Japan, Day 1: Takayama

It has been more than a year since my last Japan trip and this year, I chose Nagoya as the point of entry/exit. This year’s Japan adventures were even made more special by the fact that this is my first ever autumn experience.

NOVEMBER 21, 2018

For the first day of my one-week trip, it was dedicated to doing the Kimi no Na wa seichi junrei (聖地巡礼 – anime pilgrimage) in Gifu Prefecture.

First stop was Takayama and from Nagoya Station, the train ride (reserved seating) was almost 2 hours. Plenty of time to catch some sleep especially since I was still tired from the plane ride. I slept during the early part of the ride so when I woke up, I was not surprised to see trees and mountains everywhere – a sign that TAKAYAMA STATION is somewhat near!

When we reached the station, we were greeted by enthusiastic locals and activities: 1) free wet wipes handed out for free (with image of Takayama in front); 2) free ocha upon exiting the station; 3) traditional dragon dance with mostly kids as dancers.

After watching the performance, we walked towards the first destination of this seichi junrei. It was good that the temperature that day was about 8C so walking outside was bearable…


Enjoying ashiyu (foot bath) on a cold autumn day

We eventually reached HIDA-SANNOGU HIE-JINJA after 15 minutes of walking.

First torii
Surrounded by autumn colors
Autumn colors on a bright day

A short walk from the first torii led us to this torii, which was used as a reference in one of the frames in Kimi no Na wa.

The main shrine proper was not big so it only took us a short time to go around. One sight inside that was difficult to miss was the Great Cedar of Hie Shrine, standing tall at 39m. This tree is assumed to be more than 1,000 years old already.

Since we didn’t eat breakfast and it was around 12PM already, we walked to KIHACHIRO BEEF BUN for lunch. I read online that this shop’s beef bun was regarded as #1 in Rakuten as it is famous for being made with Hida beef and Takayama vegetables. I wasn’t going to miss the opportunity to try it.

Kihachiro’s beef bun for ¥500
After one big bite — 10x better than siopao!

Not far from Kihachiro was KIBUN-YA, a stall that sells gyu-takoyaki – made from Hida beef instead of the usual octopus. Unfortunately, it was closed during this day (Wednesday).

But I guess that was a blessing in disguise because we were able to catch the 1PM train to Hida-Furukawa. The station master told us that the next train after that was past 3PM. Yikes.

And that’s it for the seichi junrei in Takayama. Next post will be the continuation, but this time in the small but lovely town of Hida-Furukawa.

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