Takayama: another ‘must-do’ town on every Japan itinerary list. Mark and I wanted to visit the Japan Alps to experience a different side of Japan. We hoped to see a traditional town with lots of old buildings and nice streets to stroll. We booked a ryokan (Japanese guesthouse) to complement our traditional experience and went there first to drop off our luggage. The owners of Asanuro Ryokan gave us a warm welcome and gave some tips on what to see around the area. When we arrived in the old town of Takayama early this morning, we were actually a bit disappointed.
Yes, the town is cute and yes lots of the buildings are old, but we weren’t very impressed. We looked up what there was to do and other than the old town, 3 things interested us:
– Higashiyama Walking Course, a walking trail leading to many temples and castle ruins.
– Takayama Jinya, an important building that used to serve as the local government office.
– And the Hida Folk Village museum, an open air museum that showcases the history of the Japan Alps.
We ended up not doing any of those things and taking the bus to Kamikochi, after seeing the old town and one of the morning markets. Kamikochi is a mountain resort part of the Chubu Sangaku National Park. Its scenery was said to be breathtaking and since Mark and I love to hike it felt like a good idea to go there. It would take about 1,5 hours by bus one way, but the tickets were quite pricey (about 45 euro’s each roundtrip). We decided to ‘take the plunge’ and were surprised by the beauty of the mountains.
There are lots of trails to follow in Kamikochi, but since we only had 3,5 – 4 hours, we went to the information center to ask which hikes where the prettiest and shortest. They recommended a hike that starts at Kappabashi bridge, leading to Taisho Pond and Tashiro Pond along the Asuza river.
We saw lots of monkeys along the way! They don’t really care much for humans, but do know when to turn their head when you want to take a photo 😉
When we decided to hike in the Japan Alps, we didn’t expect to have this much snow. When we left Takayama it was 27 degrees and it was only 18 degrees in Kamikochi! The snow of course made it feel colder at times.
The Taisho Pond was so beautiful, especially the mirror reflection of the mountain in the super duper clean waters of the pond. Taisho Pond was formed in 1915, when an eruption of the nearby volcano Yakedake dammed Azusa River. The water is so clear, that you can see decayed trees standing in the water.
We are staying at Ryokan Asunaro. It’s our first every experience in a ryokan and up to now it’s been wonderful. The owners are so nice and even offered to bring us to the station tomorrow morning. We booked breakfast and dinner and our dinner was a traditional Japanese kaiseki-ryori and consisted of many local products, which included the famous Hida beef. It was nice to try something new and as always the quality was perfect! Mark went to the onsen after dinner and said that he was able to relax his muscles from our hike.
We travel to Kanazawa tomorrow which will take about 3 hours and 2 transfers. We’re going to visit one of Japan’s most beautiful landscaped gardens. Time for bed now as we take the train at 07:40.