My joints are thanking me this morning. Despite the letdown of not putting my ninja skills to use, I feel fully rested and ready to be sedentary on the DZed for my trip to Kanazawa today.
Before I leave this Ninja-clad city, I'm going to pay a visit to the largest (and most well-known) temple in the area, Zenkoji Temple.
Built in the 7th century, Zenkoji Temple has a special significance to the area. For one, the Temple houses the first Buddhist statue to come to the country.
The word is that the statue is still housed within the halls of the Temple, but it is not available for public viewing.
From what someone else at the Temple told me, they made a copy of the statue that they display every six years but alas, this is not the time to view the statue.
The Temple grounds include a museum, shopping area, and restaurants.
It kind of reminds me of how Senso-Ji Temple is set up in Tokyo, with a large marketplace all within the same grounds as the Temple.
Because of those similarities and my inability to see the "hidden statue", I bid adieu to Zenkoji and plot out my route to Kanazawa on the GPS.
It appears that I have a hook-shaped route, totaling around 2 hours today. I baited the bike in gear and moved towards the city of Kanazawa.
Along the way, I begin to put together different melodies in my head. Ever since visiting the museum with the music boxes, I've had this ongoing urge to rearrange and create new melodies.
Like a complex equation, I pick apart the intricacies of the note patterns and fit them, to my taste.
If I can't listen to music on the open highway, then I'm sure as hell going to construct it in my mind to pass time.
As I make my way into the city, I come across my hotel for the night and begin to make my daily plans.
The biggest attraction that jumped out to me was an old Samurai neighborhood, named Nagamachi.
It rests behind Kanazawa castle and is a well-preserved district that used to house several warriors from that era.
Considering yesterday's pilgrimage to the Ninja mecha, I couldn't help but take a peek at their rival living quarters.
What I didn't realize before visiting Kanazawa was that this was one of the biggest cities in the country to avoid major damage from WW2.
Unlike several other historical landmarks, the majority of the places here in Kanazawa escaped the international conflicts, unscathed.
Upon looking at Nagamachi, it's evident that the worn, but sturdy architecture has stood the test of time.
Perhaps this isn't a well-known fact by foreigners but the term Samurai means "To Serve". For centuries, they were of service to everyone from feudal lords (daimyo) to the emperor.
Specifically, the Samurai eventually rose towards the top of the social class during the Edo period.
In that time of peace, the Samurai were less focused on battle and more on other artistic or business endeavors.
Despite the changing eras, they retained the same code of honor that to live by (Bushido).
The ethics of the Samurai were pure and forthright. It didn't matter who they were serving, they were proud to give the job their full effort (and life force).
I've long been fascinated by Samurai culture and it was a real treat to walk through this neighborhood.
The most notable house in the neighborhood is Nomura-ke.
The family that lived here was a high-class Samurai family, who tragically lost their livelihood after the Samurai were abolished in the Meiji period.
Walking into this house allows the visitor to peer into the past life of what was once a prestigious family here in Japan.
The extensive detail in the house is highlighted by the paintings on the doors, done by a well-known artist of the era. The woodworking is unlike anything I've seen from a building this old.
The array of woods used, from rosewood to ironwood, were beautifully laid throughout the house.
Every piece had a purpose and it was clear that the former inhabitants had an eye for design and interior decor.
Behind the house is a well-manicured garden, complemented by a waterfall and koi pond. The detail of this property is just breathtaking.
It just highlights the attention to detail and pursuit of perfection to their craft.
Even when they were preparing for battle, they were keen on honing in any artistic skill that they were pursuing. Every waking moment was spent perfecting a craft.
Never a dull moment was lost on them and it's hard not to be inspired by that kind of commitment. It's the kind of lifestyle that should be celebrated today.
I left the Nomura house soon after and made my way up to the nearby Kanazawa castle. In its time, it was known to be ruled by one of the most powerful clans in all of Japan, the Maeda clan.
The family led this area for 14 generations, until the Meiji restoration. Speaking of restoration, this castle has a long history of reforming itself.
Several fires have destroyed most parts of the original castle, with few parts remaining from their inception.
In recent decades, the Castle was once used as a campus for a local university and has been in a constant state of renovation.
This may be the first time I've seen a Shrine or Temple here that wasn't complete. It's not so much that something is "missing" from the building.
It's just that the history of these grounds dictates the castle's ongoing quest for completion.
Regardless, it wasn't what I was hoping to see, and spent the rest of my day taking in the view from the nearby park.
As I made my evening stroll back to the hotel, I couldn't help but repeat the tenants of the Bushido way of life in my head.
There's just something so pure, and mythical, about how these people lived.
In a time where feudal lords were fighting each other for every inch of ground, their hired soldiers were warriors of art.
It didn't matter what task they had to fulfill, their life was dedicated to service and being the best at their art. I feel like the essence of those values live on in their society today.
No job is too small or meager. Everybody here seems to embrace their position and work at it, to the best of their abilities.
There is no shame in the job they do, only if they perform poorly at said task. I greatly admire that dedication and it's a moral lesson that nobody should forget.
And with that, my day draws to a close. I have an early morning tomorrow, as I'll be finishing up my week in this region with a trip up to Niigata.
Judging by a few glances at the GPS, it'll be a long ride.
Thanks again and I'll see you soon!