07.11.2009 - 07.11.2009 22 °C
After a restful sleep it was time to pack the bags and get ready for our trip to takayama. But first breakfast. The room came with a free breakfast so we headed down to see what we could find to eat.
On offer was a mixture of japanese and western fare. The japanese fare was clams in soy sauce sitting inside a triangle of rice. We try to be adventurous with food while travelling but clams first thing in the morning is something I wasn't quite up for so corn flakes and pastries it was.
Breakfast out of the way it was time to see if these tickets actually worked so we headed across the road to the station. The guy stamped both tickets and we made our way to the platform. We boarded the train, picked a random seat and prepared for the trip to takayama.
The trip to takayama is around 90mins by train and contains some of the most beautiful scenery you could hope for. During autumn the trees are awash with colour and there seemed to be something to look at the whole way. I managed to not play with my iphone or my computer for the duration of the trip.
We arrived at takayama around 9.33am expecting to meet the shuttle bus that would take us to the hotel. Unfortunately the bus runs every hour on the half hour which meant we either wait for the 10.30am bus or we take a cab. We went with the latter, which thankfully only cost 1120yen. We dropped off our bags and grabbed the shuttle back to town which left at 10.10am.
First on the agenda was the hida folk village. This is basically a preserved village from the edo times set in the mountains amidst a beautiful forest. Essentially what they have done is taken intact buildings from around japan and moved them to this locale as a sort of museum of japanese architecture.
The village is around 3km's from the centre of takayama up in the hills. You can either take a bus or walk and we decided to brave the walk. We find when travelling some of the best things to see are the things you find accidentally while on the way to somewhere else. This was no exception, we took a little detour on the way up the mountain and found these quaint little stores. We first stopped at a pottery store and bought some platters, chopstick holders and a few cups. Next was a kimono store where vanessa bought an obi.
We arrived at the village and paid our 700yen entry fees and proceeded inside. It really was a beautiful sight. There is a lake as a centre piece in which you can see coi carp trying to beat the swan to the breadcrumbs other visitors were throwing into the water.
We wandered around the village for a good couple of hours looking at the various buildings and seeing what life might have been like living in a village during those times.
By this time we were getting hungry and footsore so decided it was time to head back. Now the whole time walking around the village we could see in the distance a massive shrine (world shrine). And there were hundreds of people on it's step so we debated whether we had the energy to go check it out or give in to our stomachs and head back to town for lunch. We decided to go for a look at the shrine and so began the next leg of our journey.
After about a further 25 min walk we arrived at the shrine only to be turned away and told to come back next week as there was a private ceremony on. (50th anniversary of the grand autumn festival). By this time it was around 1.30pm so we'd been on our feet for around 4 hours straight. With this in mind we decided to take a cab back to town and managed to hail one out front of the shrine.
First priority was getting something to eat so we entered the first place we saw directly across from the takayama station. Probably not the best idea in hindsight. Menu was pretty limited and we both went with a slice of pork on rice that came smothered with mayo. It was alright I guess but there was probably much better on offer if we had looked a bit harder. We washed it down with two suntory malt beers and prepared to check out old town.
Old town is an area of town where the buildings have all been preserved. It's basically a small block of merchant shops set amongst narrow laneways which were quite packed with peopls checking out their wares. We wandered around before taking up the offer of free sake testing inside one of the sake breweries. The sake we tried was quite pleasant, but we decided to gamble on a different bottle to take back to the hotel with us. (a bit too fruity for my liking)
Old town is not very big so once we had wandered around for an hour we decided it was time to head to the hotel and chill for a bit. By this time it was 3pm and we were quite exhausted. We took the free shuttle back to the hotel, checked in and promptly crashed out on our beds. That night we didn't have the energy to go back into town for dinner so ate at the hotel. The japanese options were far too expensive (5000yen for sushi etc) so instead we went to the lounge bar and had bar food. Which was not particularly satisfying but got the job done. Time for an early sleep.