Takayama day

Started the day with a family onsen – yes, all 4 of us stripped off, washed, then sat in the intensely hot soaking bath, it was pretty good fun and interesting. The ryokan is pretty cheap’n’cheerful but there are enough elements of the real thing that it gives us a taste.

Walked into the town on a bright morning dampened by a "sorry, not here" from the railway lost and found (and a look of real sadness on the station official’s face as he bowed very sincerely in regret). Broke the news to Cal, who has been sad but OK, and walked off to see a wooden shrine in the city that had been built around 1570. Still there, looking good, and in the courtyard was a ginkgo tree which looked quite old, and turned out to BE old, 1200 years old in fact. Still healthy and thriving. Quite a thing to see.

The autumn festival was back on because of the fine weather, so we saw part of the procession and all 11 of the mobile shrines out in the streets, incredible labour in them. The town was packed and we waited to go up to Sakurayama Hachiman shrine (founded about 430 but modernised and enlarged in, er, 1683) which was the focus of festivities. It was beautiful (of course) and we made the little observances and then wandered up behind on the hillside, also stunning. Waited for the marionette show but decided we were unliklely to grasp its full meaning and it was blazing hot, so set off in search of icecream and a paddle under the bridge. Wandered around the town further, all got thoroughly tired and walked back to our accommodation. With girls tucked away Mem and I did some washing and then nipped out to a take-out for some Japanese basics, rice with very tasty chicken, pork and beef which went over well with the girls. Walked via Hida Folk Village where they have relocated some incredibly old buildings from the surrounding region as an outdoor museum. Also brought back a tiny Hello Kitty who will serve as the travel mascot until we find a larger one to replace our lost team mate.

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