Hida Takayama, the colour of Japan.

November 13, 2009 at 3:20 am 2 comments

It’s 5pm and, in a rural town high in the Japanese Alps, the sun is setting over a scene that could only have been crafted by a hyperactive child in possession of some Magic Markers. Streaks of scarlet red stain the pathways and clash with pools of golden yellow and lime green, the vibrant ruins of an earlier sugar rush. A breeze whistles through the thinning branches, colouring the air with the last remnants of summer and prompting an old woman to clutch the sleeves of her kimono closer to her chest.

Hida Folk village - Paddy field pond

This is the Japan we have been looking for. Here Autumn is one of the most important times of the year and from our seat overlooking Hida Takayama, it’s not hard to see why. In early November the mornings are cold enough to call for the use of thermals during trips to the morning markets and electric blankets at night time. Cold enough to almost merit the fluffy jumpers that all the local poodles are wearing and the sailor costume on a passing terrier. But in the afternoon glow, the changing leaves are worth every hardship. As is Takayama.

Drinking Water

Hugged on every side by snow‐capped mountains, Takayama is the piece of rural Japan that most travelers come in search of. The focal point of the town is a wide river, thick with colourful carp, crossed by a startling red and white wooden bridge. At this time of year the length of the river is lined with maple trees at various stages of their seasonal colour cycle, ranging from the young and green to the more developed, burgundy maples which stretch all the way through the town and up to the top of the hill behind it.
Just off the river, traditional wooden buildings line the streets and the smell of fresh sake floats out from local distilleries. From 9am to 12pm the streets are alive for the morning markets and the sweet sake fumes mingle with that of delicious Hida beef skewers being cooked by local vendors and slices of juicy Japanese apples offered up by women in their food stalls. Even during its hectic hours though, there is a sense of peace in Takayama that only comes from knowing that the village is watched over by a ridiculous (and still growing) amount of temples and shrines.

Local man makes traditional Japanese candy 

Takayama is the perfect place to unwind after a hectic few days (and one particularly raucous night) in Tokyo – for added zen anyone visiting should consider staying in the reasonably priced Zenkoji Buddhist Temple.

More photos of Takayama are posted in the gallery.


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2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Dee  |  November 13, 2009 at 3:54 am

    Learning loads Gary and lovin it too!! More pics please!!!! Sounds amazing 🙂

  • 2. Cee  |  November 14, 2009 at 6:20 pm



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