Today we wanted to make the most of our rail passes so as I got ready Juna went and asked the manager of the hostel if he had any local recommendations. He suggested the city of Gifu, about an hours train journey away.
So off we went on a rickety train down to Gifu. The train journey would have fit into a Wes Anderson film, the beige carriages rocketed through the green mountains and over the red bridges. It also constantly buzzed making it sound like a tattoo studio on wheels.
The last stop before ours was Gero. We had been going for about an hour, at this point we should have twigged, but it wasn’t until half an hour after that, did the penny drop. He had told Juna Gero not Gifu. Gifu it turns out, is over 2 hours away. But as we were already on our way we decided to make a day of it, and explore as much as we could before the last train back.
Using the city map at the station we planned our route to the main park which had a cable car to the top. On our way we stopped off at their best known shrine. Not only was the outside beautifully ornate it housed a huge, hand carved Buddha. With the overall height being 13m, the ears on their own were 2m high. Once you entered the building and looked up, the sheer size was overwhelming, the Buddha itself is covered with thousands of Buddhist Scriptures carved into it, the amount of hours to create and carve it was incomprehensible.
In the blaring 32 degree heat we then made it to the park and boarded the cable car, it was fairly expensive but once we got to the top the views were worth it. By circling just 60m at the summit you could get a full 360 view of the region and mountain borders. Luckily we were there on a clear day so you could see for miles. At the very top was a small castle but we decided not to go in as it was extremely busy and the views were enough for us.
After soaking up the view and probably too much sun we headed back down in the cable car. At the front of the cable car there were stickers on the floor signalling that’s where children could stand for the best view. As there were no children on board I was the youngest so decided to take up a prime position. But I soon realised that despite being the youngest there, at 5’7″ I’m considered tall in Japan. So I took took a few photos and stood aside.
As we approached the landing space for the cable car, there was a huge gust of wind. They tried to dock us but couldn’t, so we ended up just having to hang and swing mid air for a few minutes until the weather died down. Thankfully it did and we were able to get off and get our feet firmly back on the ground.
The train journey home landed in the middle of rush hour, although not too busy we had to stand for the first 20 minutes. As we turned around to look for seats the train jolted and Juna hit a businessman square in the face with her bag. He was very polite about it the first time, but after it happened again, we decided to look for seats in another carriage..
We have just got home after a late night walk around Takayama before we leave tomorrow morning and head to Kyoto.