The Longest Trip

2016-05-25 12.15.13

Myorakuji Temple, Obama ( Fukui Prefecture)

So far, the longest road trip we have taken here is for 3 nights, but this time we set out for Noto and Kanazawa on a 5 night, 6 day odyssey! I wanted to see some temples in Obama. We got to see the Myorakuji Temple ( 妙楽時)with the “thousand-handed Buddha” statue. Each hand holds a different object, like a writing brush, prayer beads or an incense burner! The surrounding gardens were very nice and we enjoyed being the only ones strolling there!

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Senju Kannon at Myorakuji Temple

Later we found a “Showa era” shopping arcade that opened in 1936. There were several of the original stores still hanging on. I met Mr. Hideo Saito of the Dai-ei Shoe Store. He is 84 years old and still in business in spite of having back surgery a year ago and using a cane.

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Hideo Saito at the Dai-ei Shoji shoestore, Obama City

I love to see old shops from this era and hope they preserve this “Izumi Arcade” area.

The next day we went to a famous Zen temple near Fukui City, Eiheiji (永平寺)The Zen sect was brought from China in the 13th century by Dogen who then builtthe EIheiji (or”temple of eternal peace”) in  1244. Even today,  many young priests undergo rigid training here.

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Eiheiji Temple, near Fukui City

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Tiles in the ceiling of the Main Hall

The temple buildings and grounds are vast and very beautiful. It is built up about 6 levels. We were very impressed and glad we went on a weekday when fewer visitors are there.

Our next destination was the Noto Peninsula, stopping first at the Showa Museum of Collectibles and Toys from the early 20th century. Hiro wasn’t eager to pay the $7 fee to get in, but later admitted it was more than worth it. I recommend this to anyone who loves the nostalgia of pre-war days.

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Objects found in a typical 1950 home (although only a few had TVs!)

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Instructions on Using a Bathhouse (including”Don’t do your laundry here”)

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Megumi and Haruki are Gelato fans like me (Maruga Gelato, Noto cho)

After enjoying gelato and meeting these cute kids, we reached our inn, the Mawaki PorePore Hot Springs.(縄文温泉の宿 真脇ポレーポレー0768ー62-4700) This is our new favorite inn as the sashimi and the Wajima-beef steak were sooo good!

On Friday morning, we left in time to get to the famed Wajima Asa-ichi (Morning market) where fresh seafood and hand-crafted items are sold every morning! There, we met a shop owner, Mr. Kiyoshi Yatsui, who graduated from Cornell with a post-doctorate in nuclear physics! He is the fifth-generation owner of this large lacquer-ware shop on the main street of Wajima.


With Kiyoshi Yatsui in Yatsui FIne Lacquerware Shop, Wajima

Wajima lacquer-ware is famous all over Japan and very expensive!I admired a brooch but it was out of my price range! Nevertheless, we enjoyed talking with Yatsui-san and it turns out that he lived in Albuquerque and did research at Sandia base! It felt like meeting an old friend!

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Cheesecake at ASIE Cafe by Saigawa, Kanazawa

We reached Kanazawa city in the early afternoon and visited the museum dedicated to writer Muro Saisei. Then we found a great spot to rest at a riverside cafe that had great coffee and desserts!

Things to See In Kanazawa

The Kenrokuen gardens are a must-see in Kanazawa, located next to the Kanazawa castle. We also went to the History Museum.

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At Kenroku-en Garden, Kanazawa

We had lunch in the Edo-era atmosphere of Higashi Chaya Machi. We went to a restaurant recommended by this nice rikisha puller and had local cuisine, including kuruma-fu, and oshi-zushi. My crab sushi had real gold flakes on it!

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Rikisha puller and (below)Local food in old Higashi Chaya Machi

Strolling along the river, a volunteer guide spoke to me, and introduced me to another volunteer, 98-year-old Suemura Takeo (末村武男)I talked with him and heard about his experiences in a Russian prison camp after WWII. He explained how he was in Manchuria at the end of the war and preparing for repatriation when Russian troops occupied the area and he was captured. He was forced to carry heavy sacks of sugar that weighed  60 kilograms. (over 130 lbs).

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Suemura can still remember many Russian words from his 3-year captivity

Suemura-san suffered frostbite so the skin sloughed off his face. After treatment, he was sent back to work. He said people laughed and pointed at him and said something in Russian. He asked someone and found out they were saying, “He is no longer a person! Ha ! Ha!” because the bandage made a big “X” across his face.

After being released, he returned to Japan, married and had 3 children.After retiring,  he wondered what he could do to make himself useful and became a volunteer guide for tourists in his hometown.

Ikuno Silver Mine


On the way home, we stopped by the old silver mine in  Ikuno, Hyogo Prefecture. It was mainly developed under the Tokugawa in the Edo era and produced much silver. Taken over by the government around 1860, French engineers came to modernize the mine.  In 1896, it was sold off to the Mitsubishi Co, becoming one of the pillars of their operations. The mine closed in 1973.

Tatsuno and Higashi-Maru Soy Sauce

Our last stopover was in the old castle-town of Tatsuno, where we visited the old soy sauce factory museum. There are many soy sauce brands made here from 400 years ago. The video told how the barrels for soy sauce were made which was in itself quite a traditional craft. The soy sauce had to ferment for about a year before being bottled and was a very labor-intensive process in the old days.

As we left, we saw the modern Higashi Maru usukuchi shoyu factory along the river. The town itself is quite old and there are many old shops that sell soy manju and other local delicacies! This town is definitely worth seeing!

All in all, we had an amazing week and good weather. I learned a lot. I’m glad ot be home again, though. It was a very ambitious undertaking for us old people!! Hiroo drove the whole way!


Definitely eat Sabazushi (さば寿司)in Obama!!






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