Sunday, October 9, 2016

Japan September 2016 - Part 8 Takayama

It took me quite a while to decide whether to visit Shirakawa-go via Takayama or via Toyama. Both cities have something interesting to see. After much information gathering, contemplating, and of course, gut feeling, I decided on Takayama.

Thus, after our overnight stay in Nagoya we took an early train to Takayama. That morning we had breakfast at Tully's coffee below the hotel. Tully's coffee is like Starbucks... we go there out of convenience. I usually try to avoid them but they are open early and are usually located very conveniently.


Our train from Nagoya is quite special, and was one of the reasons I chose this route. It is called the Hida Wide View train featuring large windows, enabling you to see the beautiful view between Nagoya and Takayama. From Nagoya to Takayama, if you sit on the right side you will be able to see the Hida river first. The left side will get to see it later. Both sides are equally beautiful.

We took the 8:30 -ish train to Takayama, it gave us just enough time to catch a little glimpse of the famous Takayama morning market. They were just wrapping up when we got there. If you want to have more time browsing the market, you will need to take an earlier train.

Hida Wide View train

Inside Hida Wide View train

From Takayama JR Station, we headed over to the bus depot to buy our bus tickets to Shirakawa-go. We tried searching for a locker to leave our suitcases overnight but they were all full! Later on, we figured out that we just had to wait until a bus arrived. When buses arrived, it meant some people arrived and some would pull their luggages out from the lockers. So we were lucky to be able to do just that and parked our suitcases overnight. We already packed a day's worth of clothes in our backpacks to take to Shirakawa-go. Oh the joy of travelling light!

We walked through the main streets of Takayama towards the river to get to the morning market.

The market was just closing down but we caught the last little bit of it!

PM0:00 meant NOON

It was our lucky day! When we were there, they had a Food Festival going on. The closed off a street and had tents set up selling food and drinks. It was very lively!

Make note of the picture on the bottom right corner in this photo below. I will mention it again lower on this post.

Black garlic. Regular garlic smoked in a room for months until they turned black.

One of Takayama's main tourist attraction is the old town, the whole 3 blocks of it. Supposedly all of the houses there were kept in its original form. I think one can compare it to Gion area in Kyoto. There were many sake brewers in Takayama and you can visit them in the old town. We walked through one street but then got really hungry so we changed our directions and went to find a place to eat.

After trying to get into several restaurants and found lineups, we ventured a bit further and decided on a small restaurant and ordered their local pride: Hida beef. Hida beef is very famous among Japanese people. The one we tried at the restaurant was pretty good, though I think the Shizuoka beef we had at Kaneyamaen hotel was better. To be fair, though, we ordered the cheaper version of Hida beef.

After lunch, we headed back to the food festival area because DH wanted to try one of the coffee sold there. It was drip coffee but dripped directly over ice. Good one!

We then walked back towards the station/depot and browsed the souvenir shops there. Their local souvenir is Sarubobo, a good luck charm in the shape of a monkey. You will see a picture of it in my next post. One thing I didn't get to try and kind of regretted it was the hida beef sushi. It was like nigiri sushi but with raw hida beef on top. Oh well, maybe next time...

Now do you remember the picture I asked you to make note of earlier above? Look at these two photos below and see if you recognize it!

A special mention here: DH was very excited to see this Alpha Romeo

A restaurant menu on the outside wall

A little after 4 pm we boarded a bus to head to Shirakawa-go. And that would be on the next post. Thanks for reading!