Kanazawa City, Ishikawa Pref.

In March of this year, I made a trip through Japan. This trip was a bit special for a few reasons: First, I was to travel solely by local trains (a limitation of the special ticket I had gotten: seishun18kippu 青春18切符). Second, I was to practice my Japanese (it was, and still is, very needed). And third, I was to run at least once in each city I would visit. So that’s what I did. In 12 days, I went from Niigata City (where I live) all the way to Fukuoka in Kyushu. On my way, I stopped in Kanazawa, Kyoto, Himeji and Hiroshima. So, you guessed it, my upcoming posts will be about running in these cities. Today, our stop is Kanazawa City. IMG_0002

I arrived at 8pm, almost 6 hours after leaving Niigata station. There, I was greeted by the very impressive Tzuzumimon (I’ve also heard it called “Omotenashi gate”).  I headed straight for my hostel (Shaq Bighouse, an awesome place; I’ll tell you more about it a bit further). After checking in, I debated going for a late run, but since it was dark and I had no idea where I was, I opted for getting some food and buying toothpaste instead. Then, bed time! At 6am, I woke up to a light drizzle. I put some long underwear pants (I’m not sure how to call that; it’s not really compression pants but kind of looks like it), a couple of shirts and my good old yellow running jacket, then, I was out the door.

Kanazawa is a beautiful city with a lot of busy people and, therefore, busy sidewalks. If you plan on running downtown, you definitely need to do so before all the commuters start their day. I was pretty satisfied with having all the nice covered sidewalks for myself when I started my run, but I knew my path wouldn’t be quiet for much longer. So I headed toward the Sai River. On the way there, I noticed a nice shrine/park on my left (1 on the map) so I went in a ran a little loop. It was pretty, but I didn’t venture quite far into it. I did do a “temple run” the next day though (see farther…).

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Once I reached the river, I decided to go left and see what was upstream. The water was quite clear and fast. Its cobbled bed was so inviting that I almost considered going to dip my feet in for a second. Then I remembered that it was 6 degrees, raining,  and that I was just starting my run.

The further I went, the bigger the houses around the river seemed to get. Unfortunately, I quickly found that the path was blocked by construction. I decided to turn around and thought; “maybe I can reach the sea…”

Turns out that the sea was still quite far. I think I made it about half way there before I decided to turn back around. My run ended up being over 16km, which was plenty for that day.

IMG_0006Overall, the path along the river is quite nice and mostly covered in decent-ish asphalt. It took me a while to notice (not sure why, since the signs were pretty big and obvious), but there are actually distance markers along the way. When I saw them, I also realized that the path is officially called the Saigawa Cycling Road.

Not long after I turned around, I started chatting with another foreigner who was running on the same path. I won’t even try to spell his name because it’s guaranteed that I wouldn’t get it right, but he was from Latvia and he was currently living in Kanazawa for a chef internship. When I reached my exit (i.e. when I saw the road I had used to reach the river), we said goodbye and I headed back to my hostel through the downtown area.

It was almost 8 O’clock at that point. The sidewalk was obviously busier than at 6, but it wasn’t really that bad. I guess the rain forced more people to take their car or the bus.

When I arrived at Shaq Bighouse, I was drenched. Since I pretty much had the whole place for myself, I decided to take my time in the shower and wash my clothes in it. Felt pret-ty good!

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Coming up: Kanazawa Day 2, some more info about the city itself, the hostel, the new shinkansen line and the first Kanazawa marathon in 2015. Stay tuned…

 

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