Takayama

Takayama Travel Blog

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This morning I slept til 7am, the latest I've slept yet.  (Trying to keep to the early to bed/early to rise regime to maximize my daylight hours and sightseeing stamina.)  Since the rain followed me here from Matsumoto and my plan for the day was to tackle Takayama on foot (relatively easy to do, fairly small town), I took my time and lazed about: finally washed my filthy hair, chatted with my sister, and attempted push-ups for the first time in over a week (it wasn't pretty).

Takayama is quaint and picturesque, a darling little town snuggled in the Japanese Alps.  After browsing one of the morning markets, I toured the Takayama-jinya, or historical government house, built in 1615.  It sprawled out across lovely gardens and included a rice storage room (rice was collected as the tax), several government offices and dwelling areas, a massive kitchen, and even a torture chamber.
  From there I wandered throughout Sanmachi-suji, or the heart of the old town, which is still maintained in the way it was built hundreds of years ago.  The streets are lined with shops and restaurants and are perfect for leisurely strolling and munching your way through the town.  It was in one of these shops I bumped into BJ and Collin, two travelers I met in Tokyo.  Collin (BJ's 11 year old son) was choosing which origami papers he'd like as a souvenir.  (Needless to say the origami paper was gorgeous, any choice would have been a good one.)  They recommended the soba restaurant at the back of the shop, Collin absolutely raving about how fantastic it was; they had tried to come once before and it had already closed.
Notice the branding on each apple. And check out those prices!
  (Apparently the restaurant serves 50 portions per day and that's it, doors close.  Hence it's a lunch place.  An early lunch place.)  You can bet your bottom I promptly turned around and marched into that soba mecca, but not before learning that BJ and Collin will be in Kyoto in a few days (like me) and agreeing to cross paths again there.

As promised, the soba was divine.  Handmade and beyond fresh, I wanted to lick my basket clean.  It came with two small pieces of pickled daikon, or Asian radish, some diced green onion, wasabi, and a chilled soy-based sauce.  Everything is served individually, and you dip your soba noodles into the chilled sauce (with however much added wasabi and onion you so desire) one bite at a time, before slurping them down with abandon.
  At the end of the meal, once the soba is gone, they bring you a teapot with hot soba water in it.  Essentially, it's like bringing you a cup of pasta water after cooking spaghetti in it.  You pour the hot starchy soba water into the remaining cold soy/wasabi sauce and drink it as you would miso soup.  *THIS* is what makes soba so damn good.  I could drink gallons of that stuff.

From lunch I wandered for another hour or so, perusing the rest of the Sanmachi-suju area and stumbled upon the Sakurayama Hachimangu shrine.  I still have the Higashiyama temple area to explore tomorrow, and am considering forking over the cash to drive out to Ogimachi in the Hida District for a morning.  This is an area that has preserved hundreds years old farm houses, small houses that were built centuries ago.  It's supposed to be absolutely gorgeous, but of course this also means that the roundtrip fare is through the roof.  Tbd.
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Takayama (and many areas in this region) are known for their local sake.  While strolling through the Sanmachi area today I had the pleasure of perusing a few sake shops, many of which distilled their own sake.  I sampled a few and bought a small bottle (brewed on premises! go locavores!) to enjoy at the hostel later.  I tried some local soju too.  Yeee-ow I still can’t get used to that stuff.  It’ll put hair on your chest.  But fun to be sipping sake before noon all the same.
Notice the branding on each apple.…
Notice the branding on each apple…
Takayama-jinya
Takayama-jinya
Takayama-jinya
Takayama-jinya
backlit
backlit
Takayama-jinya tea room
Takayama-jinya tea room
Takayama-jinya toilet -- and I tho…
Takayama-jinya toilet -- and I th…
Takayama-jinya
Takayama-jinya
Takayama-jinya torture room :(
Takayama-jinya torture room :(
Takayama-jinya
Takayama-jinya
Takayama-jinya rice storage room
Takayama-jinya rice storage room
Takayama-jinya garden
Takayama-jinya garden
Takayama-jinya garden
Takayama-jinya garden
Takayama-jinya kitchen
Takayama-jinya kitchen
Takayama-jinya
Takayama-jinya
Nakabasi Bridge into Sanmachi-suji
Nakabasi Bridge into Sanmachi-suji
Sanmachi-suji
Sanmachi-suji
Sanmachi-suji
Sanmachi-suji
Sanmachi-suji
Sanmachi-suji
Tasty salty hot squishy dough balls
Tasty salty hot squishy dough balls
Tasty bueno!
Tasty bueno!
Sanmachi-suji
Sanmachi-suji
Sake brewery (distillery?)
Sake brewery (distillery?)
Sake!
Sake!
Sake distillery
Sake distillery
Sake distillery
Sake distillery
Sake!
Sake!
Sake distillery
Sake distillery
Something for Teet & Jeannie
Something for Teet & Jeannie
Sanmachi-suji
Sanmachi-suji
Miso paste for sale
Miso paste for sale
Barrels of miso paste
Barrels of miso paste
Sanmachi-suji
Sanmachi-suji
No idea who this little girl is bu…
No idea who this little girl is b…
Scrumptious (cold) soba, what the …
Scrumptious (cold) soba, what the…
Sanmachi-suji
Sanmachi-suji
Sanmachi-suji
Sanmachi-suji
Sanmachi-suji
Sanmachi-suji
Sanmachi-suji
Sanmachi-suji
Sanmachi-suji
Sanmachi-suji
Sakurayama Hachimangu shrine
Sakurayama Hachimangu shrine
Sakurayama Hachimangu
Sakurayama Hachimangu
Sakurayama Hachimangu
Sakurayama Hachimangu
Sakurayama Hachimangu
Sakurayama Hachimangu
Sakurayama Hachimangu
Sakurayama Hachimangu
Sakurayama Hachimangu
Sakurayama Hachimangu
Sakurayama Hachimangu
Sakurayama Hachimangu
Sanmachi-suji
Sanmachi-suji
Sanmachi-suji
Sanmachi-suji
Sanmachi-suji
Sanmachi-suji
Various meat-filled dumplings and …
Various meat-filled dumplings and…
Weird dude straddling a bridge. Hi…
Weird dude straddling a bridge. H…
Takayama
photo by: Eric