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Published: April 11th 2016
The train trip from Kyoto to Takayama was very scenic, steep forested mountains in the background and in front hosts of daffodils and cherry blossom, which is still in full bloom in the colder mountain air. While the cities of Japan are densely populated, 73% of the land is considered uninhabitable and once you get into the mountains you really see a different side of the country.
Takayama itself has a pretty old town with lots of Edo-era wooden buildingS. Adding to the picturesque setting, it actually snowed lightly while we were walking around today, which was rather pretty and made our subsequent retreat to the hot spring even more enjoyable
Takayama is famous for its festivals and we visited the float museum but we're very happy that we saw the Inuyama festival which is less crowded and appears very similar. More interesting was an amazing scale model of Nikko, the shrine north of Tokyo where Tokugawa Ieyasu is buried. We wanted to get to Nikko but didn't have time and I think the model may have been better than the real thing. It is an enormous room with the dozens of ornate buildings all at table top scale and exact
replicas of the buildings at Nikko, right down to the ornate carvings on every surface. The model took 33 carpenters15 years to complete and is a real work of art. Some buildings even have strategically placed mirrors so you can see ornate ceilings just like those in the original.
The best part of Takayama was the amazing ryokan we stayed in last night. It was just perfect in every way - beautiful traditional decor, lovely comfortable futons, amazing service and the most delicious kaiseki dinner and breakfast presented like a work of art and explained by an English- speaking hostess who had spent a working holiday in Australia and even said 'No worries', a very non-Japanese expression. Ryokans provide guests with simple cotton kimono called yukuta and an older Japanese lady taught me how to tie mine properly. For women, the yukata uses two belts, one under the bust and one at the waist with a special fold and cover between. She was very exacting about it, moving my breasts into the right position so it felt like having a bra fitting. Full formal kimono are much more complicated with many more layers. Men's dress is, of course, much simpler.
The yukutas are very comfortable and Danny thinks I look quite Japanese and hard to find in a crowd. He is easy to find - I just look up, though I don't think that will work in a generation as the younger Japanese are much taller than their elders.
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