Wednesday, May 27, 2015

takayama, the hida folk village and shirakawa-go

Hi every-one,

I'm back home in Sydney and have just returned to work. This post comes with a warning because it's a long one.

When I was planning my trip to Japan, I knew I wanted to visit Tokyo and Kyoto but other than those places, I was a bit clueless. I asked a Japanese friend for some advice and of course my friend Kylie, a frequent visitor to Japan. In the end I went with a specialist travel company and together we came up with an itinerary. That's how I came to visit Takayama and Shirakawa-go. 

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I spent 2 days in Takayama, a sweet town, which inexplicably seemed to shut down each night at 6.00 p.m (and on a Tuesday and Wednesday) making it a challenge to get a meal. Each night I'd wander the streets looking for a place that was open and I was not alone.

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The historic part of Takayama has narrow streets and beautiful old shops and houses. 

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Takayama is a very popular tourist destination and that makes for crowded streets.



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The only way to get photos without hordes of people in the shots meant getting up really early. I think I took these photos about 7.00 a.m.

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Most residences had flower boxes outside.

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Takayama is known for it's sake distilleries. If a  ball of cedar fronds is hanging outside the building, then you know you're in the right place.

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Speaking of sake shops.

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Even the drains in the old historic areas were decorative.

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These wisteria lined streets are pretty famous in Takayama.

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I think this may have been a variety of clematis. Please correct me if I'm wrong.

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Takayama isn't just known for sake, it's also famous for it's miso and Hida beef. This guy sold beef skewers and he did a roaring trade. I had to wait for close to 10 minutes to get this shot of his stall without a crowd in front.

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After my early morning start I took the advice from my guide book and caught a bus to the Hida Folk Village.

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Many years ago, a huge dam was built in the area and many of the mountain villages were flooded. The folk village was created to preserve many of the old houses.

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The houses are located around a lake and there are a variety of building styles.

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O-jizo-san statues.

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A shinto shrine.

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The houses were set amongst beautiful trees and I even found some cherry blossoms at the village.

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When I returned to Takayama these carp banners, also known Koinobori suddenly appeared on the river.

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The next day it was back on the bus for the long journey to Kyoto via Shirakawa-go. Shirakawa-go is a small village with traditional houses just like the ones featured at the Hida Folk Village. It was interesting to see the houses being lived in but I wondered how the locals could bear their village being invaded on a daily basis by thousands of visitors. 

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It made me feel very uncomfortable and in the end I didn't stay long and left the village on an earlier bus and caught an earlier train to Kyoto.

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The roofs are so steeply pitched because of the winter snow falls.

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Just to let you know this is a living, breathing community, I found this neat display of tools.

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The village came complete with vegetable gardens

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Linen being aired.

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I found some bonsai.


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Workmen doing some roof repairs.

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I found some more decorative drains; locally made brushes and a close-up of those incredible thatched roofs.

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Many of the smaller huts were set amongst towering timbers.

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Just like these.

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I even found some elusive cherry blossoms and a field of jonquils.

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I know that was a big post so thanks for your patience. I'll be back next week with my Fog Linen Work shop-shoot.


Bye for now, 

Jillian

Monday, May 25, 2015

hakone and the hakone open air museum

Hi Every-one,

it's Jillian here, back home again in Sydney. I flew back from Japan last Friday and I have so many images to share with you. Today's post is about Hakone, an area not far from Tokyo known for it's hot spring resorts and views of Mt. Fuji. While in Hakone I was able to spend one night at the Gora Tensui, a beautiful ryokan with exquisite kaiseki meals and my own hot tub

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The Hakone area was on alert due to increased volcanic activity.The Hakone rope-way was shut down which made getting to Lake Ashi a bit more difficult but otherwise it had little effect on Hakone. I found a bus to take me to Togendai where I caught a pirate ship (?) across Lake Ashi.

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It was a grey day and Mt. Fuji wasn't on display that day and I was warned she probably wouldn't appear.

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The following day dawned bright and clear so I decided to visit the Hakone Open Air Museum.


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It's a pretty special place with scenic vistas, beautiful gardens and of course, sculptures.

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It reminded me a little of Jupiter Artland but not so out there.

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As well as the beautiful gardens and sculptures, there's a special Picasso Pavilion and a foot bath for soaking weary feet.

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A few more images.

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After my visit to the museum, I caught the bus to Hakone Machi on Lake Ashi and there she was, Mt. Fuji in all her glory.

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From there I walked along the ancient Cedar Avenue.

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Which took me to the Onshi Hakone Park for more views of Mt. Fuji.


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I'll leave you with another view of Mt Fuji.

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I hope you enjoyed my Hakone images. 

See you all again soon with some more images from Japan.


Until then,

Jillian

Monday, May 18, 2015

nikko

Have you heard of Nikko? It's a world heritage site a few hours train journey from Tokyo. I went there last weekend, catching local trains to get there so the journey took me close to 4 hours. It rained as well that day so I spent most of the day trudging through puddles. It didn't matter because it's such a magical place.

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The heritage site is a 30 minute uphill walk from the station or of course you can catch a bus, but the effort is so worth it.

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There are a number of temples, shrines and a beautiful pagoda on the site.

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There were 2 distinct colour themes at the site, either reds 

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or mossy greens.

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I put together a little collage of greens for you.

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This temple was a little further up the hill from the main site.

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I may have been too late for the cherry blossoms but I was in time for the azaleas.

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I also found some maples.

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How beautiful is this spot?

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The best part of the day? Coming across this shinto wedding procession.

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I hope you enjoyed my photos from Nikko. See you soon with some more photos from my travels,

Jillian