We took a bus ride through the snow over the Japanese Alps (many tunnels) to reach this town in the Gifu Prefecture. We spent two nights in a traditional guesthouse, with one day to tour a folk village and explore the town.
April 3 – Traditional Guest House
We arrived in late afternoon. Our host picked up our luggage from the bus station and we walked, in a light rain, to our guesthouse near a large torii gate along the river. We stored our shoes and put on slippers, which we slipped off before walking onto the tatami mats in our rooms. After settling in, we donned yukata (house robes) and went downstairs to see a beautiful dinner spread out before us. We sat on mats and enjoyed many new dishes eaten in a specific order. Before bed, I enjoyed a soak in the onsite onsen, the small soaking pool filled from a local hot spring.
April 4 – Hida Village and Beef
After a beautifully presented breakfast at our guesthouse, we strolled through the morning market selling food to the locals and souvenirs to the tourists, walked through a temple, and caught a bus uphill for a tour of Hida No Sato, a demonstration folk village. The buildings, covering a variety of styles were relocated from around the area, some of them due to be flooded after a dam construction. In general, the insides were dark and cold. Fires would have been burning continuously making them smoky. Some of the top floors were dedicated to the raising of silkworms.
Back in town, we split into two groups for lunch. Nancy and I joined Marty for pizza, thin crust and yummy, while the others went to a restaurant serving soba noodles. (I’m tired of noodles). Next we went sake tasting. Of the five we tried, we agreed that the freshest and the plum versions were the best. The former required refrigeration so I bought a bottle of the later to take home. With a couple hours before our rendezvous at the torii gate, I visited the shrine, then headed uphill to Kitayama Park which had nice views of the town and mountains. I almost dropped my camera here when the strap holder detached from my camera, a problem I’ve never heard of in all my years of photography.
Six of us walked back to a restaurant we’d spotted earlier serving Hida beef, apparently almost as famous as Kobe beef. My beef bowl was indeed delicious and the sukiyaki that Raj let us taste virtually melted in my mouth; I never imagined beef could be this tender, though I don’t expect to convert to being a regular beef eater. Our already enjoyable meal reached another level of hilarity when I returned from the restroom to report on the latest invention we have encountered, a toilet seat that rises when the door is opened. The inside of the bowl also lit up with blue light. Marty then checked it our and reported that in the men’s room, both lids raised and music came on. The locals probably thought we’d lost our minds.