Monday 17 February, 2020
Day 1 / Tokyo to Kanazawa
[Missed the previous post? Check it out here]
We had just checked out of Hotel Emit the previous night and cycled 4km to the Express Bus Terminal in Shinjuku to catch an overnight bus to Kanazawa. It was relatively easy despite the traffic and crowds, especially coming through Harajuku which is normally quite crowded especially when passing the famous Takeshita Street.
There is a huge bike parking station in Shinjuku with space for hundreds of bikes, so we park there to keep our stuff out of the rain. We get DIY okonomiyaki for dinner and pick up a few supplies from Don Quijote before packing up our bikes and heading for our bus.
The bus departs at 10:50pm on the dot (Japanese efficiency) and after nearly nine hours we arrive bright and early at Kanazawa station. The bus had been quite warm but as soon as we step off we get blasted by the chill and some strong wind. We put our bikes back together and set off to our accommodation, Hotel Resol Trinity, which is about a kilometre down the road. It has already been raining but holds out while we make our way.
We find the place easily however check in isn’t until 2pm and it’s only 8:30am. We decide to drop our bags off and are advised there is a dedicated bike parking area just down the road. We pop down and lock our bikes up before heading to Starbucks for some hot drinks.
We’re both exhausted, having only gotten about three hours of sleep each but decide to force ourselves to stay awake until we can check in later.
We decide to try the Yuzu Citrus and Tea which is warm and comforting. It’s nice to get out of the cold and we sit for about an hour while planning our day and charging our phones, which are dead after catching up on the new US Survivor series on the bus ride. At around 10am we make our way Omicho Market, known for its fresh seafood and produce.
We see the hustle and bustle of people purchasing the days catch and spot some beautiful but expensive looking fruit, including strawberries and citrus. The strawberries smell amazing!
We decide to try some mochi balls and pick up an Ichigo Daifuku (mochi filled with strawberry and red bean paste) and a White Bean Daifuku.
The white bean one is good but the strawberry one is amazing!
Afterwards we head out the back entrance of the market and head to Kanazawa Castle. As we make our way through the entry gate it starts pouring down with rain so we take shelter under the nearby restroom only to realise it’s actually snowing. However, on closer inspection the snow looks more like miniature hail stones. At least we’re less likely to get wet, says Cheye. But no wonder it’s so cold. The rain/snow/hail eases up and we continue towards the castle, making our way past the moat. It starts raining again so we head to the information office where a few other tourists are also escaping the cold. After a quick discussion we decide it’s too cold to check out the gardens which are a bit further, and decide to make our way towards the big shopping mall near the train station and search for some food.
The walk towards the station is freezing with endless wind and sporadic rain. As soon as we enter the shopping complex we can feel all our body parts start to defrost and slowly warm up. We decide to hit up a place call A Happy Pancake for lunch, who are known for making famous thick soufflé pancakes. These have become pretty popular in Japan with some people lining up for hours at the central Tokyo branches. Luckily for us, being outside of the main city means we can wander straight in without a booking and have our order taken almost immediately.
A Happy Pancake has several branches around Japan and each one has own signature flavour exclusive to that branch only. The signature flavour for the Kanazawa branch is the Black Sesame Pancake with Walnut and Soybean Powder so we grab one of those. We also order the original Happy Pancake to go with it.
The pancakes are a bit of a process to cook and take up to 20 minutes to serve but our order comes out pretty quickly. Oh my goodness, they are the best pancakes we’ve ever had. Thick but super light and fluffy but not overly sweet. The original pancakes are delicious but the black sesame ones are to die for. They actually remind me of my mum’s angel cake and have that very familiar flavour and texture of folded egg whites and egg yolks.
With our bellies full we head back to check into our hotel. The rain has settled for now but it’s still windy. Did I mention how cold it is?!
After check in we crash out for a few hours to catch up on sleep and decide to get a simple konbini dinner from the local 7-11, Lawsons and Family Mart. The great thing about Japan is you’re never far from food wherever you are. And the convenience stores make decent and reasonably priced food, which I’ve mentioned before in previous blogs posts from Japan.
We pick up some noodle dishes and onigiri before heading back to prepare for our first big day of cycling. We check the weather forecast and it’s supposed to be 4 degrees and rain all day tomorrow. And if there’s one thing I dislike it’s cycling in the rain 😦