Our 10th day traveling through Japan started very oddly, we were woken up by an excessively loud cat fight next to our hostel room. I’m not sure if the cats are louder here in Japan but I’ve never heard anything like it, but at least we were up for the morning markets here in Takayama.
All the stalls were selling locally grown produce and items made here in the mountains. We stopped off at an eclectic bakery stall to get breakfast. I played it safe with a mini-pizza type thing and Juna went for a deep fried cereal doughnut, she assured me it was delicious.
After a quick browse at the market we headed to the train station and made the short 10 minute trip to Hida Furukawa. We were first greeted by rain and fog but once that lifted you could see a beautiful, tranquil village. It’s a village built in 1585 with an ageing population, but it’s certainly the best retirement home I’ve ever seen.
Sure enough we were the youngest people there as we wandered the (thankfully) flat mountain-side streets. There were an unusual amount of Salons and not many places offering food but once we spotted a cafe we dived in. Once again we were a bit big for the place, having to duck under the doors and barely fitting under the table. So with our knees touching the table we tried to order, only problem is this was the first place with just a purely Japanese menu and no one inside speaking any English. We had a go at deciphering the menu and thought we had ordered a vegetable sandwich for me and a curry for Juna. When our food arrived it transpired Juna ordered an egg and cucumber toastie and I had a precarious looking egg omelette within a sandwich. I managed to eat half then filled up with ice cream from the vending machine outside after we left.
Then while exploring we stumbled upon a beautiful winding street. In front of all the small, traditional houses was a stream. It was full of hundreds of Coi fish. The biggest fish I have ever seen. To get into the houses you have to go over a small bridge, which provides shade for all the fish, who were gathered underneath staying out of the midday sun. Something we should have also been doing.
To keep hydrated in the incredibly humid heat we are drinking water constantly through the day. To have a break from water we bought a can of drink that has been confusing us for days. Above the drink in the vending machine it claims the can sings. Thinking we were buying some sort of berry flavour we bought one each. We were very wrong, it was the most peculiar thing I have ever tasted. It wasn’t a drink, it was fizzy, bubblegum flavoured jelly in a can. And when you shook it high-pitched music played. As fun as the music was, I’m not sure when the taste will stop haunting me.
With a bit more exploring we found the ‘cultural quarter’ something I wouldn’t expect a village of this size to have. It was made up of 4 large, wooden and modern buildings, something that stood out against the green mountainous landscape. It had stunning sculptures dotted around the gardens of the buildings. As we got closer we realised the buildings, libraries and art museums, were only open at weekends. It looked great but I’m not sure such a small, quiet village is ready for such a thing yet.
As we headed back to the station children were beginning to leave school. About 20 six year olds passed us in their matching yellow hats. They all said ‘hello’ in their best British accent and then giggled uncontrollably when they walked past. I loved the village, my favourite place we’ve seen since leaving Tokyo.