Day 4: Takayama

Today was a very good day for sightseeing. I woke up really really early, at 4am, and forced myself to go back to sleep until 6am because it was damn cold even with the heater, and there is nothing to do so early. I feel asleep last night at 7pm exhausted and sore watching the Japanese discovery channel, so I actually slept quite a few hours. The Japanese version of Discovery Channel is actually very good haha, they had a program on sea life where they used time lapse and high speed cameras to show things like star fish moving, and great white sharks jumping out of the water. Anyway eventually I got up, and got ready for the day. Although I had been feeling a bit sick yesterday, today I felt well and quite invigorated by the nice sleep despite the hardest bed I’ve ever slept in and a beanbag pillow (I do not recommend the Washington Plaza Hotel in Takayama -_-) I went down to the local convenience store to grab a breakfast of a couple sandwiches, yogurt, and tangerine juice (yummy) at $5 this is about as cheap as you will find breakfast in Japan. I then checked out and had the hotel staff hold my luggage while I went for a stroll around snowy Takayama’s Old Town Sanmachi District.

The Sanmachi District is famous for its old Edo Era houses and shops some dating back to 1600. The narrow streets were lined by old houses and shops, and even some traditional sake breweries. The architecture is much like what you imagine when you think old urban Japan, and it was really a highlight of the trip so far. There were also a number of shrines and the old provincial capital building is now a museum. Just outside of the old provincial capital building they have a morning farmer’s market, which according to both my travel site and book was not going to be open at this time of year, but apparently it is. I bought a little ornament for my mom of the local icon that can be seen everywhere in Takayama, even on the bento(japanese boxed lunches usually of meat, rice, and an assortment of Japanese veggies). I then went further down the road and hiked up into the Teramachi District which was mostly residential, but home to 20 or so temples. The walk was difficult because of the ice and snow and my lack of proper shoes for icy road surfaces. The view looking out over Takayama was really quite stunning and my photo doesn’t do it justice. The walk down by a steep, narrow staircase covered in a foot and a half of snow was also quite picturesque, though I found myself flat on my ass a couple times XD. After returning to Tokyo station I began the second part of my sightseeing in Takayama, a trip to Hida-no-Sato.

Hida-no-Sato is an open air museum of traditional buildings from the region that had been dismantled and brought to this site. The grounds are well kept, and just stunning with the blanket of snow that had fallen in the last couple of days, and I took far more pictures than I have shown here. You’ll need to check the high rest directory linked to at the bottom of the page to see them all. The place is a collection of 12 houses, and buildings like rice refineries, wood and miso store houses, temples, among others. Most of the buildings you could walk around with your shoes off, and had glass cases with tools and house wear from the era. Most of the houses also had lit Iori(hearth) that also gave off a pleasant smell. I enjoyed walking around the grounds, though I must say, don’t stand underneath eves and trees with snow (._.`). It was also very nice that I met a French Canadian family that travel all over the world every year. They said this year they are going to Thailand, China, Malaysia, and Vietnam. They spoke a bit of English, and I was able to fill in any gaps with my French. Not having anyone to talk to other than over AIM when I’m back in my hotel during the night can be a bit frustrating at times, having a friend along would make these long train rides more pleasant and its always fun to share experiences like today with someone.

After my touring for the day I got back into town by 12:30 and got tickets to Kyoto, which sees me in town at 5:30. I won’t have time to see Kyoto’s many sights today, but my day and a half in Osaka the following day without much to see, means I can leave Kyoto late tomorrow after seeing what I want, and arrive in nearby Osaka by Shinkansen(bullet train) after 45min and not miss a whole lot.

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