Takayama, Japan

Takayama is a lovely town in the Japanese Alps.  The old part of town has been preserved and there is much to see of a heritage nature.  We set out on foot and stopped first at the Hida Kokobunji Temple (photo) and then went, via the morning market, to the Takayama Festival Floats Exhibition Hall.  In spring and autumn , Takayama holds festivals associated with the Sakurayama Hachimangi Shinto Shrine (photo).  The town has preserved some fabulous floats which are taken out at the time of the festivals.  Four are shown in an exhibition hall during the remainder of the year (photos).    There are puppets on the floats, controlled by rods and wires, which perform amazing feats including acrobatics. We saw a video of the floats during a festival and they would be a fantastic sight.  We then went to see a model of the temples at Nikko which is near Fukashima, north of Tokyo and not on our itinerary. It definitely looks like it would be worth a visit some day. Outside they were setting up displays of chrysanthemums for a festival starting next week.  In addition to the beautiful blooms ( photos) they had chrysanthemums clipped as bonsai (photo).  The next stop was an old merchant’s house on a heritage street (photo), the Kusakabe  Heritage House, now a museum. It was interesting to see how a wealthy family would have lived in the 1800’s.  I include a photo of one of the rooms which are sparsely furnished.  After lunch we visited the Takayama Jinya, formerly the governor’s house during the Edo period.  Most of it is a reproduction which cost many millions of dollars to construct.  There are several original sections including a rice warehouse.   I include a picture of what was both the court room and torture chamber.  Justice was efficient in those days!! Tomorrow is a free day but most of us are taking the opportunity to visit a nearby town which we can do using our Japan Railways pass.  I will also likely get up early to visit the morning market before breakfast.

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