Published: May 11th 2009May 9th 2009
It's a pretty quick and beautiful trip from Inuyama to Takayama; which was where my historical Japan tour was going to end. The limited express train goes through some beautiful gorges and the weather was nice and sunny. It was the prefect day to go around and enjoy some more samurai district history and everything that goes with it.
Or so I thought. Apparently, Golden Week started that day and it was packed. Hard to move, hard to see things, and more importantly, I was pretty disappointed in the city as a whole. The samurai district; which is what the city is famous for, was really touristy and most of the interesting things....really weren't that interesting, in my opinion. I would duck into shops and they were all selling the same thing. I would try and find a decent restaurant and they were all selling the same thing. I would walk down the little blocks and they would be packed and really difficult to walk down. After only a couple hours I kinda gave up on the city itself. I saw everything and that was it. Nothing really special there at all.
Except for this museum that I went
into. It was made from an old merchants house and business quarters and it was really interesting. There were exhibts on old lanters, the evolution of childrens toys, old pictures of women, along with fashion, old maps, and a real mix of home goods and little signs in English to explain what most of it was. I spent a good hour in there. It was really fun to read the signs and see what they had on display.
I spent the rest of the day checking the internet and then moved onto my hostel; which was in a temple. My roommate was really nice and I met some really nice people and had a good night walk around town. Much better walking conditions than when I was out earlier.
I headed out to Shirakawa-go; along with the rest of Japan it seems, as my final stop before I moved onto Korea. The area is famous for the thatched roofs of the old farm houses. It's a popular destination for people on vacation and it caused a traffic jam that made my 50 minute bus ride more like an hour and 45 minutes.
The area: packed
with people. The houses: really nice and interesting. Those roofs are over a meters worth of sticks put together to keep rain and snow out. An open air museum lets you walk around a bunch of them, some almost 3 stories tall, and others 1 story. I had fun walking up all those old steep stairs and seeing the surrounding area. Snow was still on the peaks of the surrounding mountains and it set a rather dramatic backdrop for the houses.
Across a wide walking bridge are the rest of the houses you can look through and numerous shops you can visit. While Takayama was touristy on a small scale, Shirakawa-go was touristy, but on a much more tolerable scale. With more things to see and more places to duck behind and enjoy the views, it was much more to my liking. While busy, it wasn't crazy busy after you had been there for about 4 hours. I spent a good 45 minutes relaxing by the river and snoozing before my bus returned me and the rest of the day trippers back to Takayama, with only a slight delay this time.
That night, back in Takayama, I went
to the local sento, of public bath, so get a nice soak after a long days walking. I met my roommate there, where we had the strangest encounter with an older local woman. I did not bring a towel into the bathing area with me because I didn't need one and when I had been before, I didn't see many of the other ladies with them. I came in and started washing, when this old lady came up to us and started telling us we needed a small towel to help wash us. I said I understood and she nodded and went back to bathing. She left the bathing area while we were soaking and when I got out, I left the baths and moved into the locker room. I didn't have a towel so a stood by the door for a minute to get most of the water drops off me before I went to my locker. That old woman got so angry with me that she tried to dry me herself! Then she yelled at me for getting wet spots all over the floor and kept telling me this wasn't my house and that I couldn't do that.
I finally told her I understood and that I was sorry before she went outside and started complaining to the lady taking money about it! When I roommate and I left I talked to the lady, apologized and she said not to worry about it. It still bothered me for the rest of the night.
All in all, it was a good end of the trip. Just not the ending I had been hoping for.
There are more photos below