2012 Japan Trip Day 26 – Takayama

Date of Travel: 24/02/2012

I must say, after the frantic travelling in Kyushu, Chugoku and Shigoku, the relaxed nature of the Chubu leg was welcoming. Unfortunately, today marks the last full day we would spend in this region. Thankfully the weather was good unlike the previous day of light but annoying rain. We kick-started the day by hitting both morning markets in Takayama. The first was located next to Takayama Jinya; the former local government office. There wasn’t much to see at this market as it was pretty small, so we didn’t spend much time here.

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The second market was located along the Miyagawa river. It had a lot more shops and was busier than the previous one. There were also more permanent stores along the canal, which made for more distractions! We were also unable to find a convenience store to grab breakfast from, so I bought some unique food from around the market area instead.

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Our next planned stop was Yatai Kaikan, but we got side-tracked by a number of giant tori gates. We followed it past Yatai Kaikan and found ourselves at the Hachiman Shrine. There wasn’t terribly much to see at this shrine, though we appreciated the spaciousness of the area.

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After snooping around Hachiman Shrine, we finally stopped by Yatai Kaikan around noon. This place houses a number of the festival floats used in the Takayama Festival, which is one of the most well-known festivals in Japan. The amount of detail put into each float was incredible. Each of those floats really did look like an incredible piece of art.

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Admission to Yatai Kaikan also includes admission to Sakurayama Nikko-kan, which houses a miniature model of the Toshogu Shrine in Nikko. I had been to the actual shrine on my previous trips to Japan, so it was amazing seeing how accurate these models were. Each tiny detail, from the individual roof tiles, to the guardian statues, the paintings of birds on the exterior of the halls, and the decorations of the Yomeimon gate, were all included. It served as a nice teaser for Brownie and J.C., as we were going to visit the actual shrine in person later on in the trip.

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Brownie and J.C. wanted to see another Castle Ruin to the east of town, while I wanted to explore the town area itself. Hence, we split up once again, and agreed to regroup at the accommodation at about 5 pm. I started off by finding some lunch nearby. It was the first time I had mochi with soba noodles. Must say, it was unique having the texture of mochi with something savoury!

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I started off my exploration of the Old Town Area by visiting the Yoshijima Heritage House at the northern end. The building used to be a sake brewery, but had since been turned into a museum. Unlike the other historical buildings at the various open-air museums we had visited over the past few days in Ogimachi and Takayama, there was plenty of light coming through the exposed attic. This allowed guests to see and appreciate the interior architecture more. The rest of the building featured wide spacious tatami mat rooms, a small garden, and facilities which were used to brew sake in the past.

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Most of the rest of the afternoon was spent wandering around the Old Town Area. Like Gion in Kyoto and the Chaya Districts in Kanazawa, this area was lined with old traditional buildings. Many of these buildings are now used as souvenir shops, sake breweries or restaurants. It was a nice pleasant atmosphere walking through these streets. Many of the souvenir shops were selling similar goods to what we had seen previously in Ogimachi, but there were a number selling more unique goods too, so I would recommend definitely spending time and having a good look through the area.

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As there was still some time after exploring the Old Town Area, I decided to explore Takayama Jinya, as it had looked quite interesting when we visited the nearby morning market earlier in the day. Like with the Yoshijima Heritage House, majority of the rooms in this complex featured large spacious tatami mat rooms, most of which surrounded a central garden. There was also a room showcasing torture devices used in olden times…not pleasant stuff.

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My camcorder batteries ran out soon after exploring Takayama Jinya. As I wanted to explore and take more photos of the Old Town Area at night, I decided to head back to our accommodation to charge the batteries while planning the route for the next day. Brownie and J.C. returned about half an hour after our agreed meeting time, but I did not mind as we had nothing planned anyway. When it got dark, we headed to the Old Town Area together. Like with Ogimachi, there was an eerie feeling walking around the area with almost no one else around. After finishing up, we walked along the main shopping arcade to look for dinner, before heading back to pack and prepare for the next leg of our trip.

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Daily Expenditure

1) TRANSPORT
N/A […hopefully this becomes a regular thing?]

2) ACCOMMODATION
J-hoppers Takayama – 3,000 yen

3) FOOD
Breakfast – 950 yen [Rice cake with miso, apple, honey egg white thingy and hida beef takoyaki]
Apples – 472 yen
Lunch – 850 yen [Chikara soba]
Caramel flavoured pocky – 90 yen
Rice crackers – 370 yen [ebi flavour]
Dinner – 800 yen [ramen]

4) ATTRACTIONS
Yatai Kaikan entrance fee – 820 yen
Yoshijima Heritage House entrance fee – 500 yen
Takayama Jinya entrance fee – 420 yen

5) OTHERS
N/A [Need to save money at times right?]

TOTAL (cost for whole trip in brackets)
8,272 yen (487,640 yen total)

Total Cost of Chubu Leg
59,207 yen (9,868 yen per day)

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