Japan 4 – TAKAYAMA …..March 2014

Takayama – a time capsule from the Edo period

A few days in the mountains. Glimpses from the train through the drizzling mist indicate spectacular scenery as the train winds its way upward through forests and alongside clear streams. Snow is still on the ground.

The preserved streets of the old centre are busy with Japanese tourists even in this weather. I imagine the crush of summer. Like all tourist area, it has a huge range of foods and confections for sale. The local Hida Beef is especially famous. we however, as well as more delicious udon had the only non- Japanese meal of the trip here – Japanese pizza.

The preserved wooden house/shop lined street convey all the charm and simple elegance I associate with traditional architecture.

A street in the preserved Edo town

A streetscape  in the preserved Edo town

Kusakabe House  a merchant’s home which was rebuilt in 1880 is described as having many feature of late Edo period, namely as described:

  • An overall two-story design with stairwells, all made of Japanese Cypress (Hinoki).
  • Exposed heavy beams and pillars.
  • A gently slanting roof with moderate eaves.
  • Slender latticework on the windows.
  • A dark brown paint finish made from soot.

Was it Roosevelt who they say, offered to buy this house?

 

Kusakabe Heritage House rebuilt in 1880 - architecture of the Edo period when the Shogun ruled

Kusakabe Heritage House rebuilt in 1880 – architecture of the Edo period when the Shogun ruled

The dark heavy beams of the house

The dark heavy beams of the house

 

At the Kusakabe Heritage House, our little one met up with a racoon.

At the Kusakabe Heritage House, our little one met up with a racoon.

 

Snow in the garden of the old  17th century majestrate's house

Snow in the garden of the old 17th century magistrate’s house

hard to  imagine these sketches of torture in the prison of the house when all around has that elegant serenity of the architecture

Hard to imagine these sketches of torture in the prison room of the house when all around has that elegant serenity of the architecture

 

The hotel, Takayama Ouan, is one of the few high-rise buildings at the edge of the old town. It has an onsen (traditional hot bath) on the top (13th) floor. The hotel blends western and ryokan elements with tatami (straw) mats throughout so shoes are left in lobby lockers.

The hot spring bath affords a view of the town and the mountains that surround it. There are separate baths for men and women as well as three private baths that can be used for 30 minutes on a first come, first served basis. Bliss.

The morning market and the old town

Older women sell hand made good luck monkeys, pickles and apples displayed simply and minimally at the morning market.

Morning market

Morning market

Apple seller at the morning market

Apple seller at the morning market

Then it is on to wander the streets of seventeenth century wooden houses.

Cafe in a courtyard. probably packed in summer

Cafe in a courtyard. probably packed in summer

Modern touches abound…not a surprise really!

Modern touches abound…not a surprise really!

parking the car is hard everywhere these days

A few streets away from the heritage area, I note that parking the car is hard everywhere these days

From bears to barred doors

We are travelling with 2 littlies so it is time to focus on what they might like….a teddy bear museum. Yep, living kitsch but luckily it is a short walk from a supposedly, most splendid museum  – the Hida Takayama Museum of Art. Michelin has apparently given 2 stars for its collection of Art Deco and Nouveau items but alas all we could see were in the museum shop which was open briefly after closing hours.

 

The river runs through the town

The river runs through the town

 

2014-03-19 18.13.37

A house on the edge of the town centre

 

And not a bad comment on the river of life

And not a bad Takayama comment on the river of life

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