Friday, July 09, 2010

Takayama and Shirokawago

It recently came to my attention that we only have one more year here. Until now, I feel like we have been rather lackadaisical in our approach to travel. Well, no more. With the count down on, I have a new goal of taking at least one trip per month. Our June trip was to Takayama in the Japanese alps. The kanji for Takayama is surprisingly simple, it is just 高 and 山 which mean high and mountain, respectively. We took a 5-hour bus to get up to our high mountain and checked into our ryokan in the middle of the afternoon on Friday. Upon check-in, the room has a low table and chairs. Then while we are at dinner, it magically turns into a pair of comfy futons.

Around the ryokan, we wear our yukatas. I like this hotel's pretty green ones.
Downtown Takayama is home to narrow streets of traditional dark wood buildings, where you can buy things like sake, traditional fans and shoes, and tasty bits of the local specialty "hida beef".
Each old building seemed to hide a secret garden within.
Takayama is also known for its folk village, where they have restored some thatched roof A-frame houses from ancient times. It is an open-air museum that you can wander around at your leisure.
The folk village (Hida no Sato) in Takayama proper has a nice small collection poised around a quiet lake. There is also a much bigger town with the same type of old farmhouses about 50 minutes away called Shirokawago. This town actually has a full-time live-in community (though probably centered around tourism).
It rained quite a bit on the day we went. But that likely kept the crowds at bay, which was fine with us. The town of Shirokawago appears to be fairly self sufficient. Below is a rice paddy and below that I think maybe onions or garlic.
Back in the day, they used to keep silk worms. Several of the big thatched roof houses have museums inside, including this one that shows how the silk worms were housed...
...and sake and rice were stored.
We ducked into this cute coffee shop, with its wagon wheels and thinking man, to sit out the rain.
You can sit right up to the window and look across the field to the shrine. The proprietor keeps a little notebook on the counter so that guests can doodle and write a greeting. Lots of international guests come to Shirokawago it appears. This makes sense because it is apparently a UNESCO World Heritage site. We had no clear idea what that meant, so spent a good chunk of time sipping our coffees and looking up lists of World Heritage sites on Ryan's iPhone. The U.S. has 20 (do you know any of them?) and Japan has 14. Italy and France have been spoiled with 44 and 30, respectively.

1 comment:

  1. Very nice report! Enjoyed seeing photos you took. If you liked Takayama maybe you would like to join us at

    Thank you for writing about Hida Takayama!