Higashichaya machi/Kanazawa

Regular customers like tradesmen or man of culture are often tempted to enjoy the time with geiko, professional entertainers, different from everyday life. Anteroom next to the guest room will change into the stage for geiko.

A value was placed on IKI, smart or chic. A sophisticated customer is the one who have tolerance to be able to entertain even geiko, while an utmost geiko is the one who acquire the art to let a cutomer be absorbed in the party.

Customers trained themselves to be good at singing, playing shamisen, musical instrument so that they can catch up with the conversations and culture in the party.

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higashi6.jpg Maeda clan encouraged even common people to enjoy this type of culture, led to spread the sense of culture in Kanazawa.

In Higashi chaya-machi, entertainment district, there are 17 Geiko, stationed in 7 Ochaya even today.

There are two more geiko districts, Nishi chaya-machi, and Kazue in Kanazawa. It's not intimidating but very tempting.


Gold leaf/Kanazawa

金沢 Kanazawa literally means "a swamp where gold was found". A man digging yam happened to find gold dust-a story in 8th cetury.
Until mid 1800, only Edo, today's Tokyo and Kyoto were allowed to process gold. Maeda clan was continuing to make gold leaves secretly. Climate in Kanazawa was just an appropriated one, and there was a great demand.
The process of making refined as well as the thinnest gold leaves was developed during the period, leading to 98% shares of the market today.

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The same amount of 10 yen coin is beated repeatedly to be extended to 2 peices of Tatami mat size with the thickness of 1/10000mm in the end. It's so delicate that they have to use bamboo tools to handle.

The possession of gold or gold leaf looks really gorgeous. 
Gold leaves are greatly used for Buddhism altars in this area. A Buddhism altar at a private home sometimes costs about $100,000 since it's so important like family temple. However, you can get gold related products  with small amount of money.

Kanazawa Castle/Kanazawa

Kanazawa is a castle city established by Maeda clan, who had sutle relationship with the Shogun government, keeping their family lasting the same period as the Shogun family. The lord made all the efforts to develop their local industries like making gold leaves, dyeing kimono, pottery and so on. Common people could enjoy cultures like tea ceremony, Noh performance, and singing and playing musics. Therefore Kanazawa has been rich in culture.
Yagura, the turret to store the arms were frequently burned down and restored. Ishikawamon Gate and Yagura is from 200 years ago, one of the oldest. You can see the interior of Hishi-yagura, which was restored in 2001 in completely the traditional style.
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Timbers are neatly jointed to protect buildings from tremors. Roof materials are not tiles but wood coated with lead so that in case of war they could use lead for making bullets. The lead tuned into white after a while. Layers of earthen wall covered with tile and plaster are earthquake and fire proof. However, unfortunately it suffered from frequent fires.
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There are more to see like Kenrokuen, and Nagamachi, former samurai residential area nearby.
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Kanazawa is only 2 hours from Kyoto by JR, limited express train costing 6200yen. The distance is 220km or 138miles. A local city with the population of 450,000.



Tour guide living in Kyoto

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