Travelogue Japan: Nagamachi Samurai District, Kanazawa

One of our last stops in Kanazawa was Nagamachi, a former samurai district located at the foot of Kanazawa Castle. Since the castle was an important centre of administration for the ruling daimyo, it was natural that a residence catering to the upper echelons, namely the samurai, sprung up within close proximity.

credit: Japan National Tourism Organisation

Entering the area was like taking a step back in time, to a feudal era several hundred years ago. We took a stroll through its quiet, cobble-stoned alleyways, flanked by high earthen walls, large wooden gates and private entrances. Some houses are still occupied, apparently by descendants of the samurai who used to be retainers of the powerful Maeda clan.

credit: Japan National Tourism Organisation

Like many historic sights within the city, Nagamachi retains its authentic charm, the buildings intact from bombardment suffered in other Japanese cities throughout World War II. I found the earthen walls to be especially intriguing. At each corner of the street was a low, squarish stone. Our guide, Mariko-san, explained that these were used by people to get rid of snow on their shoes by tapping the side of the stone with their feet before entering a home.

Nagamachi Samurai District, Kanazawa

There are two canals running through the neighbourhood. The sound of flowing water lends a feeling of tranquility. Coupled with the fact that there is a low density of vehicles in the area, Nagamachi makes a nice, peaceful excursion away from the throng of tourists at other attractions.

Nagamachi Samurai District, Kanazawa

Nagamachi Samurai District, Kanazawa

One of the places you can visit is Nomura-Ke, a former samurai residence turned museum which houses exhibits of artifacts, equipment and daily household items used in that era. The Nomura family were a rich and powerful samurai family, until, like many retainers, they lost their wealth and prestige during the Meiji restoration.

Nagamachi Samurai District, Kanazawa

The Kyu-Kaga Hanshi Takada Family House, once the abode of the Takada family, has a beautiful landscaped garden – reflective of the clan’s standing and influence.

Nagamachi Samurai District, Kanazawa

We ventured into an old house-turned-musuem for a quick walkabout.  Rooms were made to look exactly like the original, with tatami-ed floors and sliding doors covered with thin washi paper.

Nagamachi Samurai District, Kanazawa

Nagamachi Samurai District, Kanazawa

The kitchen area had wooden floorboards and traditional cooking stoves that used firewood.

GETTING TO NAGAMACHI SAMURAI DISTRICT 

From Kanazawa Station, take the Kanazawa Loop Bus from the East Exit and get off at Korinbo bus stop. From there it is a 5-minute walk to Nagamachi.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ngok San Temple, Kuala Kubu Bharu

While leaving Kuala Kubu Bharu after lunch, we saw a few Chinese temples, set at the foot of the hills nearby. We decided to stop by at one called Ngok San Temple. It’s hard to miss, since the building is brightly painted in shades of yellow, green, red and pink. To access the place, simply follow the yellow signs leading through a JKR settlement.

Hot pink steps.

According to the caretaker, the temple has 123 years of history and is dedicated to several deities, the main one being ‘Si Ye’ (I have no idea which one that is, we have so many deities in Buddhism/Taoism). While the building wasn’t very big, the architecture was pretty, with the customary red lanterns, dragons and phoenixes adorning the entrance + two guardian Foo dogs outside.

 

Interior chamber with open air area, allowing sunshine to filter in. 

View from inside the temple facing out.

Images of phoenixes on the temple walls.

 

An elaborate wooden carving of deities and heavenly scenes hanging from the rafters.

Gold tipped ceremonial spears.

Rich, velvet red tapestries with tassels and gold caligraphy.

Main prayer hall with several deities. Si Ye (in the center), flanked by Guanyin(goddess of mercy) on the right and another deity on the left.

Other deities housed in smaller shrines, this one made to resemble a jade backdrop.

Resident doggy. Gave it some pets and it followed us all the way back to our car. 🙂

After leaving the temple, we stopped by outside a Hindu temple for more pictures. The place was closed so could only take them from the outside.

All in all, a fun day trip to KKB ! Beats walking at shopping malls and getting caught in the traffic going there.Sometimes it’s nice to explore your own backyard and learn about the culture and history.