Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Japan Trip 2018/2019 Part 7 : Hida Folk Village and Hida Takayama Teddy Bear Eco Village

We left Shirakawago on the 17:20 bus that we had pre-booked for Takayama to stay at Ryokan Murayama. I did not think 2~3 hours was enough for Shirokawago so we spent about 6 hours there. Surprisingly, there were plenty of tourists who did not make any bookings but there seemed to be plenty of seats on the no reservation buses.

Ryokan Murayama was a bit farther from the town we it took a taxi there from the station for 1000 yen. We could not make the kaiseki dinner and I was not sure if there were any eating places close to the ryokan, especially at this time of the year so we ended up buying a lot of konbini food to eat in our room.

It was after arriving that we found out there was a sukiya (I think) and other eating places 15 minutes walk away. Oh well.

The good thing about staying at Ryokan Murayama was that its a stone's throw away from the Hida Folk Village and the Teddy Bear Museum. Hida Folk Village is basically a mini Shirakawago.

Beware of bears sign. I played Yakuza 5 and watched Golden Kamuy so I know how to deal with bears.

Walking to the Hida Folk Village.

We arrived pretty early, around 10ish so there wasn't anyone around.

A bunch of ducks somehow surviving on the pond in winter.

Snow covered steps to a small shrine that unfortunately we were not allowed to climb because of the heavy snow.

Such a beautiful snowscape.

One of the houses at Hida Folk Village.

I really liked how the houses really gave me a feel for how people lived back in the Golden Kamuy days.

A snow creature that (´・ω・`) created.

This family brought their snow dog to the Hida Folk Village.

 Taking a break at next to the ashtray.  Forgot to mention that we've come across inconsiderate dog owners who brought their regular dogs to cold areas in Kanazawa and Takayama.

Jizo statues.

I guess you could call this winter komorebi? (sunlight filtering through trees) Credit (´・ω・`) for the nice pictures because she actually puts effort into them while I just point and shoot.

Kimi no na wa white chocolate cookies with baka, aho and Kimi no na wa printed on them. I guess the girls hometown was based on Takayama?

After the Hida Folk Village, we went back downhill to the Teddy Bear Museum Cafe for lunch.

Its called the Eco Village because its got some exhibits about ecology at the first floor.

That is one humongous teddy bear.

My favourite piece from the Teddy Bear Museum.

There's a suspicious looking bear in this picture who doesn't look like he belongs. Next post, lots of hida beef pictures and the Takayama Showa-kan museum.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Japan Trip 2018/2019 Part 6 : Shirakawago (guest post)

Hello, I will be making a guest post for this day of the trip spent in Shirakawago. This is my first blog post, so please be gentle!


Shirakawago is a rural village tucked away in the Gifu prefecture, and has been a must-go-to on my list for quite some time. Fans of the visual novel Higurashi no Naku Koro ni may recognise this place as it is the setting for Hinamizawa. 

Although Shirakawago is more famously known for its Summer scenery, the snow does not take away from its beauty.

Upon arrival after a 50-minute bus ride from Kanazawa we were immediately met with a stunning snowscape, with snowfall following shortly thereafter.

The crowds dispersed from the bus terminal and like many others our first stop was this food stall and souvenir shop. 

The area’s regional specialty is its beef – each skewer set us back ¥600 (approx. $8) and was worth every cent. Only seasoned with a little salt, the meat was plenty flavourful and incredibly soft. Yes, we even went back for more!

Rugging up.

Continuing the walk.

A little ways down a hanging bridge needed to be crossed in order to access the first viewing area. A little congested, we eventually made it through.

Certainly no shortage of funny snowmen. 

Amazed at how any vegetation manages to survive in this weather.

Stopping by one of the shrines. Here I thought tori covered in moss was the best it could get.

What is most unique about this village is the style of roof adorning each of the houses and shops.

We even got a chance to enter one of the houses and explore its entirety, with pieces of crockery and tools on display.

Despite the fairly sharp angle, snow piles up and proves quite a nuisance. We came across this one particular owner in a t-shirt, nonchalantly sweeping it off. Mind you it was about -6C at the time.

Pillow-y, fresh snowfall. Just magical…

…and all too tempting to jump in.

 At about halfway through the journey we stopped at a rest area to defrost and sample a beef croquette [oops, forgot to take a photo] accompanied by a warm yuzu drink. Sadly the croquette was not really comparable to the aforementioned skewers. 

Waiting in line before us was, to my amazement, a Hanyu cosplayer! I was a little too shy to ask for a photograph with him. I was just happy to know another Higurashi fan was also visiting during Winter! True dedication as he must have been so cold.

The sun kindly came out as we ascended to the main outlook.

Getting hit with a snowball won’t hurt if it’s made with love, right?

View from the summit. Even in Winter I could still picture Rika and Akasaka here.


It was a little slippery - the umbrellas did not go to waste after it stopped snowing.

Snow-covered mountains we were in awe at on the way there.

Pretty persimmon tree spotted on the way back.

Sadly, due to the amount of snowfall, a lot of the village was sectioned off and I was unable to visit a few of the key areas from Higurashi – such as Rika and Satoko’s house. However, I will definitely make the pilgrimage again in the Summer months to tick all locations off.

Apologies for the longevity. Really, no photo could capture how enchanting Shirakawago is. You will need to see it for yourself! Everyone we passed had a smile on their face.

Thank you for reading!