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FIVE THOUSAND MILES One Prew's adventures in Japan. April, 2014.

Day 8: Takayama

I slept fine in my cosy blanketed floor futon and woke to the sound of rain at 6am. It sounded like it was raining a lot but I think it was just emphasised by the pond and stream outside, just a few metres away.

I had my full Japanese breakfast at 7.30am. I ate most of it but I am definitely generally more of a toast and/or cereal for breakfast person! I mean, as a non-meat eater, I wouldn't eat a full English anyway but not a fan of the veggie variations either. So anyway, it was nice to have and nice to try but give me a buttery slice of toast and large black coffee any day and I'll be content. There was coffee… instant. But better than none I suppose. I did however remember to take my phone with me, so there is photographic evidence of this breakfast and the ‘dining’ room.

I left the minshuku probably earlier than I needed to but there wasn't much to do whilst hanging around so I wandered back through the village, admiring the surrounding mountains shrouded in mist. It wasn't actually raining and although cooler, definitely wasn't cold or unpleasant. It was very quiet in the village and most shops weren't open yet.

I went back to the information centre, also where my bus would depart from, and bought a coffee – from a proper coffee machine at a food kiosk so not quite instant. I also bought two things in a souvenir shop. I think I must have been the first customer of the day as the nice shopkeeper lady gave me two bonus foodie things – an apple pie and a chocolate pie biscuity things. I bought a little model of a gossho house and a mini sarubobo, the town mascot (similar to those below). It was a keyring but with one of those sticky things for attaching it to a window – my car window perhaps.

I didn't have a reserved seat on the bus to Takayama but did manage to get a window seat, although most of the journey was through mountain tunnels again anyway!

The bus arrived in Takayama just before midday. I picked up a map from the information place next to the bus station and tried to work out what to do/where to go.

n the end I just walked off down the main road away from the station. I started with some aimless wandering, photographing the streets and a few amusing things that caught my eye – like these Hello Kitty business woman advertisements.

I found the Hida Kokubunji temple. The oldest temple in Takayama with a three-storied pagoda alongside a very old tree.

From there, I walked down the main street lined with lots of shops and restaurants, over the river, looking for nothing in particular. Just enjoying taking in the new sights.

Another example of my super zoomy camera here.

I am not actually sure what this building is…

But it had the Tokugawa shogunate family crest adorned on the gate.

After that I made the vague decision to head in the direction of Shiroyama park but stopped off at a lot of places a long the way. I had my most expensive meal so far for lunch – just over ¥2,000 although that did include a beer. And anyway that's not expensive, I'd just been eating cheaply up to that point.

Also, it wasn't even a Japanese meal I had! I had a salad with scallops and bread. I don't think I've ever had scallops before – maybe tried one but not had in a meal – and I thought they were delicious. The food was well presented, although I forgot to take photos until I'd already started eating. And as it wasn't a Japanese meal, I used a knife and fork which was strange after getting used to chopsticks!

Below is the restaurant from the outside.

After my lunch, again heading for the park, I found the famous red bridge – Nakabashi.

Eventually, I wandered up hill through some backstreets hoping I was going in the right direction of the park, and if not at least it was a good view of the town.

You may notice that orange building is next to the red bridge in a previous photo. In fact, if you look closely, you can see the bridge in this photo.

Thankfully it was the park that was at the top of the hill. Although, when I say park, it was more like a woods with some cleared areas. I snapped some photos of the view down to central Takayama and the Japan Alps all around, then stumbled across Shorenji Temple.

I thought it looked very rundown compared to other temples I'd seen on my trip. But perhaps that is due to the fact that they had to move the temple all the way from Shirakawago in 1960!

A different crest – not the Tokugawa shogunate.

A leafy an unkept shrine but no less interesting.

This little squirrel was adorning a map of the park. Cute.

Around the corner from the temple was a children's play park with a large statue of a man (Kanamori Nagachika) upon a horse in the centre. There were also more good views from here.

Check out all the bridges, including the Nakabashi red bridge!

I didn't have time to wander around the whole of the park, I imagine it is rather large, so I took a different route back down. The route ended up being more off-road than the way up but I knew I was heading in generally the right direction even without signs.

At the bottom I found another temple and bell tower.

I then worked my way towards the station and where I assumed my hotel was. I didn't even make it back the station before I realised I had ended up in exactly the right place – completely by walking random backstreets. The hotel looked impressive from the outside with it's own temple-style gate with lanterns and landscaped garden bits up to the entrance.

Inside I checked in and found that my suitcase had been safely delivered to the correct place, hurrah! It was a modern Japanese-style hotel with 13 floors including a hot spring/bathing floor and a free noodle bar. But I guess the thing that made it most Japanese is that, aside from the entrance hall, the whole building had tatami mat flooring. This meant that you took your shoes off downstairs and put them in a locker, then walked around in socks.

My room was on the 11th floor with a great view of the town and surrounding mountains.

The hotel didn't have any wifi available (thisactually ended up being the only place where I didn't have wifi access in my whole trip!) but there was a free computer to use for Internet access on the 2nd floor. I used this briefly just to let the world (particularly mum and dad!) know I was alive and well, and also to check the weather. Incidentally I'd managed to get quite a rosy sunburnt face despite it being cloudy for two days prior!

I had dinner arranged for me in the hotel restaurant at 8pm. Had I not forgotten dinner was included, I might not have had the lunch I did! But by 8pm I was certainly hungry anyway. Good thing too because it turned out that dinner was a buffet which worked out quite nicely.

I mostly had vegetables with some salad, a piece of marinated salmon, tofu, tempura prawns/veggies. They also brought me a tasty miso/egg soup with clear noodles and, strangely, a small portion of spaghetti with a sauce similar to pesto although it tasted slightly different. It was weird trying to eat spaghetti with chopsticks, I just treated it like noodles. I particularly liked the mini cheesecake-style thing for dessert. Yummy!

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