Lesson 20: Tipsy in Takayama

Dear readers,

As some of this post is about drinking Sake, then I thought it would be appropriate to write this post while sitting in a bar (Yes, that is the excuse I’m going with) . I’m currently in the Rigoletto bar in Gion (which I visited yesterday) and have ordered a sweet basil Gin n Tonic.

So back to my adventures. I left Kanazawa still suffering from my head cold. My walk to the train station was pretty uneventful until I was stopped by an elderly gentleman, who grabbed my hand and shook it quite enthusiastically. He asked me where I was from and welcomed me to Kanazawa. I told him that I thought the city was wonderful and he beamed at me saying I was the best girl in the world. My heart was a little warmed as I continued to the station.

My train ride to Takayama was unfortunately not as comfortable as I had hoped. I was only able to reserve a seat one part of the journey and the rest was a bit of a free-for-all. The local train to Takayama was a small 4 carriage train and I seemed to have chosen a peak time to go.

After depositing my suitcase somewhere I went to look for a seat. Luckily there was one seat free which I took. 

I was sitting next to a large group of tourists from another Asian country – I’m afraid I couldn’t say from where. Unfortunately as the train was so small, there was aquire an unpleasant smell from all the different foods people had brought on. A mixture of curry, sauce, spices and fruit drinks. What made the journey worse was the fact that everyone closed the curtains… So I couldn’t enjoy the stunning autumn scenery.

Luckily my day soon vastly improved when I arrived at Takayama. My host, Tai – owner of the Soy Guest house, was waiting for me at the station. He took my luggage and brought it to the car. He informed me that I was the only guest for the night and asked if I would like to join him and his family for dinner.

I told him that would be a dream, even if I was a little nervous.

He then dropped me into Takayama and we arranged for me to be picked up at 1800.

Takayama is a very old mountain town with some lovely old buildings. Tai had told me that the souvenir shops close rather early so I decided to hit those up before going on a photoshoot. 

I’m not a huge fan of souvenirs. I guess I’m a bit stingy. I have bought a lot of stuff but mainly from department stores. Plus I always check if the products are really “Made in Japan” and not “Made in China”. 

The old town was beautiful but unfortunately a bit crowded. Takayama is the place to be this time of year. I explored it for a while before retreating to the parks. 

The colours were again stunning and I was able to get a few good photos before the sun went down. The weather was definitely turning and I could feel an autumnal chill in the air. At about 1730 I slowly made my way back to the train station to meet Tai. 

The stay at Soy Guest House definitely counts as my favourite part of the holiday so far. Never have I been met with such warm hospitality.

The guest house was about a ten minute drive from the centre but the distance was worth it. 

I arrived and was taken into the main cafe and told to sit in front of the log fire, which I did… gladly.  The house is a converted silk warehouse and has three guest rooms. In the day it also functions as a cafe. 

After filling out the registration form I was shown to my room, definitely the biggest I’ve had so far. There was a bedroom with a large double bed, a bathroom with a huge lush bath and upstairs was my own personal living room. The electric fires ensured that it was as cosy as could be. 

At 1900 I went for dinner with the family. I sat with Tai and his parents. The dinner had been cooked by his mother and it was absolutely delicious. A mixture of steamed vegetables with pork and chicken. Tai also served me about 10 glasses of some delicious Sake. I felt the effects after I went to my room and fell into a wonderful tipsy sleep.

The next morning I woke up a little groggy (can’t tell if it was due to the sake or my stubborn flu) and pryed myself out of my warm cosy bed – a massive feat if I may say so. I went down for my traditional Japanese breakfast before discussing my day with Tai. 

At 9 he dropped me down to the Hida Folk Village, an open air museum of old Japanese houses. I was lucky to arrive early as I had the place almost to myself and could enjoy the houses at a leisurely pace. 

I’d highly recommend the Hida Folk Village as a lot of the information is written in English (in comparison to a lot of other museums I’ve visited). The houses are also free to enter. However I would try to get there before the tour busses arrive because I can imagine it getting very crowded very quickly.

At about 11 I headed back into the town to get some lunch. Here you may choose to judge me however you want but I was desperately craving some fries… So I went to McDonalds. I’d be punished for it later.

I met Tai at the train station at 1230. When we arrived back I realised that my purse was missing. I started to panic but knew where I had it last. With an embarrassed and heavy heart I told Tai that I was last in McDonalds (told you I’d get punished). He proceeded to phone them and they informed him that they had indeed found a purse. He drove me back and I was very happily reunited. I swore then and there to never visit a McDonalds again.

After all the excitement I was exhausted and spent the afternoon sleeping, watching Downton and writing the blog. At about 5PM I was introduced to a new guest – Kate from the UK.

After nearly two weeks by myself it was quite refreshing to spend the evening with someone. Kate and I went to a restaurant where I ate the local speciality – Hida Beef. We ordered a beer and two small bottles of Sake. The meal was excellent and came to about 20 CHF a head, making it even sweeter.

We decided to continue drinking and Tai took us to a local supermarket. We headed back and spent a great evening in front of the fire getting slowly Tipsy. It was great to exchange stories. Tai’s mother brought us some snacks and we drank until about 10PM. Knowing we had to get up early for our trip to Shirakawa-go we decided to be sensible and head up to our rooms. Again I fell into a slightly Tipsy sleep and had some interesting dreams.

The next morning after breakfast Tai took us to the bus station. I was feeling a bit grumpy and wasn’t actually looking much forward to sitting on a crowded tourist bus for an hour but decided to go with it. 

Shirakawa Go is a historic village and UNESCO Heritage site. It really is worth a visit. Despite being in a crowded bus, the village didn’t appear too crowded as people were discovering it’s many paths. 

I really loved discovering the place with someone and I probably enjoyed it more than I would have had on my own. I was able to take some more stunning photos and create more happy memories.

I eventually said goodbye to Kate and headed off to the station to make my way to Kyoto. 

Takayama was beautiful and I’ll probably stay at the guest house again – although I think next time I’ll hire a car so I can discover the area a lot more.

Thanks for reading!

Laura

Xoxoxo

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