Tackling Takayama

Our first ride on the Shinkansen (bullet train) took us from Kanazawa to Toyama where we changed to a more regular, but still fast train to Takayama. A city about the same size at Launceston, it has much to offer in its ancient architecture, narrow alleys, quaint shops and restaurants.

Our adventure started when we arrived at the station and asked for directions to our hotel, only to be told it was way too far to walk (not what they advertised on the booking site) so we hopped in a cab. The famous Takayama Autumn Festival was in full swing, complete with processions and floats, and our cab driver reached a certain point and said he couldn't go any further as the roads were closed. We had no choice but to walk - with heavy suitcases - up a hill for a couple of kilometres.

Naturally we were exhausted by the time we reached the hotel and were then told we couldn't check in until 3pm (even though we had at our previous hotels) and to come back then. So we walked back into town, without suitcases which they stored for us, and spent a few hours watching the parade, drinking coffee and wandering the fascinating laneways. I then called the hotel, as agreed, and asked for their free shuttle service (which isn't available until after 3pm). Of course their English isn't great and it took three conversations with three different people before a pickup place was arranged.

Old Takayama
3-storey pagoda in Takayama

Our favourite coffee house, owned by an Englishman

The Autumn Festival

Finally we checked into the hotel and found ourselves in a very traditional Japanese room. I was thrilled, as I had always wanted to experience it, and when I say traditional, well the only furniture was a low table with two seats, on the ground. But the 'room' was enormous, with three rooms divided by paper walls, a full bathroom with a separate bath-and-shower room, and a separate toilet. A small refrigerator, a jug, Japanese earthenware mugs, a safe and a huge flat screen TV. And fabulous views across the city!

Around 7.30pm two ladies came, pulled mattresses, sheets, doonas and pillows out of one of the many cupboards and made up our beds on the floor. Incredibly comfortable. We hadn't the energy to go back into town and the restaurant was fully booked so we had purchased rolls, ham and cheese that afternoon and made our own dinner, which we ate sitting on the floor at our very own Japanese dining table.


In the morning, breakfast was served in the dining room. As we entered there was a flurry of excitement as one or two kimono-clad women rushed to take our voucher and then ushered us to a table (normal size, with chairs) amid a barrage of Japanese and smiles all round. The table had been set with a number of different containers each holding unrecognisable foodstuffs. Fortunately there was cereal, fruit and coffee on a table to the side. But not to be rude, we attempted much of the foods in front of us, although I couldn't bring myself to eat hot soup and seaweed for breakfast...

After breakfast we caught the morning shuttle into town and walked up hills (again) to a fascinating folk village full of historic houses and places of work where we spent a few hours. Back in town we dined at a local restaurant on the famous Hida beef and noodles in a kind of soup - delicious!

Folk Village

Takayama was certainly a surprise and we loved the experience!

Geisha with a difference...


  1. Hope they didn't put you in charge of the Bullet Train controls Jim!

  2. None in the processions look happy apart from the guy in the rickshaw. The roads look narrow.

  3. Sounds like you're both having and incredible Japanese adventure! The photos are superb and I love hearing about all your adventures.

  4. Penny, the above 'unknown' comment was from me!


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