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New Perspective to Kenroku-en and Kanazawa Castle

  1. Introduction of our final internship

  The last internship for our 1st semester was Kenroku-en (Kenroku garden) and the Kanazawa Castle in Kanazawa city (Fig.1-2). We were lucky because despite that it was just before the rainy season, it was almost always sunny.

   First we went to Kenroku-en.  The name of it means ‘the garden which has six attributes’. These attributes are; spaciousness, abandoned water, artificiality, quiet, panoramic view, and old-elegance (Fig.3-4). They are combined with each other in all places in this garden.  Kenroku-en is related to the Maeda Family.  This family was the feudal load of Kanazawa in the Edo period, and their family treasure was this garden, so this was protected as the family treasure from the Edo period.  

   Next we went to the Kanazawa Castle.  This castle is connected with Kenroku-en by a bridge called Ishikawabashi.  Under this bridge, there is a very busy road, but in the old days there was a moat surrounding the castle.  Now the main entrance is Ishikawamon, which is situated at the end of the Ishikawabashi, but the original one was Kahokumon, which is situated in the north part of the castle.  The castle was burnt down in the middle of the Edo period, because of the foehn-phenomena (hot and dry strong winds from mountains).  In the Edo period, this phenomenon brought many fires to Kanazawa.

  1. The problem for tourism

   In the 14th of March, the Shinkansen (the Japanese bullet train) came to Kanazawa. Because this arrival, more tourists come to Kanazawa than usual and now Kanazawa is one of the most popular sightseeing spots in Japan. 

   Since Kenroku-en and the Kanazawa Castle are situated in the center of Kanazawa city, they are known as the most famous popular places in Kanazawa and many people come there.   I felt that, although they are famous visiting places in Kanazawa, many people don’t pay attention to their true meanings, their backgrounds and histories: I strongly felt that in Kenroku-en.  I came to think that not so many Japanese might have thought deeply the meaning of the name ‘Kenroku-en’.  If we rethink the name, and understand the meaning of it in the actual space, I’m sure we can get a feeling of what Kenroku-en is. 

   In addition, in the south part of Kenroku-en, the outside of formal gate, there are some important sites to see: Kanazawajinja Shrine, Hosyoike Pond, and Kinjo Reitaku Sacred Well (Fig.5).  And in the south-east part, there are Old Ice House Remains (Fig.6) and Yamazakiyama. These sites are useful to understand the history of Kanazawa, but not so many people come here.  When I think of the reason why there are few people around these sites, I came up with three reasons: first because each site is covered with a lot of trees, so it is not easy to recognize for people that sites are there.  Second the former sites are actually in the land of Kenroku-en, but in the admission of free space.  Because of this location, there is a possibility for people not to notice their existences.  Third each site is far from the main entrance which exists in the north part of this garden.  Because of this problem, many tourists who are limited by time feel difficulties to go there. 

  1. Conclusion 

   This internship was so useful for me, because I could find some of new perspectives to Kanazawa from the sites I’d already known.  Today many people come to Kanazawa from not only all around Japan, but also internationally.  I think now is the time to think again and to make some efforts to these sites which tell us important history of Kanazawa: how to use these sites more effectively and how to preserve them from the public more practically.  Owing to these efforts, I’m sure many people will be able to get the ‘true Kanazawa’ in the future. (Natsumi AKO)