I still have so many posts to share about our Japan adventures even though we are back living in the states. This trip was a combined Takayama and Shirakawago MWR bus tour. I was very grateful for this tour. It was an incredibly long day but so worth it. Shirakawago should be on your Japan bucket list but it’s not easy to get to. First is Takayama though. And not that Takayama isn’t worthy of a visit (because it absolutely is), but if your time is limited in Japan, a closer option to Tokyo to get the Edo merchant experience is Kawagoe. There is also a Float Festival in Takayama in the spring and fall I believe ranked one of the most beautiful in Japan.
We began our day on the bus at 3:00am arriving as the cold sleepy town was waking up. Takayama is a castle/merchant town from the Edo period located in the north Gifu prefecture. It is incredibly beautiful with some great shopping. Bus travel early in the morning isn’t as difficult as you might think with kids. Some are heavy sleepers and can transfer without even waking up. Others might need to be encouraged to go back to sleep. Be sure to let your kids know of your travel plans before they go to bed the night before. Waking up in a strange place might excite or scare them so they are unable to get themselves back to sleep and sleepy, cranky kids make for miserable travel at times.
On our way to the morning market, we walked through Furui Machinami (Old Private Houses). Sake breweries were mixed in with merchant shops and houses. Still sleeping and not yet open for business. This part of town was beautiful and lively once the shops opened. Plenty of restaurants and tourist shops to choose from down these old streets.
Tasting room for one of the sake breweries on the merchant road. The brown cedar ball means sake is ready for the tasting!
Strolling along the Miyagawa River and visiting the Asa-ichi (morning market). We were told this market tradition dates back about 200 years when farmers’ wives began bringing vegetables to sell. The market is open year round and the hours when we went were: Summer 6am-12pm and winter 7am-12pm. Tourist shops also line the main market street.
Another morning market was just outside Takayama Jinya, called the Jinyamae morning market.
Takayama Jinjya was a regional headquarters during the Edo period. Inside are beautiful tatami mat rooms and an interrogation room. The gardens here are stunning, especially in the fall with the vibrant colors. Be sure to stop and see the bonsai chrysanthemums that line the outside walkways. There is a fee to enter. A copy of the maps we used for Takayama.
Back on the bus and headed for Shirakawago! One of my favorite places in all of Japan. Up next on the blog.