I got up at 7.00am and headed down for breakfast when I was ready. I had a mixture of Japanese and Western style foods for my breakfast, making the most of the coffee and bread. Something that I'd had for my minshuku breakfast was on offer here as well – mushrooms combined with beans and something that gave it a nutty flavour, delicious.
Reception area in the hotel and a bit of the courtyard outside.
My plan for the day was to visit the Hida Folk Village and the Forest of the Seven Gods, both a bus journey away. I knew this wouldn't take the whole day, but didn't have any other plans set in stone anyway. I got a bus from the station, after using their free wifi for a little bit, and got off at the Folk Village.
Being before 10am, it was very quiet which was nice. It means being able to take photos without random people getting in the way! Some things look better without people.
I wandered around the ‘village’ for an hour or so, looking at and inside the Gossho buildings and admiring the super tall trees.
Shoes off inside, of course.
I found the sign here amusing…
I love mushrooms and shiitake mushrooms in particular.
I found a wood carver at work and spent some time watching him, fascinated by the work he could produce. I also spotted some sort of natural sculptures formed by twisted remains of trees which were equally fascinating – although I'm sure most people didn't stop to photograph them as I did.
Too pretty a setting not to photograph myself.
This is a nice example of a traditional circular rice field.
The folk village was nice and definitely a must for any visit to Takayama but what was really amazing was the place next door. Had I not read about it beforehand, I wouldn't have even known it was there.
The Forest of the Seven Lucky Gods is a collection of seven huge carvings from different ancient trees (read a little bit more here). The man who took my money upon entering was very friendly, showing me the first carving and telling me that it was okay to touch and photograph them.
They were massive and truly magnificent. I can't begin to get my head around how someone would go about starting a carving that large. Hotei, the God of Happiness, was my favourite and I took a sneaky selfie with him.
They were really difficult to photograph, especially for an amateur like me. Because of the houses they were each standing in, the Gods were left in the shadows when trying to capture them from a distance. But then it was difficult to photograph them any closer due to the immense size of them! Really they were just amazing to see with my own eyes regardless of whether my photographs do them justice or not – so just take my word for it, they are awesome.
After that, I had a 40 minute wait for the next bus back to Takayama station so I popped in the café/gift shop opposite the folk village and had a coffee. I was also feeling pretty chilly as although the sun was shining there was a bitter wind and I wasn't really dressed accordingly. Something I'd begun to notice in Japan, is that shopkeepers are more than happy to give you things for free. Maybe because I'm a tourist or a lonesome traveller? I got some kind of popcorn-like wafers with my coffee – no extra charge – which was lovely.
Back in Takayama, I popped back to my hotel briefly to stick on another layer then went for a stroll through the town. I couldn't resist taking this mirror photograph in the hotel lift – something about being on holiday alone, made me take more photographs of myself than usual, haha. You'll also notice that even the lift had tatmi mat flooring.
The picture on the right, below, is of one of the famous Takayama festival floats. I wasn't in Takayama at the right time for one of the festivals – I'd missed one in March and the next would be July.
Just a baby-thing riding a carp, standard.
A bridge like Nakabashi, but green!
I looked in shop windows and took some photos on my way, including some new views of the river and an impressive wooden shinto gate.
I ended up at the Festival Float museum but didn't actually go in. I did wander around the shrine next to it though and bought two small things in one of the gift shops – a set of beautiful illustrated/printed Takayama postcards and a little carved wooden dragon head charm. I wanted to buy something carved, after being impressed by the skill of the wood carvers earlier in the day, but couldn't get anything too big. Again, the shopkeeper was ever so friendly and for some reason knocked some money off! Japanese people are lovely.
Don' t feed the carp!
By that point I knew shops and museums etc. would be closing for the day so I winded my way back to my hotel, down some different streets. I'd requested a 8pm dinner slot again so had plenty of time to relax and refresh myself for the journey onwards to Matsumoto the next day.