Kanazawa still feels like a castle town. It is the site of a castle as well as many samurai houses. In addition, the romantic teahouse streets have not changed at all.
Nishi Teahouse Street is to the south of the Sai River, and is synonymous with Kanazawa. In the third year of the Bunsei period, the Kaga Domain had the street built along with Higashi Teahouse Street.
Even today, Japanese-style restaurants and geisha-girl delivery stores produce items of great elegance. After dark, the sounds of the shamisen can be heard, lending the streets further charm.
In olden times, most teahouses used to refuse first-time customers. This was the case with Higashi Street, but now there are Japanese-style hotels, souvenir shops and cafes lining its sides. It is most enjoyable to walk down the street.
Nishi Teahouse Museum is located in the building where Seijiro Shimada, a writer born in Mikawa, Ishikawa prefecture, lived when young and there are items exhibited here describing his early life.
Tanabata is a star festival held on 7th July and is one of Japan's five seasonal festivals.
The origin of the festival is supposed to be a Chinese festival called 'Kitsukoden', when people prayed for their advance in needlework and performing arts. Another legend says that the 7th day of the 7th month is the only day of the year when Vega (the weaver girl star) and Altair (the cowherd boy star) are allowed to meet each other. There is also a Japanese legend called Tanabatatsume about a weaver for a god. These legends mixed together to form Tanabata, which then became an important event in the imperial court.
In the Edo period, Tanabata spread to the commoners and took on its present form. Today, people write wishes on oblong cards and decorate bamboo branches. Even after Japan adopted the Western calendar, in many districts Tanabata is still held on the 7th day of the 7th month of the lunar calendar.
Today there are many Tanabata festivals. Sendai Tanabata held in Miyagi Prefecture and Shonan Hiratsuka Tanabata held in Kanagawa Prefecture are very popular as the biggest Tanabata festivals in the country.
The Yumeji Local Art Museum Branch, located in Setonai, Okayama Prefecture, commemorates the birthplace of Yumeji Takehisa, who lived here until the age of 16.
Yumeji Takehisa was a lyrical and roving artist/poet whose work is representative of the Taisho Romantic style. Yumeji was born in 1884 (Meiji 17) in the town of Oku. Surrounded by beautiful mountains and rivers, this environment must lie at the roots of Yumeji's art.
The Yumeji museum exhibits Yumeji's sketches and block prints. Near the window are drawing marks he made for his beloved sister who had married. There is a monument at the museum entrance with the words, 'Takehisa Yumeji was born here' by Ikuma Arishima, one of Yumeji's best supporters. Next door, there is a recreation of Yumeji's studio, designed by him and now called the Yumeji Youth Lodge. Yumeji fans should definitely pay a visit to the poet's birthplace.
Rokkaen is a garden located in Kuwana-shi, Mie Prefecture, which contains a mansion that splendidly harmonizes Japanese and Western building styles. It was built in 1913 as the residence of the second generation Moroto Seiroku.
Josiah Conder, who became famous for designing Rokumeikan (the Deer Cry Pavilion), was responsible for planning Rokkaen as well. The layout of the house consists of a two-story European-style building with four small rooms inside a tower, a natural slate roof, a Japanese-style building and a shed, as well as a garden around a pond.
Currently the house is open to the public, and tourists may come here to relax, or chat with other visitors. In 1997, Rokkaen was designated as an Important Cultural Property of Japan. In 2001, the garden, excluding one section, was nominated as a scenic spot of Japan.
The Rokkaen is a precious cultural heritage which represents the fusion of Japanese and Western architectural styles popular in the late Meiji and Taisho periods. It is a classic example of period architecture encapsulating Taisho romance and passion.