A Travellerspoint blog

Takayama, Japan

Our first ryoken and onsen


The train ride to Takayama was one of the best we've taken. Firstly, it was on the Shinkansen bullet train, secondly we ate amazing sushi and finally we had a picture perfect view of Mount Fuji. You usually have to be pretty lucky to catch a glimpse of the snow capped peak of Fuji, usually covered in cloud, but on this particular day it was in its full glory for a good proportion of our train ride along the south coast of Japan. It really is a beauty (and I caught a pretty good camera shot of it from our super fast train).


We were desperate to stay in a traditional ryoken; however a lot of them are luxury boutique style spa hotels and way out of our budget; Jason managed to find us a reasonably priced one in Takayama and we enjoyed our stay here a lot. Our room was a traditional tatami floor with futon beds, full yakata (dressing gown) wear for lounging in, endless supply of green tea in our room and couples onsen bath. I was so glad it was a couples onsen, a lot of them are single sex only and you have to shower and bath naked in front of strangers...not something I was looking forward to. Jason on the other hand was willing to embrace the full onsen experience. He really wanted to go in a natural hot spring onsen outside where you can bath next to wild monkeys, but unfortunately this place in Japan was too difficult to get to in our short space of time.


Takayama is a pretty town with traditional wooden buildings and narrow streets, a lot of them housing souvenir shops and sake brewerys. We spent a lot of our time browsing the shops for Christmas gifts and the odd sake tasting here and there. We decided we like the fruity sweet sake a lot more than the dry or hot ones, best to be served over ice.


We visited the Festival Floats Exhibition and puppet museum (I promise this was better than it sounds). These huge floats make an appearance twice a year in Takayama festivals, they're ornately decorated in bright colours and gold leaf and are each housed in ready made storage containers dotted about the town. Some of them have amazing puppets attached to them. We had our own private puppet display and presentation in the museum; Jason loved it and was amazing by the engineering of it all. J went on stage and was given a cup of tea by a mechanical puppet and then another one drew us a signed Japanese print. There was also a model replication of the temples we'd visited in Nikko where you got to appreciate the vast craftsmanship of each temple in detail (especially as some of the originals were covered and under construction). Overall money well spent.


After a busy day we we headed back to our ryoken for a well deserved soak in the onsen.

The next morning we called at a little cafe for breakfast, the place was fine and the breakfasts OK...Jason had a traditional hida beef burger with apple sauce for his breakfast fill. The only reason its worth mentioning is because there was a lovely Japanese girl that wanted to practice her English. She asked if I knew anyone who liked Hello Kitty and of course said our niece Ruby did, so she drew her a little picture which I hope makes it to Ruby in time for Christmas.

We then visited the open air museum which housed some traditional Japanese buildings from the region. The museum covered quite a large area around a pond; there were old wooden homes, wooden carvings, original mills, traditional weaving & woodwork displays and games. The scenery was beautiful, yet again surrounded by orange and red leaves on a bright autumn day with views that looked out to the Japanese Alps.


For our last night in Takayama we had to move into a hostel as the ryoken was fully booked for the weekend, luckily it was a really nice one with our own private room. To save a few pennies we ate in and got ourselves a prepared nabe (hotpot) of fresh ingredients from the supermarket. Its such good value; pork, noodles, mushrooms, beansprouts, flavoured stock all for £1.50. All we had to do was boil them together in the hostel kitchen and tuck in...delicious!

On our final night it had been quite cold and as we were walking down to the train station you could see how Takayama was surrounded by snow capped mountains. It wasn't quite ski season when we were there, but it looks like they were starting to have their first snow. Maybe when we come back we can make the most of the snow...

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Posted by bloorsontour 05:00 Archived in Japan

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This looks really beautiful! Lovely rural Japan. Thought Jason was the photographer - but seems Sophie got the mega-shot of Mount Fuji!! Well done that woman! Keep 'em coming! xxx

by Ma & Pa

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