Organizing office outings might sound like a pain, but it’s a challenge I willingly took on this year – mostly because I can put the places I want to see the most, on the top of the priorities list. Instead of heading to Tokyo, I rigged our Japan itinerary so that we headed straight to Kanazawa. It’s not without reason that I picked it though! Kanazawa Castle is a wonder to behold, after being burnt down several times, the castle was restored in 2001 using traditional methods. Kanazawa is also home to the well preserved Higashi Chayagai (Higashi Chaya District), where geishas used to entertain their customers.
And I’m pretty sure my colleagues who get to follow my itinerary won’t protest the main attraction, the winter wonderland that is Shirakawa-go! A UNESCO World Heritage site with one of the heaviest snow falls in the world, and one of two places in central Japan where you can see gasshō-zukuri (合掌造り) style homes, which were created to withstand the heavy snow.
The overwhelming excitement of seeing snow had me in its grips even when I was in Jakarta. It might not be a big thing for people who grew up with it, but I grew up in a very green, tree-filled mountainous area in a tropical country. Go figure. I asked my friends who had gone previous years about what to prepare for, and I was randomly excited at seeing cheap-ass winter coats at Ambassador Mall. I’m not ashamed to say that I even gloated to bored friends who tuned out immediately when I kept saying I’d be playing in the snow very, very soon.
As soon as we stepped foot at Kanazawa Station, snow had not yet begun to fall, but the air was crisp and cold, and the wind drew shivers down my spine. The Indonesian in me immediately wanted to hunker down over a hot bowl of Indomie noodles and chilly slices, eggs over easy right on top. The temperature was 6°C, but I was frozen not because of the weather. Stepping out of the station allowed me to bask in the gloriousness of Kanazawa Stastion’s beautiful architecture, with its steel dome and a gate that’s shaped like a tsuzumi (Japanese drums).
While we slept, magic came in the night to transform Kanazawa, and even with the heating turned to 30°C, we knew something was happening outside. It was hard to miss, because even with the heating maxed out, the sudden turn to 2°C was noticeable! Ha! Did you think I was actually talking about magic?
Okay so maybe it was close to magic. Snow had blanketed Kanazawa! To say I was thrilled is an understatement, it was the first time I ever saw snow. I ran around poking and smacking the piles of ice, which felt exactly like the shaved ice desserts we had back home. I had to curb the urge to find Coco Pandan syrup to pour over everything. A voice inside of me constantly screeched, “snooooooowww!!!” like an over excited little boy. It got me feeling giddy over the thought of what awaits us at Shirakawa-go.