Blogs from Gifu, Japan, Asia

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Asia » Japan » Gifu November 16th 2019

Our visit to Magome and Tsumago, and the hike between them along the Nakasendo Trail in Kiso Valley, was probably the highlight of Japan for Clement. It did make for an excellent, if long, day trip, but the long travel times from Kyoto means that it would really be better to explore as a long weekend. There are various cultural events during the year, including some Kabuki performances, that would be worthwhile to plan your trip around. And staying in one of the beautiful inns in Magome would undoubtedly be a highlight of your trip to Japan. Magome and Tsumago are two post towns along the old Nakasendō, a foot highway that connected Tokyo and Kyoto during the feudal period. The two towns are amazingly (and lovingly) well-preserved and atmospheric, with narrow lanes and low-slung dark ... read more
Classic Train
Ekiben
Magome

Asia » Japan » Gifu » Shirakawa-go May 13th 2019

Sleeping on the floor was not as difficult as I thought it was going to be. Our problem was that at 5.30 am the sun was streaming through the blinds and we were awake! Breakfast for us was served at 8 am in the Banquet Hall. It was off with our shoes as we padded across the tatami mats to our waiting table. Breakfast was a salad, fruit and a couple of croissants. This was a continental breakfast. The coffee was incredibly weak! Thankfully Don had made me a coffee in the room before we came down or I wouldn’t have been able to function! Then we went down to reception to get the shuttle bus to the bus station where we had tickets for the one hour drive to Shirakawa-go. Shirakawa-go is a world heritage ... read more
snow covers mountain above Shirawa-go
Shirawa-go suspension bridge
Village Concept of Shirawa-go

Asia » Japan » Gifu » Takayama May 12th 2019

We left our Tokyo hotel at 9 am and got the free shuttle to Shinagawa station where we caught the Shinkansen (bullet train) to Nagoya. The ticketing system is quite something else. You put all your tickets (in this case two) into the machine together and one gets stamped and they both get returned to you. The bullet train journey was 1 hour 37 minutes and it was exactly on time. At Nagoya we put all three tickets into the machine and it spewed out the two that we needed to continue on the scenic railway to Takayama. . The scenic railway began by following the Aichi route. On the way we passed Inuyama Castle. This is said to be the oldest castle in Japan. Building commenced in 1440 and was finished in 1537. For some ... read more
potholes in river ravine
Kosher Japanese Sake
old Takayama wooden shops

Asia » Japan » Gifu » Takayama July 13th 2018

It was a beautiful, but hot day in Takayama. After breakfast, we wandered around the old town. There were two markets to see- one very small, local produce and the other, more touristy and commercial products. We prioritised these first as they were only on in the morning. We sampled Taiyaki, a fish- shaped sweet snack, cooked from a batter and filled with various fillings (we tried the chocolate, custard and cheese). They were tasty. We also tried so many more samples of sugar coated peanuts, in more flavours than imaginable. We bought some as a gift of the plum wine ones (our favourite). I bought some lovely handbags, cloth, sweets, snack, liqueur, sake and more for gifts for people at home. We had a lovely day, meandering around the old town. It was a beautiful ... read more
Takayama, Japan
Takayama, Japan
Takayama, Japan

Asia » Japan » Gifu » Takayama July 12th 2018

The day began with a final onsen and special farewell breakfast at the ryokan. We awoke to rain which followed us all the way down from the ryokan to the station in Gora...typical. Then we began the day of train travel, firstly from Gora to Odawara on the Tozan Railway. This was followed by a Shinkansen journey from Odawara to Nagoya. Before getting on our bullet train we were able to see just how fast the limited express Shinkansen train was going as three of them flew through Nagoya station. The old expression of blink and you will miss it was true in this situation...Fi was able to capture it on video which lasted all of 5 seconds or so. We were supposed to catch a further express train up to Takayama however the recent rains ... read more
Takayama delights
Takayama
Takayama

Asia » Japan » Gifu » Takayama July 6th 2018

There are days that you look back on and wonder how things turned out the way that they did. Today was one of those days. We began with a simple plan - catch the train to Toyama, transfer to the fast train to Tokyo, catch the plane home and we're done. The plan was so simple we decided to go for a wander to the market to see if there was anything we couldn't live without. Turns out there were some shops that we hadn't visited yet and some things that we absolutely needed to get before coming home again so it was a productive trip. From there is was back to the Ryoken to finish packing and a quick taxi to the train station and everything is going according to plan. It was at this ... read more

Asia » Japan » Gifu » Shirakawa-go July 5th 2018

The room here is beautiful with rice paper walls however, rice paper does not make for a very good curtain and the sun comes up around 4:15 here. After pulling the window shades closed and removing every possible entry point for light, Brett tried to get some more sleep without much luck. Despite having reasonably good sleep for most of the trip, we have been getting up very early every day and we can't even blame the time zone difference as were only 30 minutes different to normal. We were booked in to do a trip to Shirakawa-go which is an UNESCO-listed village with 300-hundred-year old, thatched-roof houses with only 140-odd people living there. After a quick walk through the morning market, we wandered to the bus stop and took the hour-long trip to the first ... read more

Asia » Japan » Gifu » Takayama April 18th 2018

Ray and I had visited Japan before so this time we avoided all the big cities and decided on 3 traditional Japanese towns - Takayama for their Spring Festival, Miyajima for the famous Shinto Torii gate and the historical Nikko, which happens to be near the Ashikaga Wisteria Flowering Garden - our main reason for this Japan trip. We flew in to Nagoya from China and spent one day there to take get our Japan Rail passes and exchange some currencies. We only had time to visit the Nagoya Castle. The original castle was built in 1532 but suffered through several demolishions and rebuilt. In 2018, they restored the Honmaru Palace with its elaborated and gold guilted painted panels. An English speaking volunteer guide took us around and gave us a good lesson about the history ... read more
Restored Palace
The restored painting panel in Nagoya Castle
A small shrine

Asia » Japan » Gifu » Takayama April 9th 2018

A series of mountain towns give a flavour of smaller-town Japan. Our first stop is at Matsumoto, as we’re told the castle is worth a stop but the town has little else to capture you. We find ourselves charmed. The bus and train stations converge on the main city square, which create s hub for narrow, chararacter-filled streets with odd turns and bends. A colourful variety of shops, from musical instruments to bakeries to stationery made window-shopping fun. We pop into a coffee shop and I’m immediately drawn to a small display of fanciful post-cards, with playful scenes of children and cats - I pick out a few for our grand girls, only to find that the artist is the young woman serving us our kohi. We bought more and she signed them all for us. ... read more
Matsumoto castle
Yuki and her artwork
Festival float

Asia » Japan » Gifu » Takayama October 9th 2017

Hello my fellow travellers! Today Bárbara and me left quite early to have as much time as possible in Takayama before we had to return to Shizuoka. First we took the shinkansen (bullet train) to Nagoya where we switched to an express train bound for Takayama. When Junko first asked me to go to Takayama with Bárbara I read up a bit about the city since I didn't really know much about it beforehand. I learned that the Takayama Festival (Takayama Matsuri), which is the third largest festival in Japan, is held here at this time so that's why I switched my plans around to allow for this excursion. However, Junko's and Bárbara's plan for this trip was for us to go to Shirokawa-go to see the historical villages spread out across that area. However, because ... read more
Hida Folk Village
Praying to Buddha
Former House of the Hozumi Family




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