Kaga: Hot Springs Eternal

The sign reads: “Japan vegetable sommelier’s vegetable juices bring vitality to your life.” There’s even one to make me more handsome. Okay, I’ll bite. Inside Nakamasa, I browse a veritable garden of impossibly vibrant vegetables like fiery red pumpkin, neon purple eggplant and emerald green wheatgrass. Sun-kissed, rain-nourished ingredients between the mountains and the Sea of Japan are abundant in this endearing temple and hot-spring retreat of Kaga, Ishikawa, Japan, and with each sip of rejuvenating juice I am becoming like Benjamin Button-san. Continue reading “Kaga: Hot Springs Eternal”

Tea For Two in Kanazawa

Kyoto is renowned for tea. So, too, is Kanazawa. Over many years a wealthy samurai class for whom tea culture was integral dominated Kanazawa. Kyoto aims to impress. Kanazawa aims to stand out. There is gorgeous pageantry to their love of green tea. Walls are brightly coloured. Wajima laquerware is dusted with gold. There is greater variety of sweets and wagashi using more ingredients than red or white bean paste, but even chestnuts and, more recently, grapes. Within the Chaya-gai District rows of two-story wooden houses are the centre of Kanazawa’s tea culture. Romance and exclusive social traditions are all evident as a shamisen guitar echoes in the distance. Antique lamps light narrow streets while Geisha flutter between passages. Specialty shops sell gold leaf cosmetics, gold-flecked tea and even soft ice cream wrapped in edible gold. Gold leaf is a symbol and specialty of Kanazawa. It’s not mere ostentation. It’s also considered a very healthy mineral. Floorboards chirp as I enter a teahouse to sample kaga-bocha, a smoky, toasty green tea. It pairs with local Castella cake that, I’m told, is made from a special egg, for more dense texture, bold flavour and deep golden colour. Continue reading “Tea For Two in Kanazawa”