We left from Osaka early in the morning and took the bullet train to our next destination: the Japanese alps! Our trip included Shirakawa-go and Kamikochi, having as base Takayama, as the 3 cities form a triangle on the map, having Takayama on the tip.
Takayama is a very cute city. The added value, to me, was that after over 10 years in Japan seeing crowds day and night in restaurants, streets, supermarkets and public transport, it was the first Japanese city where I could experience a slowed down rhythm. Many places were rather empty and sometimes it almost felt like a ghost town (a very well cared and clean one though). I guess that for not having major touristic attractions nor strong commercial activity (and being a bit remote), most of the foreigners I’ve crossed there were doing the same route as I was and using Takayama as an overnight stay.
We had again a very cute hotel.
Now, off to explore the town. Takayama has its very own culture due the high altitude and separation from other areas of Japan, which kept the area fairly isolated. The name, by the way, translates to “Tall Mountain”.
They are very famous for their carpentry (it’s believed they worked in the construction of the Imperial Palace of Kyoto) and also for their beef. We were getting peckish and even though we found the meat overpriced, we went for it.
It was worth every. single. penny.
The beef is extremely tasteful and soft. After dinner we took a long onsen and went back to the hotel to sleep.
Around 10am we took a bus to keep on going up the mountain. Our first destination was Kamikochi.
Kamikochi roughly means “where gods descend” and as soon as I left the bus, at the station, it started to make sense.
Kept on going up the mountain on foot and I was convinced. There IS where the gods descend.
The weather was pleasant and I don’t have much to say about the hike. I will share some pictures and wish you can be there one day to see it all with your own eyes. The trek through the green trees often brought surprises such beautiful sights on the river, many mushrooms, flowers, butterfly swarms and all kind of different smells.
Many hikers were wearing bells, or having bells attached to their backpacks. At some point I got to know these were “bear bells”, that are supposed to keep the bears away. Along the way we could see some signs saying when a bear was seen last in that area. Apparently a black bear had been spotted not long ago.
We haven’t spotted any bear (thanks God), but we did spot monkeys! They were very cute and I got over excited. There were many of them and I was taking million pictures. At one point I’ve seen this cute monkey family, with 2 adults and an infant being fed. I didn’t think twice and ran to take a picture of it. The adult monkeys obviously weren’t pleased with my approach towards their infant and jumped between me and him, growing to scare me. Well it worked. I ran away and no picture of the infant.
It was a nice day of hiking and at the end we headed back to Takayama to get some rest.