Skip to main content

Takayama washout


Nine years ago to the day we arrived in Takayama without a place to stay, not realising that it coincided with the Takayama Matsuri, one of Japan's three most beautiful festivals. Fortunately the staff at the tourist office found us a room and we had the pleasure of watching the enormous wooden floats being hauled through the night streets ridden by young drummers and flautists and accompanied by marchers.


Finding suitable accommodation was a lot harder this time and initial bookings split us between distant hotels for the two nights. Fortunately, there were some late releases of rooms and I got us two nights in the Best Western Hotel. We were looking forward to sharing the parade with Alex, the spectacle of lights and noise. It appeared like plenty of other foreigners were here for it too.

Unfortunately, the weather had other plans and it drizzled or showered all day. The floats were left in their tall halls, though the doors were opened for some to be shown.

Portable mini shrine with rain cover
There is still plenty to enjoy in Takayama, but first we had our own washout by taking our clothes to a coin laundry near the post office. The huge machine, rather expensive at Y1,200 for 70 minutes, was a combined washer and dryer and our clothes actually came out dry, an improvement from the coin laundries at hotels.

While the clothes were washing we walked to the Jinya mae morning market and enjoyed a breakfast of freshly cut apple and mitarishi dango, skewered rice balls grilled with local sweet miso sauce. We purchased a pack of local miso too. Last time we were here, back in 2008, a pregnant B couldn't tolerate the smell or flavour of miso, but it's a wonderful addition to many dishes.


A number of streets in Takayama have retained their old brown wooden buildings, which house restaurants, craft and produce shops. Alex decided that he too loved miso soup after sipping on a sample provided in one shop. We bought various crackers too. Along with woodcraft, embroidery and sewing are popular crafts in the region and Alex was so cute when he asked to buy a little rat toy, appropriate as most of the range of animals related to the Asian zodiac and he was born a rat.





Returning with our clean clothes and shopping to the hotel, we went out again for some lunch at Bandai Kadomise, a meal of more Hoba Miso for B and I and tempura for Alex. Miso enhances the already rich flavour of the Hida beef and grilling it over a flame is perfect meal for a cold day.



On we wandered through the old streets and along another where a long row of colourful stalls had been set up to sell typical Japanese festival food, including takoyaki, yakisoba, batter pancakes and chocolate bananas. Alex had a go at a cross between pinball and bingo where the objective is to the balls into a line of holes. No luck, though he did enjoy his consolation prize of loom bands.






Alex got a shock when, avoiding an oncoming car, he stepped into an open drain. Fortunately, the water was shallow as some alongside the street are quite deep.

As the floats would likely not be making an appearance along the streets we visited the Festival Floats Exhibition Hall to view some of these massive structures up close. I thought that the museum could have done with more multimedia of the parade itself rather than just the static displays of retired floats.


Our tickets included a visit to the Sakurayama Nikkokan, which contained exquisite model recreations of the colourful shrines at Nikko, north of Tokyo. After a quick climb up to look at the Sakurayama Hachimangu Shrine we returned out into the rain to try to catch a marionette performance on one of the floats in the sheds. Sadly, we just missed out on what must have been only a short show. Last time it went on for ages. Maybe we'll have to come back with Alex another year.










He was sitting outside a beef bun shop, his name and age provided.

We were all exhausted by this stage and collapsed into bed back at our hotel. Except for Alex who used up the battery on the iPad.

It was getting close to seven in the evening when we struggled out of the hotel again. We weren't terribly hungry after snacking on small items, including a bowl of Hida beef stew and skewers of beef, most of the afternoon. On a side street near the food stalls we found a little restaurant where we had small meals of local noodles and beef rice.




We returned to the hotel along by the "scenic route". The historic streets were shuttered and dark but for the festive paper lanterns strung up along the way, giving a very mysterious air to the quiet paths. More lanterns lit the western side of the red Nakabashi bridge, where the parade would have started and ended. It was quiet now, but for what looked to be a media crew ensconced in one brightly lit corner.







Though the parade had been cancelled there was still a festive air about Takayama, already a town worth visiting for its preserved history and food. It's difficult to leave without gaining something from here, even if it's only in the belly.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

A lazy day at the beach

It's 2am and somebody is still setting fireworks off on the beach in front of the hotel. I can't see the explosions as I have the window shuttered, but I can still hear them. I've wanted to have a lazy day and today was the closest I got. I woke up in the night from a very sad dream. Dreams follow crazy paths, but this one resolved itself as so. An entity had been causing disruption of computer systems around the world. It turned out that this entity had emerged from the computer networks and had been struggling to gain access to more computing power so that it could live. The entity had taken on the persona of a woman. The protagonist who had "defeated" the entity discovered that it was alive, spoke to it. Ultimately fell in love with her. But his prior actions would lead to its death. As a gift to her he downloaded his memories so that she could experience life even as she died. I know it sounds like a pulpy sf or technopunk plot, but dreams are about feeling

The sound of running water

We made it home from Osaka. There is a special feeling that comes when your arrive at your house after a holiday. It is utter relaxation. No longer do you need to worry about other language or customs. There is no need to look up directions, to plan out your day, to journey between sights. Then again, you now need to clean up your own mess, to make your own bed. Rather than eat out you need to cook your own dinner. The shower is weak and the toilet doesn't wash your bum. And you need to wake up early tomorrow morning in order to spend a day at work. You are back to your old routine. Looking back upon this holiday in Japan I've decided that the theme of running water has applied to each of the days. Sunday - Arrival in Osaka - washing ourselves Japanese style Monday - Matsuyama - water from the hot springs at Dogo Onsen Tuesday - Takamatsu - waterfall at Ritsuen-koen Wednesday - Tsumago - streams of water throughout the town Thursday - Takayama - the sounds of rushing water e

Insanity at 40,000 feet - Part 2

We could relax for a moment. The gate lounges at Kuala Lumpur's LCCT were crowded, but our gate was not yet open. Once it was we quickly made out way outside for the long walk to the aircraft. The terminal offered no air conditioned respite from the tropical weather outside and we were perspiring on both sides of the gate. It's a pity that taking photos on the tarmac is forbidden, because the tropical evening sun cast a beautiful orange-gold light. Our flight to Singapore was on an AirAsia A320, the workhorse of a low cost carrier. The legroom was shorter, but still adequate and the width felt greater than their longer cousin we had just flown. Alex sat at the window and was excited to see the world outside, chattering loudly. Captain Raj gave a detailed, but clear, explanation of the flight, listing runways and routes like an aircraft enthusiast. We launched into hazy grey skies that were soon dark for a very typical hour long flight to Singapore.