The Little Town of Takayama

This morning’s journey was all about exploring the lovely old town of Takayama.  We took the backstreets to get a better view of life in the town.  Again, we saw very few actual people, but we did see some interesting architecture, including his and her’s doors, some beautiful Japanese gardens, a Japanese Akita dog (in fact, there were quite a few of these gorgeous little babies being walked) and a dad playing soccer with his kids.

This was all on the way to the open air morning markets which we were really looking forward to.  Perhaps they’ll be like the Tsukiji Markets in Tokyo?  Maybe they’d be like the Onicho Markets in Kanazawa?

Then we found them….. Bless their hearts.

IMG_4924

There were about 10 stalls – mostly selling the same thing.  We made sure we looked at every stall.  We thought about purchasing the cute little yellow, strawberry shaped coin purse, but thought better of it.  We did purchase a humungous apple from a lady who peeled it with a special peeler, then cut it up into bits and popped a stick into the slices.

Jenny and I have a special gift, if you can call it that, where we often turn up or go into an empty shop and within about two minutes, the crowd follows us in.  The apple stall was empty when we arrived…… the photo at bottom right is the stall as we left.

You’re welcome shop keepers.

Now, I don’t know who this chap is, but he was obviously some sort of samurai warrior based on his dress and large sword, but I don’t know how good of a warrior he would have been based on his choice of footwear.

The rest of the morning was spent meandering up and down the old houses, which have mainly been turned into tourist shops, but it was still lovely.

They are quite dog firendly here… the first sign says:

“no pets allowed – please leave your pets at our pet place.” – there’s a pet place!

The second sign, not so dog friendly, but if you have him in a cage, I think you’re ok.  Or perhaps you’re just out and about with your budgie or your iguana?

Most of the shops/houses have lovely garden displays at the front door, or they have a tranquil garden behind the shop… even the man hole covers are pretty.

These little beauty buns are apparently a Takayama specialty.  They’re like a steamed pork bun that we all know and love from yum cha, but these ones were filled with beef…. unless you’re a woman, then they recommend the more femine black sesame and sweet bean paste as it says on the sign.

We went for the beef.

There were tiny doors (note the cushion at the top for head bumping), little seats outside to sit and eat your beef bun, little windows selling their wares (this chap was flogging a crispy rice biscuit that he dipped in a sticky soy sauce and shops full of Japanese bits and pieces.

Me Jenny lives in Perth, well Mandurah which is generally quite warm for most of the year.  In the winter, we might get down to maybe 12 or 13 degrees with perhaps a low of 5 at night maybe once or twice a year….. anyway, Me Jenny – she loves a scarf, and a coat while we’re at it.  She’s got hundreds of them because she buys one whereever she goes, but never gets to wear them unless she blasts the air con.

There was ban on her purchasing another scarf, but then we came across this pretty little number and you know what?  You only live once – so a purchase was made.

Space in these little streets is very tight, but they use the space very well.  Having a tiny, mini car helps a bit too.

There’s no reason for these next two photos.  None at all.

Here was something we saw heaps of – barber shops and something that was very rare – an empty vending machine!

We are 10 days too early for the Takayama Spring Festival.

In April when the snow on the mountains which surround the basin of Takayama melts away and solid ground reappears, Spring finally comes to Hida Takayama. As people joyously celebrate the new season, the sound of drums from festivals in nearby village shrines echoes in the clear Spring air. The largest festival, the Sanno Matsuri, which is held on the 14th and 15th of April is hosted by the Hida Jinja Shrine. It is popularly known as the Takayama Spring Festival. Every Spring, people from all over Japan come to Takayama to celebrate this special festival.

The festival is thought to have been going since about 1586 and is regarded as one of the three most beautiful festivals in Japan – they don’t like to boast!

Big floats are made for the parade.  We passed this one which looks pretty finished and across the road, a roller door opened and there was about 10 people looking over at it – they were obviously about to start building their own.  You’ve got 10 days peeps – good luck to you.

IMG_5003

There were some absolutely beautiful houses and buildings in this area…….

Then there were a couple of shockers!

I mean, this is when the police should be called.

IMG_5031

This whole country is definitely made for tiny people who don’t require a lot of space.

This here is Tanuki – the Japanese racoon dog.

IMG_5028

He’s Eddy Everywhere!

He has been significant in Japanese folkore since ancient times – some would call him legendary and he is reputed to be mischievous and jolly, as master of disuise and a shapeshifter (Star Trek, Deep Space Nine anyone?) but he’s also meant to be gullible and absentminded.  There are cereamic versions of him outside most pubs and cafes, presumably to bring luck or good fortune.

This is what the real Japanese racoon dog looks like.  How cute is that? I wonder how strict Australian customs would be if I popped one in my suitcase? – I’d be sure to make it onto Boarder Patrol!

adorabletanuki.jpg.653x0_q80_crop-smart

The streets kept going and going….. a little like this post, but I want to make sure you don’t miss out on anything!

This street leads up to a shrine – you can just see the gates in the distance…

IMG_5034

But as we feel like once you’ve seen one shrine, you’ve pretty much seen all of them, we opted to stop and have a cup of tea.

The Japanese green tea was served in a very special cup that was made by the owner of the cafe’s son.  We’re not sure how old the son was or when he made it, but it was so special that the chap came out to us especially to tell us about it.

Then it was a slow walk back along the river… We wondered if the little house in the middle was the first house and the others built next to him, encroaching on his land, or perhaps there was a little plot of land where the town planner might have got the maths wrong, but he’s squeezed in there quite nicely – you only need one windo for a river view!

The next pic shows a house that is built slightly on an angle requiring a stake to keep it from falling into the river….perhaps another maths oversight?

 Then there’s this shop/restaurant with a pig out the front (?)

I forgot to mention in the last post that our hotel does not allow shoes to be worn in the hotel at all, so each room is assigned a locker where you take your shoes off in the foyer and pop them in the locker.  The wheels of your case are also wiped before you can come in.  This is great for keeping outside dirt out, but when you have literally busloads of people all trying to put shoes on in the foyer area – she can get a little messy.

I caught one guy in there this morning putting his shoes on in the locker room – a big no no.

I joked “ooh, you’re going to get in trouble putting your shoes on in here.”  He replied, without a hint of a smile, “I’m leaving, so I don’t think it matters.”

I think the point of the exercise and a sense of humour had eluded him.  Perhaps he need a damn good onsen to help him relax.

IMG_5067

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s