama and Kanazawa


For spring break, I took a long weekend trip to Toyama (富山) and Kanazawa (金沢). These are neighboring cities along the Sea of Japan not too far north of Kyoto and Osaka. From Akita, they're directly accessible by the Nihonkai, a night train that runs the length of the Sea of Japan.


Cherry blossom season is a great time to travel Japan, but you need to be somewhat flexible, because the blossoms only last for maybe ten days, and until a month or so in advance, one cannot accurately predict when the blossoms will appear. As a consequence, for the most popular places, you book a hotel in advance, and for less popular places, you wait until your free weekend and get up and go. This is what I did, and it worked out reasonably well. Toyama isn't particularly famous, but as you can see from the pictures, the cherry blossoms there were in full bloom. The city has sidewalks set alongside canals lined with cherry blossoms, which works well for a leisurely stroll. Kanazawa is most famous for Higashi Chayamachi, a neighborhood with old wooden architecture. It also has a castle on a hill by a river. The castle itself isn't noteworthy, but the grounds are extensive and relaxing. Kanazawa is also famous for Kenrokuen, a park that is said to be exceptional (though apparently early April is a few weeks too early to get the full colors).

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