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Shub Ganster
It begins.

***Trip: Hida Takayama

Monday - 10 Feb 2003
Takayama , Gifu - Japan


Hanging out with the snowman

Day 27 (Monday)

3 friends and I took an early bus to Takayama this morning. We nearly missed the bus because no one, the bus ticket people included, could tell where we were supposed to board the bus. Nagoya Station is HUGE, so it was a challenge. But, after a nice brisk morning run, we had 3 hours to relax. The bus-ride was a lot of fun. To pass the time we tried holding our breath as we went through mountain tunnels. The problem with our game soon became clear. We didn.t breathe for almost a third of the trip. That.s okay! Who needs brain cells?! The scenery was pretty, but was kind of monotonous in a town-river-mountain kind of way.

Takayama (meaning tall mountain) is really pretty. It is also really cold. After leaving the bus we set out to Hida-no-Sato, an old Folk Village. The houses were interesting and we got to ring a big bell, but the best parts were building an American snowman (meaning it had 3 balls instead of the Japanese 2) in a snowy field. There was a sign encouraging us to do so. We even dressed it in our clothing and had some guy take our picture. Then he took one for himself. It was great. Then we were attacked by a swan that climbed out of a pond and onto some ice. Cooool.

Later, we checked into our ryokan (traditional Japanese-style inn). It was beautiful. We slept on futons and had a traditional Japanese-style meal. I was traveling with a bunch of people who didn.t like raw fish (a personal favorite of mine), so I ate well. Then we slipped our legs under the kotatsu (heated Japanese table) for a while before going to the baths. Group nakedness. That was interesting. The baths were nice and hot and the room was filled with steam. When we got back upstairs, we had a slumber-party-style junk food buffet and went to bed. I.ll fill you in on the rest in a few days. I was lucky to find an internet cafe today. Unfortunately, my time is up.




Sarubobo (or as I like to call him "The Bobester")

Sarubobo

So this little guy--who just happens to have my head--is the mascot of Takayama. His likeness is on every single souvenir and I even brokedown and bought a little cell phone toy of smiling Sarubobo. His name means "Happy Monkey Baby." The legend is that an old woman made the first sarubobo doll for her grandchild in hopes that they.d always be as happy. Yeah, I know. Not very interesting for a legend, but how could I resist the little Bobe-ster?

This picture was taken outside of a store with really cool woodworks. I met this salesgirl my age inside the store who wanted to practice her English. I gave her my address at home in the States and she actually wrote me a letter. We.re penpals now.




Before unpacking at the Ryokan

Day 28 (Tuesday)

We all woke up freakishly early to go downstairs to our old-style Japanese breakfast. Hmmm. This was a little hard for me to eat, so you can guess how my companions were doing. We had these strong miso soup, tea, rice, vegetables warming on a dried magnolia leaf over a fire. And some fish paste looking stuff. There were these vegetables that looked like little greenish-brown snakes and were covered in sesame seeds. Of couse, what Japanese meal would be complete without a nice plate of pickled vegetables. Coming from a country where the only normal pickle is made from a cucumber (well, SOME people eat pickled pigs feets, but I kind of have this thing with feet), I.m not a big fan of Japanese pickled foods. I can eat them though.

Though I tried everything and ate most of it, I wasn.t really satisfied. The others were hungry too so we left the ryokan in search of more food. We decided to head to a post office to cash some traveler.s checks when we discovered a panya (bread store). Hooray! We ate bread for lunch and bread for dessert, carefully packing some bread for the road. Since it.s kind of taboo to eat and walk, we stood hundled under the store.s awning, munching our treasure.

We went to a morning market and tasted all of the free samples of candy and tea. The candy was really good (and we felt a little guilty for tasting so much) so we all bought a little something. We decided to see the lacquerware museum. It.s not really my thing, but my friends wanted to go and I wanted to find somewhere with a heater. It started to rain really hard--there were feet of snow, yet somehow it could rain--so we paused for a break under the entrance-way to a shrine. Two girls in an Tracker were spinning their wheels trying to get out of the snow. My friends and I ran over, made a little "want us to push?" sign and pushed them out. They looked really surprised and started laughing. Good times.

We continued on in the rain, looking for the museum, when we found a combini (convenient store). We promptly entered and bought more bread. By this time I was cold, wet, and tired of bread, but I was still having a good time. We found the laquerware musem about an hour and a half later. After that, we bought another round of bread and walked our dough-engorged bodies to the bus station. It was a great trip, though I don.t think I.ll ever be able to enter another panya.




Cults are scary, but this place is really pretty

The Doomsday Cult Building

This here is the Doomsday cult building that my friends and I visited. I don.t remember the name of the religion, but...uhhh,...yeah. The building was huge and gold leafed and looked like it had a big pickled plum on top. The people inside were nice, but when we entered the building the women were singing and praying in the bathroom. The huge sanctuary had a 60 foot aquarium full of fish and background woldlife scenes about 20 feet up in the air. Strange. This one woman kept taking my arm and leading me places. Kind of scary, but nice.

We.re were totally scared the whole time. Everything was eerily quiet. Afterwards we went outside and climbed the stairs to take some more pictures. Freaky, man.




The happy jinja...so pretty in the snow

The happy jinja

This is a picture of the jinja (shrine) we were loitering nearby when we gave the girls' jeep a push. We were so cold, wet, and tired. The jinja was beautiful. I totally suggest just taking the time to hang out around one. But, I suggest that you wait for summer.

*All in all, I had a great time.



Previous
***The 4-Week Break: What Have I Learned So Far?
Next
Week #5 (Naked Men and Perverts)
  Shub Ganster - Bio and Journals
  It begins. - Intro Average Rating of 21 Viewers
Chapters of It begins.
  Getting There
  Week #1
  Week #2
  Week #3
  Week #4
  ***The 4-Week Break: What Have I Learned So Far?
  ***Trip: Hida Takayama
  Week #5 (Naked Men and Perverts)
  Week #6
  ***Trip: Kyoto
  Week #7
  Week #8
  Week #9
  Week #10
  Week #11
  Week #12
  Week #13
  Week #14
  Week #15
  Trip: Shizuoka (Take 2)
  Week #16
  Week #17

Happy Trails to You

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