The futon… A 4cm thick matress typically used in ryokan… We even used two because we were concerned by it’s comfortableness.
Well, I can’t recall a better sleep in the last few years. Amazing.
I just realised we didn’t post any picture of our room yesterday. Here they are in two configuration.
Breakfast time! As we arrived yesterday we had to decide which kind of breakfast we wanted: Sara went for the traditional Japanese while I opted for the more cautious international.
The international was quite simple: egg, ham, coffee, a toast and a kiwi. Light but enough (i still have two Dorayaki in the room eheh).
The traditional was more complex: miso soup, a lot of veggies, tofu, tea and a miso paste that was cooking on a magnolia leaf to then put it in the rice.
Both breakfasts were a pleasant way to start our day. With our full bellies we went straight to the city to seize the day.
All the guides and articles found on the web recommended to go to Kamisannomachi, the main street of the old town, early in the morning to enjoy the view without the crowd of tourists.
It was indeed better than yesterday, and if you mentally remove all the wires hanging over your head and the asphalt below your feet you can somehow imagine what life was like during the Edo period.
The street is full of little shops that sell handmade goods, so we got our first (small) souvenirs.
When backpacking everything you buy weights on your shoulders, so we sadly couldn’t buy any of the local sake bottles.
Instead we decided to try everything the food shops had to offer, starting from a local miso soup (very popular in the area).
The difference between the people in Takayama and the ones we’ve met in Tokyo is astonishing. Not only they are more relaxed (reasonable since we are in a smaller city) they also are extremely kind and gentle. When taking pictures of the craft in the shop they would thank us repeatedly and try to explain in any way (mostly using signs) the items they were selling. They usually also ask where you come from and then they thank you for coming this far to visit their city.
As we went towards the next place in the list, a morning market, the tourists wave started to rise. We noticed that there were only few occidental tourists like us, while the majority were from China.
We finally reached the market, where we tried more foods like takoyaki (balls of batter with cooked octopus), taiyaki (fish shaped batter filled with different flavours of cream ranging from chocolate to beans) and then a skewer of small balls of rice pudding covered by soy sauce and grilled. Screw the diet!
Apart from the food, we had the opportunity to experience a breathtaking view of all the cherry trees blossoming by the river.
We also noticed that strollers are not very popular in Japan, except if used to carry dogs.
We also wondered why toy puddles are so popular here, since most of the dogs we have seen since we are here are of such breed.
After the market, we went to check a giant structure we could see from the river. The structure ended up being a very huge torii of the close Sakurayama Hashimangu shrine.
We took some pictures and went to check this shrine.
It is the first of a long list of shrine this city has to offer trough the Higashiyama walking course, and Sara was really enthusiastic about visiting them all and get some stamps from the monks!
Unfortunately all, believe me ALL, the shrines were closed. Well we could have expected it, it’s Sunday, and we are entering the golden week. That meant no stamps for us!
Even being closed to the public, most of the shrines had their outer gates open, allowing us to enjoy their gardens.
We were almost at the end of the walkway when we heard thunders… coming from our stomachs. Apparently all the small snacks we had didn’t fill us up, so we decided to go back to the city to grab some meat filled buns.
We wandered around the streets randomly, and this was for sure one of the best parts of the day.
You get to see the everyday life of the people living there, whether they are energetically washing rusted nails in a bucket or working on their farms. Whatever they are doing, they always stop to greet you with a polite bow.
Randomly following the sakuras on our path, we ended up in another beautiful (closed for our joy) temple. The Hida Gokoku Jinja shrine was surrounded by sakura trees and we took plenty of pictures of it.
Did I already mention our innerselves were rumbling? We went back to the crowded part of the city and bought the first edible thing we could find to calm down our hunger. We ate two buns, one with our loved red beans and black sesame and the other with pork and onion.
Maybe it was because we were really hungry, but the buns were outstanding. We really like red azuki beans, but they often disguise ad chocolate because of their shape and color! We were more than once fooled by the brownish color of a filling to then find out it was not chocolate when biting.
Enough with our broken chocolate dreams, back to the day. We grabbed some other snack at a 7 eleven close by, and then went for our final goal, the Takayama Jinya.
Sara was disappointed by the fact that there weren’t enough English descriptions in the museum. Moreover we had to leave our shoes at the entrance as the entire building floor consisted of tatami, and our feet were getting really cold.
We than decided to hurry up and finish the visit in order to put our shoes back on.
Since we were not freezing enough, we went for a green ice cream that we saw everywhere in the town. The ice cream was a green tea flavoured one, and it actually tasted great!
At one hour to our train departure, we went back to the ryokan to take our backpacks and went to the station were we waited. This time the trip includes a relaxing stop in Nagoya of 7 minutes. The right time to jump off a train, run like crazy in the underground maze that is every Japanese station, trying to decode the timetable displaying the trains in Japanese and guess the platform of our next train.
Against every odd, we made it on time.
Before closing this post I would like to make one out of context consideration: after almost one week spent in Japan we realised that there are no trash cans around the streets. If you buy something to eat, you may end up walking with garbage in your hand for a couple of hours before being able to actually trash it somewhere.
This is due a terroristic attack happened in Tokyo in the 90s, where the terrorists hid a sarin gas bomb in a trash bin killing 12 people and injuring thousands (Source).
Time to sleep now.
See you tomorrow for another post.