Railpass Rambles – Takayama

After a brief overnight in Osaka again, we head for Takayama, in a region of  Central-north Honshu (Japan’s main island).

The view from the (non-shinkansen) train is more rural than usual.


It’s in the mountains. They don’t call these the Japanese Alps for nothing.

Clear, unscaleable ahead,
Rise the mountains of Instead…’
‘ …From whose cold, cascading streams
None may drink except in dreams
‘ – W.H. Auden

Takayama has streets full of old wooden buildings.

I sample a local specialty – grilled soy-sauce-soaked rice balls on a skewer.

Goodness gracious, great balls of rice

Some kind of festival is going on in the streets.

Nice hats, guys

Little girls also get into the act.

Sugar and spice

The cherry trees are still in blossom in this cool climate.

Nakabashi bridge

Many people have small dogs here. We stop to pet the friendly ones. The owners always say ‘Thank you’, as if we do them a great favour by honouring their choice in canine companions.

Everything Reminds Me of My Dog…’
Men relax after the procession

We indulge in a meal of wagyu beef.

Pure ambrosia for carnivores

We rent bikes for the day.

We visit the Hida-no-sato (Hida folk village) a few kilometres away. This features old traditional farm houses relocated from the area and preserved.

Woodchoppers house

It’s good to be away from the big cities for a few days.

We like these carp streamers. They’re called koinobori.

We stop to rest at a small shrine.

There are bears here. They can be dangerous.

It’s lovely out in the woods today, but safer to stay at home…’

This is the largest koinobori we’ve ever seen.

It was this big

Sight or Insight of the Day

We see this sign when the laundry facilities are not working one day.

Take a bow

The figure in the sign is bowing. The Japanese bow a lot.

For example, on trains, when the conductor reaches the end of a car, he turns and bows to the people in the car. Then he moves into the next car and repeats.

A bow is a sign of respect, not servility. That people take their jobs seriously, no matter how humble, is a refreshing change from elsewhere in the world, where people’s attention can’t be pried from their cell phones with a crowbar.