Sunday, July 25, 2010

Takayama & Kamikochi

We woke up early in our nice hotel in Takayama. I went for an early morning visit to the onsen to enjoy the Japanese bath experience again. We then checkout and left our stuff at the hotel desk.

We went to sample the "Morning Markets" of Takayama. These are two markets where local farmers sell their produce and local craft people show off their wares.

On the way we crossed a bridge that is adorned by two striking figures.

The first market is along the river on the old side of town. 

We found some crafts that were interesting to buy

The river next to market had some interesting wildlife, including a strange stork (?) that was busy arranging its feathers.

The river also contained very big carps. The question of how they grow so big was answered when we found a vendor selling fishfood to feed them.

The big question was what food to buy to eat for breakfast. One vendor was selling something that looked like an omelette, but turned out to be marshmellow (I think made in an old fashioned way). He carefully browned each cube on a hot plate.

This was a bit too sweet for my taste, but interesting experience. We then found a vendor that was selling onigeri - rice ball wrapped in seaweed.

We then continued through the old town toward the second market.

On the way we bought frozen mandarines on a stick.

Many of the houses were decorated by large balls. We are not sure what they signify.

 This market was in a big square in the newer part of town. We were greeted by a pair of girls that tried to convince us to test the zuccini ice-cream stand.

By then it was getting hot again, and so we decided to move on. We returned to our hotel, got our bags, and continued to the bus station. We took an hour long bus ride through the mountains to another bus station.

From there we took a bush to Kamikochi. The bus was quite full and so we had to use the overflow seats.

The road to Kamikachi started by kilometer long tunnel, and then a ride through deep valleys.

We reached Kamikochi, the heart of the Japanese Alps. This resort-town is very busy in the summer and closed in the winter.  The bus station was full of people with back-packing gear that seemed either on their way to mountains or returning from few days of camping.

We walked about 600m to our hotel. Left the bags, and set out for a stroll along the river.

The weather here was still hot, but much more bearable than previous locations.

We saw quite a bit of growth and flowers along the river.

A noticeable phenomena was that some of the leaves of the "weeds" that covered the forest floor were eaten in a distinct pattern.

The suspect culprit is some kind of caterpillar. Maybe this kind?

We reached the tourist center and saw signs promising wildlife.

Although we did not meet any such creatures (except for many two legged visitors).

We stopped for a small rest, and enjoyed a very unique soda bottle that had a glass ball as a stopper to hold the pressure inside. To open we had to push the ball in and thus break the seal.

We checked in to our room at the hotel. This was a Japanese-style room with tatami mats and a balcony facing the river.

The in-house onsen was not as lavish as the one from yesterday. I went to have a bath, and there was a group of mounteneers that came down to soak after a hard day. After the bath, I dressed in the supplied kimono and relaxed.

At the pre-coordinated time we were summoned for dinner. It was set in a tatami-lined dining hall, but with western-type chairs (a bit low, but still sitting upright).

The table was beautifully arranged.

However, most of the food was not stuff the kids would touch. We asked for non-fish dishes for them, and caused a bit of stress for the waitresses that assured us that the chef will create dishes without fish immediately. The dinner included various types of sushi, cooked local greens, smoked fish, cold soba noodles in some gooey sauce, and of course miso soup and rice. It was interesting and tasty, although we did not consume all the dishes.

After dinner, I went out to see the river in dusk. It was very dim at this stage and I had to use long exposures.

Our hotel from outside

 When I returned I found the room was set for the night.

No comments: