Japan 2018, Osaka, Himeji, Nara, Takayama, Shirakawago, Kanazawa, Tokyo

Day 44: Shirakawago

We spent the morning in Takayama, quickly walking through the morning market along the river, which didn’t have a lot to offer. We then followed a path on the edge of town passing different temples and shrines, most of which were small and also didn’t have much to offer. At one point there was a rainbow, even though there wasn’t any rain at all.

As we still had time before our 11.50 bus, I was thinking of walking out to see the all dominating shrine I mentioned yesterday, but was sidetracked as I saw a sign for the festival float exhibition hall. Every year Takayama holds a spring and autumn festival where 11 or 12 floats are paraded through the street. This is a 350 year old tradition and is ranked as the 3rd best festival in Japan.

Five floats were being exhibited, and very impressive they are, which is difficult to see from the picture below.

In the museum next door there was a model of a shrine in Nikko (close to Tokyo). It is 10% of the actual size and took 33 carpenters, 18 years to make. The level of detail is amazing, and the pictures below are only a small subset of the whole model.

We picked up our bags and queued for the 11.50 bus to Shirakawago. After Hida village yesterday, Shirakawaga is the real thing – thatched roof wooden houses where people actually live and have lived there for ca. 250 years.

They are called Gassho-zukuri, which means “constructed like hands in prayer”, as the farmhouses’ steep thatched roofs resemble the hands of Buddhist monks pressed together in prayer. The architectural style has been developed over many generations and is designed to withstand the large amounts of heavy snow that falls in the region during winter. The roofs, made without nails, provide a large attic space used for cultivating silkworms. The village is spectacular, and overrun by tourists.

The bus trip is short but very expensive, probably due to the road and toll. I have never before experiended as many tunnels, most several kilometers long, one after the other. When not in tunnels, the scenery resembled the Alpes. (The pictures below are taken from an observation point on a hill overlooking the village).

We managed to change our onward ticket to Kanazawa so we could get an earlier than planned bus. When we arrived, we arranged train tickets for our journey to Tokyo tomorrow evening – using the rail pass for the last minute. Kanazawa is regarded as one of Japan’s most beautiful cities, and first impressions, with tree lined streets, is very positive. The station is very futuristic, with a roof like an umbrella – I’ll try to remember to post a picture tomorrow.

Late lunch today.

I am writting this in Starbucks, whilst Yanmei is taking a bath at the hotel.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *