Takayama, festival and all that.

So, I left Matsumoto and came to Takayama. At least this time there was a (mostly) direct route between the mountains. The alpine pass went about as high as I think I’ll ever go and still be on land. When I first saw some snow next to the road I thought it was just some concrete painted a dirty white. But then more and more appeared. By the time the tempreture got to 6 degrees (there we tempreture and direction guides along the road,) I knew it was real. We stopped at a roadside place for a pit stop, and yes, it was very, very cold. Got some pictures of the ice, mainly of a huge chunk in the middle of a car park. Just so I can be sure it was real.

On the way down, I saw a small Grizzly Bear near the road having a wander, looking for food. Mr Ted was most impressed, and wanted to go and play with him, but I suggested it was not a good idea because I’d have to leave him behind. He didn’t like that idea, be he was happy to see the Grizzly Bear.

Over here the traffic lights make a niose when it’s time to cross. When I first heard it in Chiba, I thought it was like a bird or something. But in Matsumoto, near the train station they played music. A sort of atonal/minor weird piece, that made me think of a death march. Not the sort of thing you want to hear when you’re about to cross the road.

At the Minshuku I’m staying at, I finally got a western style pillow to sleep on. It’s not that I can’t handle the bean filled ones, it’s just that they are too small. Way too small. In the morning I usually have a sore neck, but not today. Also I had a really good scrub in the bathroom. Because it’s so cold, and such a pain to have a bath, I don’t have one every day. And I was starting to stink, so much that I’d notice. Which isn’t a good thing because, well, I stank. So I had a scrub. Japanese bathrooms are quite different to Western ones. Usually there are a few shower heads at waist height, and some stools. You sit on the stool and scub yourself and wash your hair, and then when you’ve rinsed you can jump in the bath, And have a good long soak.

But enough about my personal habits.

Takayama is like a rural village, only a little larger. There are morning markets where the local producers bring their wares into town and sell them. I got some sweets, and biscuits, but I don’t know if I can bring them into Australia. I’ll just have to eat them and tell you how yummy they are. I also got this noodle flavouring, which the woman had a large wooden box infront of her with a generic mix, and she’d put the extra ones you wanted into that mix, and then stir them in just a little and put them into the container for you. So this generic mix over time would change flavour over time as different people requested different blends.

Have been meeting different Westerners. In Matsumoto there was Michael, and American who was teaching English (it’s what everyone seems to do,) and he’d been here a week, of which he’d also been sick. He knew two words in Japanese, I’m sure he’ll pick up more as he goes on.

Here in Takayama I met Simon, and Aussie from Newtown. He said I could crash at his place for a few nights so I could see the festival. That’s pretty cool. It’ll also help my budget recover.

This area, known as Hida is famous for it’s beef and produce. Although still expensive, it’s one of the few places you can see cows in pasture. Mmmm, Mountain Whale.

That’s about all. As I get used to the place, things become less novel, so I probably won’t post as often, expecially as I’ll be in Takayama now for a few more days. Perhaps after the Matsuri I’ll post some more. The next part of the trip will be to go north through Toyama to Kanazawa, down to Kyoto where my train passes kick in, and then further west, where hopefully the weather will get warmer, and I can send home some winter clothing and so on.

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