Kanazawa has grabbed national spotlight with the opening of the Hokuriku Shinkansen on March 14. But the capital city of Ishikawa prefecture already attracted global attention four years ago. The web version of Travel + Leisure Magazine picked Kanazawa Station as one of the world’s most beautiful train stations in 2011. It was among the 14 such stations the U.S. magazine listed, including Gare du Nord in Paris and St. Pancras International in London. More recently, Fodor’s Travel, a company of major U.S. publisher Penguin Random House, also chose Kanazawa Station as one of the world’s 20 most beautiful stations in May 2014. None of the other stations in Japan were selected by the two travel journals.
What makes Kanazawa Station so special is “Tsuzumi-mon,” a vermillion wooden gate, at the east exit of the station. The two pillars of the artistic gate are shaped like traditional Japanese hand drums “tsuzumi. ” The instrument is used in “Noh,” a form of classical Japanese musical drama, which has been promoted by local lords in Kanazawa since the Edo Period.
The top of “Tsuzumi-mon” is linked with a huge glass dome called “Motenashi (Welcome) Dome” that looks like an umbrella. The concept of the dome is offering umbrellas to visitors to Kanazawa, which is known as an area of high rainfall. “Motenashi” means hospitality. The dome uses 3,019 panels of reinforced glass. The 17-billion yen project to renovate the station was completed in 2005.
Just outside the gate, there is one more notable feature attracting visitors – the fountain clock. Instead of lights, the clock uses small streams of water to display the time like a digital clock. In addition, the high-tech valve system allows the fountain to show short messages in both Japanese and English, such as “WELCOME” and “KANAZAWA”. In November 2014, U.S. cable network CNN selected the Kanazawa station fountain as one of 15 of the world’s most spectacular fountains.
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