8 ° C at 8:20 am. It’s invigorating!
We are always immersed in the ancient Japan. After about fourty minutes by bus from Takayama, we arrived in Shirakawa-go with a glorious sunshine. This is a village with the traditional architecture preserved, and most still inhabited. The houses are modernized a bit in comparison to Hida Folk Village, but nothing is apparant, seen from the outside. Thatched roofs give a charming air to the village, the streets are reserved for walking from 9am to 4pm and are invaded by busloads of Chinese and German (and also many Spanish). For the record : the Chinese tourist is quite aggressive, ready to shake up everything in its path, bluntly. Being nice is not his concern.
Right next to the village, we can find the park Gassho-sukuri Minka-en who presents twenty-six houses such as Hida Folk Village. The difference is that here, the houses were “relocated” from the area within a radius of ten kilometers and are all from around the same time.
There are two particular scenes that emerge from their houses. The first is the home of Kanta, the little boy in the film by Miyazaki “My Neighbor Totoro”: these homes are mostly farms, with inhabited parts covered with parquet or tatami. We had the chance to see a lit fireplace, inside one of the houses. Usually, because of the highly flammable side of these houses, fires and even cigarettes are strictly prohibited. Well, it … smokes, and smoke protects the house from insects.
The second scene is an outdoor atmosphere, the village of Prince Ashitaka in “Princess Mononoke”, another film by Miyazaki (we have cultural references). This effect is made by thatched roofs. This material is present in the local craft, to the shoes.
Looking out the window of the bus (when we were not in endless tunnels), rural Japan appeared, with its rice fields, crops, vegetables (unexpected).
Returned earlier than expected, we went for a walk in the old city and our steps led us to Takayama Jinya, a former administrative center used from 1692 to 1868 by the local representative of the shogun. In comparison with the French system, it would be a prefecture or rather an Intendance of the Ancien régime, but with military power.
It is the last building of this kind still existing in Japan and is a national historic site. When we compare this building with temples … it’s so simple, so sober! In the temples, there is always fantastic screens, ornate, vast spaces it is possible to partition, sometimes painted Chinese fashion scupltures. In short, it is the wealth. Here, it is the efficiency that prevails. All are simple, sparsely decorated. The offices are linked on one side of a corridor, private apartments are on the other. Only rabbits used to hide the nails bring some decoration …
We made a nice meeting at the restaurant, with the patron and her husband in the kitchen. Note : this is a restaurant that also serve vegetarian food, which is really fabulous in a country which has a beef specialty. So we talked a little in English, she asked us where we came from, and she was surprised by the fact that Xim is Italian and me French. She therefore asked how we met and was really impressed to know that we met in an aikido club. Having realized that we are on honeymoon, she gave us a small gift: bath salts for the onsen. It was a moment so friendly and valuable.
(and Xim has promised a post “special Japanese cuisine.” I put some pressure on him, by announcing that, so he might not forget …)