Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Tradition in Takayama

After our time in Kanazawa, we headed several hours inland to the small mountain city of Takayama. The region is famous for its carpenters, and by extension its traditional architecture, of which a fair amount remains.

The highlight of our visit for me, though, was our stay in a traditional ryokan, or Japanese inn. I wrote about ryokans before, but basically you stay in a Japanese-style room, sleeping on futons on top of tatami mats, which are put away during the day to give you extra space to relax/eat in. We stayed at Ryokan Asunaro, which was great in every way. They even gave us good-bye presents. R loved it so much she cried and threw a fit when it was time to leave (I think the winning touch for her was the provision of a selection of child-size indoor slippers). I highly recommend it to anyone visiting Takayama (the location is also great, within a short walk of the main town and train station).

Here are R and I in the inn-supplied robes, to be worn all around the inn (I think the idea is to help you relax, by being in more comfortable, different clothes: it works!). Below are some shots of our room, which included a traditional brazier (the only method of heating back in the days before central heat).

I liked the room decorations
Separate slippers to use in the toilet room
Takayama the town is quite charming too, especially when covered with fresh snow. B and I had actually visited before, back in 2010 on our "babymoon" trip, but it was just as attractive the second time around. I had a good time wandering the streets and admiring Shinto shrines, traditional merchants' houses and ancient sake breweries.
Street of traditional shops, no car traffic allowed
Shinto shrine near our hotel
Me on the traditional street
One of the ancient sake breweries (from as early as 1623)
The town is built along a river, which adds to its beauty. In general I have found the Japanese countryside to be more special and charming than the cities, and Takayama certainly adds to this impression. Definitely worth a visit!

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