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Once a cultural rival to Kyoto and Tokyo, Kanazawa is a gem of a city, filled with beautiful gardens, exquisite old houses and incredible artefacts. Tokyo still retains the footprint of its Edo past, if you know where, and how, to look.
Stand for a minute at the floor-to-ceiling windows, high up in the new Andaz hotel in Toranomon Hills, and you will see odd-shaped pockets of land sandwiched between the temples, Shinto shrines and high-rise blocks that lead to the Imperial Gardens.
These are all that remain of the Daimyo ruling lords residences that stood there during the Edoera, which ran from to Yet, to experience Japan's history you need to venture into the country. Until now, Tokyo tourists tended to hop on the high-speed train to Kyoto, but from today, they will have another option.
In a mere two-and-a-half hours, the new Hokurikiu Shinkansen bullet train will race across the Japanese Alps to Kanazawa, close to the Sea of Japan. Once a cultural rival to Kyoto and Tokyo, Kanazawa remains a gem of a city, filled with beautiful gardens, exquisite old houses and incredible artefacts. Thus it was that I found myself in the entrance hall of Ryokan Asadaya, a small, traditional year-old inn in Kanazawa, with my guide for the day, Kumiko Horiuchi.
Outside, warm autumnal rain was gurgling down the street. As I slipped on my walking shoes, a lively Japanese discussion developed. The ryokan's manager was worried that I might ruin my shoes and with a hurried rustle of kimonos, her assistants produced a pair of floral printed Salvatore Ferragamo wellies.