Hida-Takayama and Shirakawa Village


     On May 2nd, I joined a bus tour with two of my friends and went to Hida -Takayama and Shirakawa Village in Gifu Prefecture.

     Takayama is often called a little Kyoto. It’s because its historical buildings, shrines, temples and so on are reminiscent of Kyoto. It has a festival called Takayama Festival, which is held in spring and fall, and it’s very famous by splendid floats and mechanical dolls put on them.

     Shirakawa Village is one of the World Heritages. Some of houses built by gassho-zukuri, which is a style of architecture. “Gassho” means that joining your hands in prayer. The name of the style of architecture is derived from the hands’ form.

     The tourists had to get together in Nagoya Station by 7:20 in the morning. I had to get up that day at 5:00! It started raining hard when we were about to get into the bus. The weather was terrible while riding the bus to a restaurant.

     The restaurant is very famous for ramen. We had ramen and shabu shabu for lunch there. It was hard to believe the situation for me. At almost the same time, many buses arrived at the restaurant. All passengers sat down at the same time and started eating the same thing at the same time! The time we were given was only 45 minutes! Besides, the lunch started before 11:00 o’clock!

     Japanese people are generally punctual. Only one tourist was late to get into the bus at the restaurant. While she was missing, the bus guide and the tour conductor went pale. It was because that they were afraid of being behind schedule, not of the missing tourist.

     10 minutes after the time we had planned to set out, the missing tourist was found and we were able to continue the tour.

     In Takayama it was quite cold, cherry blossoms were in full bloom. We strolled around the Nationally Recognized Important Historical Building Preservation Area, where you can see many old houses and shops, and enjoy shopping and eating.

I saw many jinrikishas (rickshaws) there. When I was there about 5 years ago, the services didn’t exist. The area seems to have given higher priority to tourism lately.

     After about 1 and a half hour walk there, our bus headed for Shirakawa Village. The reason why I joined the tour this time is because I hadn’t seen the gassho-zukuri houses before.

     It took about 1 and a half hour from Takayama to Shirakawa by bus. Shirakawa was colder than Takayama. It was only 9 degrees. I saw much snow remain. The village was smaller than I had thought. If tourist didn’t exist there, the village would be very calm.

     I went to a house which is open to the public. The house is, of course, gassho-zukuri style. It’s amazing that the method of construction avoids waste. Everything is reasonable. I cannot explain about it in English there. If you have never visited a gassho-zukuri house, you should go and see one once, I think. The house has no steel nails, but has an earthquake-resistant house design.

     I’d like to visit Shirakawa Village in the winter time once. It must look beautiful in snow.


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