Thursday, October 29, 2015

Adventures in Sushi-land: Days 4 and 5

After the bustle of Tokyo and the excitement of Disneyland, Days 4 and 5 came as a welcome respite as we wound our way down narrow mountainous roads and took in the rustic beauty of the Japanese countryside.

Day 4: Mount Fuji and Matsumoto 

What's a trip to Tokyo without visiting Mount Fuji? So on Day 4, we got up at the crack of dawn, threw on our coats, and paid her a visit. We were in luck that day, as the weather gods blessed us with clear royal-blue skies and crisp, cold winds. There were other visitors before us who had to contend with heavy fog or rain and didn't manage to capture shots like these:

The sign in the Ladies. Mount Fuji does not need your trash, people.

#nofilter The colours are literally that vivid.

The place where we lunched halfway down the mountain overlooked this beautiful lake.
Hotpot lunch for a chilly day!

The view out the window

After lunch, it was a long coach ride to Matsumoto to view the Matsumoto Castle.

Matsumoto Castle, one of Japan's most historic castles, is also known as Crow Castle due to its black exterior.

Couldn't resist taking a picture under the lush autumn foliage.

Traditional Japanese dinner at our onsen (hot spring) inn was an elaborate affair.

And we got to sleep on tatami mattresses that night!

Day 5: Takayama, Shirakawa-go, and Kanazawa

The view outside our onsen inn the next morning

With our lovely host, who made sure we had the best experience at her inn, from the food to the sleeping arrangements. Despite the language barrier, she made the effort to interact with every one of us, and was, as most Japanese are, unfailingly polite and gracious.

Who needs burgundies and dove-greys? The fall palette should be all about ochre and maple-red.

Any random snapshot out the window put stars in our eyes.

Like a scene right out of Lord of the Rings. Rivendell! 

After our morning hike, we hit the Miyagawa market, which is best known for its dried and pickled foods, as well as home-made rice crackers. You could smell the warm scent of soy sauce and rice brewing in the air as you strolled down the market along the river.


Next stop after lunch was the Ogimachi Gassho village, the largest village in Shirakawa-go. It was declared in 1995 to be a UNESCO world heritage site, with its well-preserved farmhouses that are as old as 250 years old and counting!

Our last stop of the day was the Kanazawa Castle, where the wildest number of crows came to roost in the evening (do crows roost??). Crows are considered sacred in Japanese culture as messenger from the gods, but while they have long been regarded as a symbol of power in Japanese mythology, these days they are also seen as a public nuisance.

Still, Kanazawa Castle is a beautiful place for an evening stroll in autumn.

Such a spread at our second onsen inn!

After this, it's back to the cities for this bunch of urban walkers. Next stop, Kyoto and Osaka!

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