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  • Writer's pictureDonna Zabel

Tale of the Dragonfly

Updated: Oct 26, 2020

Why on earth were the charming young girls, beautiful in their rented geisha outfits, clustered around my long-retired, white-bearded, balding husband? Giggling and pointing, excitedly taking photos. One would think they had just encountered a rock star, something my husband is not, although he was enjoying the limelight. Standing on his left side I did not see what all the fuss was about—until I walked around to his right side. There, planted firmly on the side of his cap, ignoring all the exclamations and fuss, was the most gorgeous dragonfly I’d ever seen. Its bright green eyes were incandescent, his long wings defined the word “gossamer”, his long body draped the cap from earlobe to chin. He (the dragonfly) was spectacular and he was enjoying the limelight as much as his tourist landing post.

We attributed this amazing phenomenon to a very hot, sticky-sweaty day and the residue on my husband’s cap from one of Japan’s most famous breweries, conveniently located close to Kanazawa’s Higashi Chaya Machi district. However that did not account for the local excitement. We found the answer on another day in Sakaiminato, in the museum dedicated to the many manga created by the artist Mizuki Shigeru. There we found drawings and depictions of this beloved creature. The Japanese love their dragonflies and it was a sign of good luck that this one decided to share his day with us.

In the historic Edo period, the Higashi Chaya Machi district was for upper-class enjoyment, with elegant geishas and wood paneled tea houses. Now the streets are crowded with tourists in one of Japan’s busier cities. There is a lot to see in Kanazawa—more than possible in the one day a cruise allows--but we did our best.

Our day started with meandering the paths of the famous 17th century Kenrokuen Gardens. We strolled past lakes and trees of varying textures, signs pointing out a special cherry tree and majestic pines. We saw the oldest fountain in Japan, walked the stones of the Flying Wild Geese Bridge, admired the ancient tea ceremony building, and circled the Kanazawa Castle remains. Our now daily green tea ice cream cone helped refresh in the heat—for a short while.

At least, long enough to find the Oriental Brewing Company. Considering its fame in Japan, the brewery was surprisingly small. The award-winning stout, brewed with a tea finish, was very tasty (and cold!), and perfectly salty edamame just the right snack. Being properly refreshed enabled the short walk to the old geisha district and my husband’s fifteen minutes of fame. We sometimes wonder how many Japanese cell phones now have a photo of an elderly American tourist graced by a beautiful dragonfly.


· The circle bus card goes to most of Kanazawa’s main sights. Purchase the card at the bus/train terminal for easy hop on/hop off touring.

· Start early at the Kenrokuen Gardens, before the crowds and the heat become too intense.

· The Oriental Brewing Company is just a block from one of the bus stops. Google maps will be helpful to navigate the winding streets.

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