Trip Report - Japan 5/2019 UPDATED 9/30!! ABD Day 9 - Soy Delicious - Tokyo

  • disneyphx

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Jan 4, 2010
    Bringing back some great memories!
    Funny thing about the bento boxes - at Ikspiari we were in the dollar type store and we saw the same lunch boxes we had been given - 300 yen each. So not fancy, but authentic in a different way I guess!
     

    TarotFox

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Feb 8, 2019
    Foxes are Inari's messengers! Love your pics of Fushimi Inari Taisha, absolutely my favorite shrine in Japan.
     

    sayhello

    Have Camera, Will Travel
    Joined
    Oct 28, 2006
    Bringing back some great memories!
    Funny thing about the bento boxes - at Ikspiari we were in the dollar type store and we saw the same lunch boxes we had been given - 300 yen each. So not fancy, but authentic in a different way I guess!
    Glad you're enjoying! :) Yes, those Bento boxes appear to be what they actually use, more than the fancy versions depicted in things like anime! :)
    Foxes are Inari's messengers! Love your pics of Fushimi Inari Taisha, absolutely my favorite shrine in Japan.
    Thank you! It really was a lovely, very unique shrine!

    Sayhello
     

    sayhello

    Have Camera, Will Travel
    Joined
    Oct 28, 2006
    Day 6 – Go Shirakawa-go!

    This was a day I’d really been looking forward to. Not only was it going to be a cool activity I was really looking forward to – a visit to the isolated mountain village of Shirakawa-go, but it was also my Birthday! I’ve celebrated my Birthday on a few ABD’s and it’s always a fun time, and a great way to celebrate. My Birthday falling during this departure was one of the deciding factors to sign up for this particular date.

    When I woke up in the morning, I found that we were indeed surrounded by mountains, but I was unable to get a photo at that time because the sun was glaring directly from that direction. I was hopeful I could get some photos later in the day.

    After breakfast, we were off! When we got there, we parked in a parking lot, and crossed a suspension bridge over a mostly dry river bed. (It was still pretty cool looking even without much water). There was lots of photo-taking at various spots on the bridge, with the river bed and the trees and mountains behind us.

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    Once we were across, we entered into the historic village of Shirakawa-go in the mountainous area near Takayama. It's a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Because of its remote mountainous location, the town has not changed much over the centuries. Most of the buildings there have steep pitched thatch roofs, which are said to be made to resemble praying hands. It is apparently called Gassho-style, and Shirakawa-go is the only place in Japan where you see this type of home.

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    After a brief introduction and orientation to the town, we were given about an hour to wander around, look at everything, take photos, do shopping, etc., after which we were supposed to head to the restaurant at the end of the main drag for lunch.

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    Of course, my first priority was finding the bathroom (not too far away) and I ended up wandering around solo (although it’s a tiny place; I was constantly crossing paths with the others, for photos and comparing our shopping).

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    We’d been told by James and Tomomi about dolls that are very big in the Hida area around Takayama and Shirakawa-go, called Sarubobo ("Lucky Monkey Baby" dolls). Giving Sarubobo dolls to others is supposed to bring happiness and good luck. They are generally red and sort of star-shaped, and have no face. (Even so, they’re surprisingly cute). Someone told me it was to keep one from having an ugly face if the Grandma wasn't a good seamstress, which could make it bad luck! :) ) So, one of the things I wanted to get was a small Sarubobo.

    Here’s the Sarubobo charm I got. I also got a Sarubobo banner in one of the shops, but it turned out to be a string of 3 banners, and I haven’t quite figured where to put it up yet.

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    You can see here just how massively thick the thatched roofs are. I had no idea they were that thick!

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    I really loved that there was still snow up on the mountain peaks. I had no clue Japan was this mountainous.

    The whole town was just so quaint and peaceful and beautiful. It was really a joy just walking around and absorbing it all.

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    Continued in next post.
     
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  • sayhello

    Have Camera, Will Travel
    Joined
    Oct 28, 2006
    It had turned out to be a gorgeous, blue-skyed day. Just wandering around and taking photos was a pleasure. At one point, I decided to take a roadway off around and away from the main drag, but as I tried to make my way back to the main area, it ended up being one of those “you can’t get there from here” situations, and I had to do some back-tracking. It’s not like I was lost or anything, because seriously, it’s a tiny town. I could see the main street; I just couldn’t get there.

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    The area was just lush and beautiful.

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    One of the fancy man-hole covers of Shirakawa-go. These were a thing in Japan. Frequently, they were painted.

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    Eventually, it was time to head down to lunch. James was outside, directing us to the correct entrance, and taking photos of us with the town behind us.

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    The restaurant was way upstairs. We took our shoes off, and climbed up a very steep set of stairs to get there.

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    Lunch was all set up with little cooking pots (much like the sukiyaki we’d had in Kyoto), with chicken and various vegetables/pickles/tofu, etc. It was all *very* tasty!!

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    Since I was trying to be good, and had told the Guides I was diabetic, the folks at the restaurant gave me, instead of a Birthday cake, a dish of delicious red strawberries. I shared the bounty with the other Adventurers. They were so yummy! Everyone sang Happy Birthday to me using the Japanese phonetic way of pronunciation. It was seriously funny!

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    Me with the Grandma.

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    Continued in next post.
     
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    met19

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Jan 23, 2005
    I know a lot of the future trips won’t be able to see this unobstructed for a while, so I feel so very fortunate that we were able to!
    What did you mean by this? Is the Torii gate under construction or has it been removed from the ABD?
     

    sayhello

    Have Camera, Will Travel
    Joined
    Oct 28, 2006
    I love this, that on his knees, James was almost as tall as Grandma!

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    After lunch, it was a bit hairy getting down the steep staircase in my stocking feet (down always seems scarier!)

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    Once we were all outside, we regrouped. Folks were given the option of a short hike up to the lookout over town, or they could take the motorcoach up.

    That’s the overlook up there.

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    I decided to join the hikers. The weather was still gorgeous, so it seemed like a good choice. If you’re in the mood to do the hike, I say go for it, because there were a few really nice vantage points on the way up.

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    There is a restaurant up on top, and they have built a balcony which overlooks the town. Once we got up to the overlook, we were treated to this amazing view.

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    Just stunning!

    After an orgy of picture taking, we head back out to the parking lot, where we discovered there’s a small ice cream stand, and we are treated by James and Tomomi to some delicious ice cream (either vanilla, or a swirl of matcha and vanilla.) I got the swirl. It was really yummy!

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    Then it was time to load up into the motorcoach, and head back to Takayama for our afternoon’s activities.

    This afternoon, we were split up into 2 groups. Half of us would go on a bike ride through the farmland outside of Takayama, while the other half had a food walking tour of old Takayama. Whichever activity you did this afternoon, you’d do the other one tomorrow morning.

    I was in the group doing the walking tour of old Takayama. Our group was split up even further. Half of our group started with a calligraphy lesson, and the other half started with the walking tour. Then we switched. My sub-group started with the calligraphy. Oddly, the lesson was in a coffee shop. It worked, but It was just odd. I was not very good at the calligraphy, but I gave it a go.

    This, if I remember correctly, says “Takayama”. (Someone correct me if I’m wrong!! 😊 ) the small lettering on the side is my name in katakana.

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    Continued in next post.
     

    sayhello

    Have Camera, Will Travel
    Joined
    Oct 28, 2006
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    After our lesson, we headed out for the walk to old Takayama. It’s a cool area, with a lot of shops that look like they’ve been there for a *long* time. It was kind of an odd food tour, because much of the food was actually in little Tupperware containers that our local guide carried. We stopped outside a shop that sells tofu, and she’d bring out the Tupperware that had little bite-sized bits of tofu for us to try. Some of it was very good, some was odd. But we never went inside of the shop.

    The bridge over to the old shopping district.

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    We did go inside the sake shop for a quick sake tasting. They passed around little plastic bags showing the different qualities of rice used for the sake. After a few confusing minutes, little sake cups and a few bottles of sake were brought out for us to taste. A couple of the sakes we tried were really delicious.

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    We also went into another shop to taste some miso soup (but we only got a few sips) and outside another shop, were given some sweets to try (that were pretty much pure sugar).

