Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Kakunodate, Japan

Since we were at Tsurunoyu for two nights, we had the time to make a day trip to the small town of Kakunodate.
We took the train there: R is fascinated by the falling snow
Kakunodate is known as "little Kyoto" (at least in the tourism literature) because the town layout and to some extent the buildings have remained more or less unchanged since its founding in 1620. For those that don't know, class divisions in Japan until recently were quite rigid and tremendously important to every aspect of daily life (for instance, samurai were legally entitled to murder the lower classes on the street if they failed to show proper respect). So Kakunodate is divided into the Inner Town (where the samurai lived in their mansions) and the commercially-oriented Outer Town.
Me and R at the Kakunodate train station: she is sulking because she wants to walk, but I think the snow is too deep
Street lined with old samurai mansions (they are all hidden behind austere-looking fences/gates)
Note that R is still grumpy: she hates not being active at all times!
Famous cherry trees overhead, now covered in beautiful snow
We enjoyed exploring a few of the samurai mansions (there are a large number, but R's tolerance for tours of historic properties is small). It was fun just to wander through the town and check out the traditional restaurants and stores (including a centuries-old teahouse and beautiful local crafts).
In the grounds of one of the mansions: it snowed almost the whole time we were in Kakunodate
Stage at mansion for performing plays: the costumes scared R a bit
Shinto shrine: they use white paper strips like these to show places are holy. Shinto has a very unadorned aesthetic.
Kakunodate is most famous for its cherry blossoms (we saw the trees but obviously no flowers), and I would like to come back someday in the spring to enjoy them. Maybe once R is a little older and my indoctrination plans (of thinking that historic sites are really fun) have borne fruit?
R is excited on the way home to see an advertisement for her favorite movie (she's watched it at least 30 times): Ponyo
The gateway town (where we transfer from train to bus, back to the hot springs): the scenery is very dramatic
R and I are tired but it was worth the trip!


  1. i can't believe she still lets your stick her in a carrier....mine would have a hissy fit

    1. She doesn't mind that much, I think because then she's up higher and can see better? (plus get into more stuff on counters and so on). We actually have two (this one, which is a hip carrier and a baby backpack, which she really likes riding in).

      It's really hard to travel without a carrier IMO (at least internationally) because of all the stairs/uneven surfaces/space issues. Japan is pretty stroller friendly but even there it often wasn't practical. So even if R didn't like it I would have stuck her in there anyway.