2.5 hours from Kyoto is the capital of Ishikawa Prefecture, Kanazawa. A small city known for its deep history of culture and the sophistication of its taste, this is the place to come to see some of the splendid craft work of Japan, most notably lacquer, painted silk kimonos, bamboo plaiting and gold leafing. So out of the foreign tourist loop is it that, with advance planning and the right contacts, you can not only have a journey through a remarkable world of artisanal beauty but you can also meet the performers themselves.
We focused on the art of the painted kimono and watched the whole complex process underway in the atelier of Hitoshi Maida. We then visited the Ohi Museum with its generations of ceramic tea bowls and then, with the 10th generation Toshiro Ohi ceramist, we attended a tea ceremony in his house.
The day ended at an extraordinarily beautiful ryokan Onsen one hour west in Yamashiro, Beniya Mukayu. A Relais & Chateau property that has been in the family of Sachiko and Kazumi Nakamichi for three generations, Mukayu is a temple to wellness, balance and inner peace. Each room has its own outdoor hot spring bath in addition to the communal bath for the 17 rooms. A lovely spa (open until midnight), yoga, natural garden, Zen meditation room and menus composed of the freshest vegetables drawn from the mountains of Ishikawa and fish from the sea, half an hour away. My day ended with a late night massage but that was preceded by a two hour kaiseke dinner featuring snow crab in many forms. Incredible!