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    One of our last stops was at a stand where we got dango, a stick of sweet rice flour dumplings. These were pretty good. I have to admit, my introduction to dango was watching the anime “Full Metal Alchemist”, where in one of the early episodes, one of the main characters, Ed, makes a big deal of chowing down on them. I'm sure they were pretty high carb, but I really wanted to taste them. They were pretty good!

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    At that point, the tour was done. It was a bit of a hike back to where we were meeting the motorcoach, and one of the women in our group was feeling all the time on her feet (and her knees) and she and her husband decided to take a taxi back to the hotel. They asked if I wanted to join them, and I said sure. So, most of the group headed back with the local guide, and Tomomi arranged for a taxi to pick us up, and waited with us.

    We then had a couple of hours on our own to rest up or whatever at the hotel before heading to dinner. I and the couple I was with decided to hit the gift shop and see what they had (we’d heard it was pretty extensive).

    I turned the corner and thought – Gilead!! (I can’t be the only one who sees this! The folks I was with had never seen The Handmaid’s Tale.)

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    After we were done shopping, I headed up to my room to try to get some photos of the view. I think I managed pretty well,

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    Continued in next post.
     
  • sayhello

    Have Camera, Will Travel
    Joined
    Oct 28, 2006
    Who knew Japan was this mountainous?

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    I then headed down outside to see if I could get a clearer photo not through glass, but the setup was really not conducive to that. I did manage to get down to the road past the hotel, and got a few pics, including some shots of our hotel.

    This is not our hotel - it's just a cool zoomed shot I got.

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    This is our hotel.

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    After that, it was time to get cleaned up for our dinner that night at Suzuya. The parking lot down the street from the restaurant was fairly small and narrow, and our motorcoach maneuvered that massive bus *exactly* into the bus-sized painted box designated for him. It was an artful bit of parking!

    Suzuya.

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    We all sat around booths and tables at the restaurant, and took up pretty much most of it.

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    Each table had small hibachis at each place (they were kind of a little pot filled with charcoal with a little wire mesh over it. We had some appetizers, then a plate of gorgeous strips of Hida beef and various vegetables was brought out. You’d place whatever you wanted to grill on the mesh, and turn it as it cooked.

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    It was all so fresh and delicious! Really just mouth-watering!

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    It was a really lovely dinner. The food was excellent, and the atmosphere was fun. It was the perfect ending to a lovely Birthday.

    Tomorrow – more Takayama, and then off to Odawara!

    Up Next: Day 7 – Seaside Bound
     
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    sayhello

    Have Camera, Will Travel
    Joined
    Oct 28, 2006
    What did you mean by this? Is the Torii gate under construction or has it been removed from the ABD?
    The Torii gate is undergoing an extensive refurbishment, so it's got scaffolding over and around it. It's still on the ABD, it just may not be very visible.

    Here's a photo I found on the Internet:

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    Sayhello
     
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    Calfan

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Aug 31, 2009
    Definitely Gilead! LOL That's the first thing I'd think of too, seeing all that teal blue.

    Great trip report. I'm really enjoying it.
    I know! Right? :)

    Glad you're enjoying my report!

    Sayhello
    Absolutely! The Handmaid's Tale is my current streaming obsession. I've got 2 more episodes to go in Season 3. Gilead has taken on a whole new meaning. There is a prominent sponsor of Cal Athletics, Gilead Sciences, a biotech firm in the Bay Area. But all I could think of was The Handmaid's Tale when I saw Gilead's advertising on the message boards in the stadium at Cal's first home game. Such a bad connotation. Wonder if they are thinking of changing their company name....
     

    sayhello

    Have Camera, Will Travel
    Joined
    Oct 28, 2006
    Absolutely! The Handmaid's Tale is my current streaming obsession. I've got 2 more episodes to go in Season 3. Gilead has taken on a whole new meaning. There is a prominent sponsor of Cal Athletics, Gilead Sciences, a biotech firm in the Bay Area. But all I could think of was The Handmaid's Tale when I saw Gilead's advertising on the message boards in the stadium at Cal's first home game. Such a bad connotation. Wonder if they are thinking of changing their company name....
    Season 3 has been quite the ride, hasn't it? :eek: Enjoy the last 2 episodes!!

    That has to be odd for them, having a company name that suddenly has such a negative attached to it now. If ever a name change was warranted, it would be this!

    Sayhello
     

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