23 April 2018

Takayama & Shirakawa-gō



After Tokyo we took a step back in time traveling by train to Takayama, a smaller town nestled at the base of the Japanese Alps. The trip takes about five hours but the train from Nagoya to Takayama passes through beautiful scenery snaking along a river nestled between two mountains. 

It was so much colder here than Tokyo and I was glad I brought as many warm weather pieces as I did. There was snow in the mountains and very much felt like spring hadn't yet arrived here. We stayed at the cutest guesthouse not far from the JR station which had a house cat named Luke who was such a cool cat :)




Takayama has a historic old town that has been preserved and gives you a glimpse into what Japans towns were like back in time. The photos don't do it justice. The wooden buildings are beautiful and  walking along the river is a nice way to take in the afternoon before the sun goes down.

From Takayama we rented a car and drove into the mountains to access Shirakawa-gō, a UNESCO world heritage site filled with traditional thatch roofed farmhouses that once were used to raise silkworms. Since we were up in the mountains there was snow on the ground and I felt like I was wandering through a sleepy winter Smurf village. 





Sarubobo is a doll without a face made of cloth that can be found all over Takayama. Traditionally they are given to daughters or grand-daughters when they get married and are thought to bring protection, a happy home/marriage, and easy childbirth. You can buy them of many shapes and colors but they are typically red. We came across a sort of shrine to them with a large brass sarubobo that you are supposed to rub in the area that you wish for good luck or blessings. Many would rub  the stomach for fertility blessings. 






After Shirakawa-gō we drove onward up into the Alps passing by turquoise alpine lakes and ski resorts on our way to an onsen, or hot spring. Although I don't have any photos, I definitely recommend finding an onsen during your trip to Japan. It is a great way to unwind and relax while traveling and embrace a piece of Japanese culture. After three nights in the Japanese Alps we returned our rental car and took the train back to Nagoya and headed for Kyoto.

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