Trains and Takayama

This morning we got up early to make sure we arrived for our train in plenty of time. This involved taking an earlier train to Tokyo station from Ueno station, which we ended up taking during peak hour. Not our smartest decision. Dad was lifted off his feet by the amount of people squashing themselves into the carriage with us. Marnie and I were terribly uncomfortable – in tears of laughter, but trying not to make any noise. The trains in Tokyo are very silent and respectful – no one speaks loudly and everyone keeps to themselves. Marnie and I were trying to adhere to this, but the situation was so ridiculous and we kept glancing at each other and setting each other off. We finally – miraculously – managed to get off at the right station, and bought a quick breakfast before catching our train to Nagoya. After a brief panic because they had changed the departure platform, we were off. I just watched television shows for the next couple of hours, but at our stopover in Nagoya, I bought a chicken bento box for lunch – delicious!

Rice, chicken, vegetables, mushroom. Mmm.

The train journey from Nagoya to Takayama included some of the most beautiful scenery I have ever seen by rail. I was also extremely tired and slept through a lot of it, but Dad got some great photos. We got to Takayama at 3pm – plenty of time to wander around and sightsee, despite the damn rain.

Our accommodation, Zenkoji Temple, is the most gorgeous place. There are sliding screens to get into our rooms and Buddhist prayers at 9.30 every morning in their beautiful temple, which we are going to try and catch tomorrow. Yukina, our host, took us on a tour of the facilities and she had fantastic English, in the softest, sweetest voice. The temple is quiet, with slippers for guests to wear instead of our shoes, tatami mats instead of beds, and low tables to sit on the floor (a bit hard for some of us with dodgy hips and knees but we get by). It is a truly authentic experience and is the most charming place. If I come back to Takayama, which I plan to, I will stay here again.

Zenkoji Temple

 

Entrance hall

 

Heated table to keep us warm

 

Room decoration

 

Tatami mats with futons

We set off for a walk around Takayama and found ourselves in the old town, a stunning collection of streets with handicrafts stores and sake breweries. We spent quite a while wandering up and down, taking photos of little canals and shrines and flowers decorating the streets.

Shrine

 

Miya-gawa

 

Takayama old town

 

Takayama old town

 

Takayama old town

It got quite cold, and once the rain got heavier, we headed to a supermarket and stocked up on breakfast food before finding something for dinner. We ended up at an Italian restaurant – not very Japanese, but the place we were looking for turned out to be shut on Wednesday. In my limited experience, I have found that the Japanese do Italian cuisine quite well, and the porcini risotto was lovely on a cold night.

We have come back to the temple now, and are planning our day for tomorrow. I hope sleeping on the mats is not difficult, but I think it will be easy to get to sleep after such a long day. It really is a beautiful city.

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