Pines of Pride in the Famous Japanese Garden
In a large patch of land next to Kanazawa Castle, there is a symbol of this town that the Maeda Clan spent 9 generations and 200 years creating -- the famous Japanese garden, Kenroku-en. In a pond, landscaped with an ocean scene in mind, an island was placed as a symbol of the clan's prosperity. Each November 1, the gardeners prepare for the winter with a major job. It's "yukizuri" -- which literally means "snow suspension" -- where they protect pines from snow damage by supporting tree branches with 800 ropes. Ropes stretch toward the heavens from the enormous Karasaki Pine. Without these 800 ropes, the tree would buckle under the snow's weight. The pride of the gardeners sustains it.
Oden: Feast of Winter
Heavy, wet snow falls and falls during Kanazawa's harsh winters. There's a winter dish that can warm the body and soul on cold nights like these. It's a stewed food called "oden." Kanazawa has more Oden restaurants per capita than anywhere in Japan. There's also a seasonal item that people have looked forward to each year. It's an Oden dish with crab that can only be caught during a month and a half at the end of the year.
An Enduring Love for Gold
Kanazawa makes 99.9% of Japan's gold leaf. The goldbeater takes a sheet that's a thousandth of a millimeter thick, and beats it until it's just one ten-thousandth of a millimeter thick. The goldbeating profession began roughly 300 years ago, and caught on among impoverished lower-class samurai. At a Japanese sweets café popular with tourists, the waitress brings a luxurious dessert adorned with gold leaf. It's said that gold used to be eaten in the hopes of attaining eternal youth.