Kanazawa - my new home

Kanazawa (金沢) is the capital of Ishikawa prefecture (石川県), situated at the west coast of Japan. In other words, from Tokyo (the capital) it's about 300 km to the west and 100 km to the north, and to get there one must also cross a line of mountains called "The Japanese Alps". This page will be evolving as I discover new things in the region.

NOTE: I have a separate page for Kenrokuen, the famous park in the center of Kanazawa.
Kanazawa viewed from the Utatsuyama mountain. Kanazawa has about 450 000 inhabitants which may be relatively big from a Finnish point of view, but in Japan it's only number 31 on the list of largest cities. From the mainland it is surrounded by hills and mountains. This view is from Utatsuyama (卯辰山) which is quite close to the Kakuma campus where I live.
Kanazawa University International House In Kanazawa University, all short-term (up to one year) exchange students are placed by default in a special dormitory called Kanazawa University International House, or kokusaikouryuukaikan (国際交流会館) if you prefer the Japanese term. The Kakuma campus is about 6 kilometers away from the center in a rather quiet area: there are more trees than buildings around. Grasshoppers are louder than the noise from the road, at least during night time.
My dormitory room Each room is 14 m^2 in size which includes a tiny bathroom and a kitchen, and behind the window you can see the balcony. There are a few funny things: to get warm water one has to start the heater from a wall panel in advance, and there is no shower cabinet so using the shower makes the whole bathroom wet, but it's not too much trouble to wipe it with a towel afterwards. As an extra bonus there's an airconditioner which will probably come quite handy during summer. For a mere 7600 yen (about 65 euros) plus expenses a month the room is definitely above anything from the free market for even near the same price, and apparently quite luxurious compared to most other dormitories too.
Common room in International House All residents (about 60, there are 79 rooms but some are empty if I'm not mistaken) share a common room which has a television, sofas, tables, reading and a few computers connected to the Internet. It is also possible to plug your own laptop to the hub. Naturally the room is often used for parties too. This photo is from the welcome evening of Kanazawa International Student Station (K.I.S.S.), a group which consist of both exchange students and Japanese who are interested to meet foreigners.
Flea market, enough cups and plates for everybody. On the first Saturday after arrival there was a flea market in front of the International House organized by the Japanese people. Great idea! In Japan it is usually rather hard to find second hand stuff so this was a good opportunity to get kitchenware and some other things for a fraction of the price of new ones. Pots and pans were hot stuff but there were enough glasses, cups and plates for everybody. Some lucky ones even got TV sets for 500 yen (about 4 euros) each.
Girl band playing Japanese drums While walking around the city during the first weekend I accidentally found a festival of some local schools. It was held by the Saigawa river, one of the two streams that cross the city. These girls were playing traditional Japanese drums quite nicely.
Higashiyama main street A large number of temples remain in various parts of Kanazawa, but most other old houses have been either destroyed by fire or torn down and replaced by new ones. In Higashiyama (東山) district some are still preserved and a few of them open to tourists.
Ochaya Shima, room for watching geishas Higashiyama was built mainly in the 1820's and one of the buildings is Ochaya Shima (お茶屋志摩). Ochaya means "a tea house", but actually it was a place where wealthy people went to eat, drink and enjoy entertainment performed by geishas. Tamura (田村), Miyashita (宮下) and Ebisu (蛭子) kindly offered to be my guides for Kanazawa sightseeing on that day.
Garden of Ochaya Shima The garden of Ochaya Shima, featuring a typical old style Japanese lantern.
Stairs at Ninjadera temple Myouryuuji temple, better known as Ninjadera (Ninja temple) is quite different from what one would expect of a religious building. Quoting one guidebook: it's a tourist trap but it's fun.

In the old days temples were not only places for worship but also important for defence against enemies. The architectures of Ninjadera certainly aimed to perfection towards the latter goal. The place is full of hidden staircases, trap doors and other tricks. This is just one example, go up these stairs and spearmen underneath can see the shadows cast by your feet. Guided visits only.

A view from a street at Teramachi A typical view from a street in Kanazawa. Most of them are narrow and bike is a convenient way to move around. This picture is from Teramachi area, which is full of temples hidden between buildings, yielding a total of about 70 in less than one square kilometer. Actually to the left from the black car there's an entrance to one of them (Ninjadera).
Oumichou market in the afternoon The Oumichou (近江町) market boasts the biggest selection of different kinds of seafood I've seen. There are also small restaurants, I had some excellent sashimi in one of them for a quite reasonable price. Oumichou is also the best place to buy fruit and vegetables, they're fresh and a lot cheaper than in supermarkets.
Yosakoi Sooran Nihonkai festival Sunday October 13th was a day full of different events around the city. Traditional culture and items from Japan and other countries were presented by the city hall at the International Friendship Festival. Near Kenrokuen there was a big dance competition called Yosakoi Sooran Nihonkai. Each team consisted of a few dozen people, age varying from about 5 year old children to adults, all dancing together and everybody seemed to have fun. Apparently the dances were derived from old Japanese traditions but mixed with modern elements, the music was mostly pop, rock and dance. Choreographies were well prepared and one performance lasted about five minutes. The teams came from various towns by the Japan west coast and if I got it correctly there were 52 of them in total. Quite impressive!
Part of the Sachuukinshoukoenbutai dance team I approached one of the teams to take a picture and find out what the event was all about. The people were very friendly and I and Juha (the other Finnish exchange student here) ended up in the picture too. Their team was called Sachuukinshoukoenbutai (沙中金翔湖焔舞隊) and came from a town called Neagari (根上町) quite near Kanazawa. It did quite well in the competition too, I think they came on the 6th or 7th place.
Barbeque, group photo Another group photo: these are people from the Image Information Science laboratory where I will be writing my master's thesis. We had a barbeque together in a park near the sea. Unfortunately professor Muramoto is missing, he was also there but left before the picture was taken.

And yes, while there are a lot of girls in many other faculties, computer science seems to be mostly a playground of boys like everywhere else. ;-)

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Copyright Arto Teräs <ajt@iki.fi> 2002.
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Last update 1.11.2002.