Takayama -18th April
We were up, had breakfast and checked out of the hotel by 6:45 am. No mean feat if you know me at all. Our limited edition express train to Nagoya (stopping at Takayama on the way) left Kanazawa at 7:23 am. We were there with plenty of time. We have found the Japanese trains to be exceptionally efficient, comfortable and fast! We did pay the extra money to travel green class and are grateful that we did. There is a heap of leg room and we have our seats booked, so we know we will have our seats reserved.
This train was not a shinkansen, which meant that we could enjoy the scenery flashing past our window. We had to change trains at Toyama. Luckily we were able to ask a person from the train station who directed us to the next train as it wasn’t easy to find independently. We made it in time though and settled in for the next section of the journey. It was a very picturesque ride. We arrived into Takayama at 9:23 am, so a pretty short journey.
We headed to our hotel, which was only a 5 minute walk from the station. We were too early to check in, however they had a luggage storage facility. We got organised and headed out into the town. This town is so pretty! We stayed right next to a shrine, so that was my first stop to get my stamp and check it out. The cherry blossoms are only just starting to open here and they are so beautiful. We found out about the Sarubobo – which translated means baby monkey. It was a tradition that mothers would pass to their daughters / children to wish them happiness and success in life. These handcrafted creatures are everywhere.
I wanted to go to the historic section of town, so headed towards the river. They have a morning market every morning and we were lucky enough to be there on the day when the market was right next to the river. There were lots of people with lots of local stalls. It was such a beautiful place and a true sense of a Japanese country town. It actually reminded me a little bit of the Blue Mountains west of Sydney. We wandered through the markets and bought some different things. The first thing that we tried was a hiyoko-mochi. It was so nice and looked cute too. As we walked on I noticed the Sarubobo attached to branches. I really loved it, but knew I could not bring branches back to Australia. I asked the lady if she had them separately and she did. I was so pleased as I can attach them to a stick back in Australia. Further along a lady was making Taiyaki. They looked delicious so we decided to try a couple each. They were yummy. There was some people selling apples (it looked like it was from their farm). We bought some that had been peeled and cut into pieces and stood by the river munching on taiyaki and apples. Bliss!
I then found a shop that had the coolest souvenirs. I bought some carp streamers and a Sarubobo for each of the boys. Just a small one wishing them success, money and victory. Our last stop in the markets was a stall with some Japanese treats. There were some made out of peanuts, white sesame and black sesame. We tried them all, but we didn’t like the black sesame ones. We bought a packet of white sesame and peanut ones. The gentleman selling them spoke very good English and told us that he had made them himself.
We left the market area and headed down the river to a Tori gate that I could see. We walked along the street that had beautiful old homes on both sides. It also had canals with water racing down it, heading to the river. The cherry blossoms were truly beautiful. We walked up the street towards the shrine and had a look at this peaceful and serene setting, There was a walk around on the hill and we tried to find the starting point, but couldn’t see it, so we wandered around this area instead.
It was really pretty. We headed back into the old section of town and wanted to find somewhere nice to have lunch. We went to the tourist information located in town and they directed us to 3 different restaurants. We ended up going to Le Midi. It wasn’t cheap, but it was beautiful food. I had some sparkling wine and Phil had some beers. We were heading back to our accommodation as we were exhausted.
We met a lovely couple from England who started talking to us – Nicola and James. They thought that we were some people that they had met the night before, so we just started chatting. They were so lovely. We headed back to the accommodation, checked in and had a snooze for an hour.
We went back out to take some photos in the late afternoon light. Unfortunately, it was cloudy, so the photos weren’t great. We couldn’t believe what a difference a couple of hours could make. There was hardly anyone around and hardly anything open at 5:30 pm.
We couldn’t find a small café open for dinner, so headed to 7-11 to pick up some sandwiches. They were out of sandwiches! I got a salad and Phil got some other things to eat and we headed back to our hotel. As we had been leaving the hotel we had wanted to know from the receptionist what time they finished. This lovely lady had been able to translate for us. We discovered that the receptionist finished at midnight. All good. We’ll get the extra pillows when we come back. When we returned, we were trying to explain what we wanted. Luckily for us, right at that moment, the lovely lady, who spoke Japanese, arrived into the lobby as well. We were able to explain what we wanted and she could translate it into Japanese. We got the pillows and the extra blanket (as Phil likes it so cold). We then started chatting to the lovely lady, whose name is Marieka. She is from Belgium and is a registered tour guide in Australia. We ended up sitting down and she had a cup of tea, and we had some soft drinks that we had bought. We chatted for a couple of hours before bidding farewell. We are hoping to catch up with her when she comes to Sydney in October.
Back up to the room and get organised, ready to leave Takayama in the morning. We updated a blog post and got ready to go, We both slept surprisingly well.