Thursday, February 15, 2007

Kanazawa road trip!

Bitten by the travel-bug again, I took advantage of the 3 day weekend and went on a road trip to Kanazawa with Becky, Leigh, and Jun, aka "The Girls".

Tojinbo Cliffs (popular suicide location and squid ice cream?!?), the winter white wonderland of the Shirakawa Valley with the "gassho- zukuri" houses (literally "hands in prayer" from the shape of the roofs); building my first snowman ever (!); eating international food (crepes, Italian, and German food); shopping like crazy monsters (spring transition meant tons of sales!); seeing the first beautiful spring blossoms at Kenrokuen (one of Japan's 3 most beautiful gardens); stopping at every Lawson's on the way to stock up on junk food, drinks, and snacks ("niku man"! yummy beef buns); Myoryuji / Ninja Temple (more on that below)...

Lows: Confusing and misleading highway signs; mean Kanazawans; paying too much for 4 people to be crammed into a small remote youth hostel room with no amenities and early curfew; having super low blood sugar and then finding out the Mexican restaurant was closed, then walking all over town to find that the French restaurant was also closed, and the "Thai Cafe" was actually a seedy girly bar, and finally finding a German restaurant with slow, awful service; not being able to take pictures inside the Ninja Temple.

All in all though, we had a good time...

More on Myoryuji Temple / Ninja-dera: The name of this place is a misnomer since it actually has nothing to do with ninjas (damn!). But, it basically has inspired me to become an architect again- it's got some damn cool tricks- underground passages, traps and defense mechanisms, hidden compartments, double sliding doors, etc.

One staircase is hidden by removable boards at a landing. However, since that area was often dark, the hidden staircase doubles as a pitfall.

The side walls in closets swing open to reveal narrow spiral stairs and there's even a room that is too short for anyone to unsheathe a sword, but has a curved ceiling to give the optical illusion that it doesn’t look small or feel claustrophobic.

The risers of the entrance stairs are made with paper and there is a little compartment underneath the staircase so defenders can hide and stab intruders with their spears as they enter (by judging where their shadows fall)!

29 staircases and 23 rooms are all expertly and neatly built into this seemingly 2-story building, but actually it's 4-stories with a 7-layer internal structure with middle floors and middle-middle floors and upper-middle floors...

They say it wasn't built by or for ninjas....


giuli said...

that whole shadow thing is so rad! seems like overall a better trip then not! i'm glad we got a hold of you before you left on your adventure. too bad about that whole delay thing. i have to get on the skype deal. happy mardi gras! pig gb

Paul said...

WOW, wonderful PHOTOS!!
the snow shots, the trees, the bridge, the blossoms. Incredible!

you look SOOO happy making your 2-3 ball snowman.