We began with our free breakfast at the Toyoko-Inn where we are staying. We'll be staying at Toyoko Inn (business) hotels in the different cities throughout the rest of our stay except for one night at the Eiheiji Temple.
The breakfast was really quite substantial and we were delighted.
Auntie was able to hail a taxi for us right away.
When we got to Kenrokuen, we were startled by how large and ancient it all looked. Everything was breathtakingly beautiful.
One of the first things you see is this ancient pine tree with the crutches to help hold up its branches.
We were excited to see some early blooming cherry blossoms. Unfortunately, the taxi driver told us everything would be in full bloom NEXT week. Sigh.
It was actually almost ALMOST warm compared to how freezing it's been. Auntie convinced mom to try taking a stroll. We thought it might be good for mom to have a little exercise, too. However, we were careful to make sure she didn't overdo it.
As you can see the cherry trees were just beginning to bloom.
We took a whole TON of photos of every blossom we could find.
This extremely old cherry tree needed protection to keep it alive.
There were calendar worthy scenes all over the garden.
Art noticed these workers shaping one of the cherry trees. By the way, half of these photos I've been posting are Art's. I really, really did try to limit the amount of photos I posted but between Art and me, we took 566 photos today and we love almost every one. How could I choose?
Here we are at Neagarinomatsu. That means The Pine with the Roots Rising.
Yup, it really was rising out of the ground, all right.
We noticed these workers hard at work keeping the garden immaculate and in near perfection.
Oh my gosh! Another cherry tree in bloom! We stood there taking dozens of photos. Because there weren't all that many trees in full bloom, each blooming tree was more precious.
I have NO idea what the name of this bird is. Art said he thought it looked like a brown jay instead of a blue jay.
This is a plum tree which blooms earlier. You can tell the plum trees because the flowers bloom right on the trunk at times and at the crotch of branches.
There are hundreds of varieties of cherry trees planted in the garden and thousands of trees throughout.
Mom was feeling pretty cold, even with the 5 or 6 layers of clothing. With all the layers she couldn't close her jacket. We were just happy it wasn't raining and was almost sunny. It was scheduled to be cloudy and drizzly in the afternoon. This sort-of-sunny morning was a gift.
This cherry tree truly blew us away. We couldn't stop walking around it and admiring it. I'm not satisfied with our capture of the beauty of the gnarled trunk and graceful branches. It truly was a work of art, a collaboration of man and nature.
I thought this heart shape in the tree was interesting.
Oh darn! I forget what this building was.
And I don't know what the name of this bird is either. We've seen it at other places and thought it was very pretty. I couldn't believe I was actually able to get a shot because it flit around the tree with lightning speed.
We just had to get a group photo under this cherry tree.
Auntie said that when the cherry blossoms are in full bloom and the lanterns are lit at night, it's a truly awesome sight.
Ah well, it just means we'll have to come back some day.
"No way," said mom. "No more traveling in the cold for me."
We decided on a restaurant at the Kanazawa train station. There were so many restaurants that it took us quite a while to settle on one.
I chose this one. This is the fake representation, but my plate looked just like it and it tasted just as good as it looked. I'm afraid I had the biggest lunch. Art and Auntie had tonkatsu and mom had a tempura bowl. We all ate every bite.
After lunch, we took Mom and Auntie back to the hotel to rest and we returned to the Kanazawa station (above photo) to do some shopping. We didn't find anything we liked but Art wanted to keep looking and I was too tired. Therefore, I reassured Art that I could find my way back to the hotel by myself to also get some rest.
And that's when it happened. I walked down what I thought was the correct street. I kept walking and walking and walking, stopping to look around and walking some more. Things didn't quite look familiar but I figured I must just not know the area. Then I saw a huge temple and realized I had gotten myself lost. LOST!
I had to ask someone for help and they pointed me in the right direction. I managed to get back to the hotel only about 15 minutes before Art returned.
When Art told my mom and aunt what happened, they chuckled and said it was a family trait. I'd inherited their lack of a sense of direction.
Tomorrow, we'll be going to Eiheiji Temple. It is one of two main Zen headquarters in Japan. We'll stay there overnight and I know there will be no Internet connection. We'll be going to bed early and waking at 3:30 to meditate. Mom and Auntie are giving their excuses to skip it.