2019 – Week 42

Japan!

I’m finally here. A life-long ambition is finally realised, and it has been a revelation.

Monday we flew in to Tokyo – an easy 9 hour flight. Monday night, a Japanese take on Italian food, with an Australian red wine.

Tuesday things began properly, being picked up at the hotel at 9am, and taken on a private tour of some of Japan’s finest Bonsai artists and their nurseries. A lot of what I saw, I’m not sure how much I can talk about, or show in photos – apparently there is a real problem of bonsai being stolen to order from nurseries, as a result of photos appearing online.

Suffice to say, what I saw was mind-blowing.

Dinner Tuesday night, was Pizza – hilarious, and quite tasty. It was an American-themed pizza and burger 0lace, with Halloween decorations everywhere.

Wednesday, we had a loooong trip to Unazukionsen- unfortunately the Shinkansen was out on a section of track, due to the recent typhoon, so we had to use two different local trains to get between our Shinkansen legs, one of which was only a single carriage.

5 trains total – a long day, but also amazingly interesting. At the end, we arrived at Unazukionsen after dark, walking through the town to our hotel. We went out for Ramen at a local place, and tried the local beer. We did some wandering around the town, photographing buildings, and saw a wild tanuki, as well as micro bats.

Thursday, was the tourist train from Unazukionsen, up through the Kurobe Gorge – Japan’s deepest gorge, and home to a network of hydro-electric power stations. The train is a little open sided thing, more like an amusement park ride, and after an hour and a half travelling through some of the most beautiful countryside I’ve ever seen, we reached the end of the line, had lunch at the restaurant, then a couple of hours walk out and back along the line.

We saw a snake.

Thursday night, was dinner at a great little place with a human-sized tanuki statue outside. I had the best deep fried chicken I’ve ever eaten. Dinner was followed by more late night photography.

Friday, I shot a few more images at Unazukionsen, before we headed for Takayama – one local train from Unazukionsen to Toyama, then another to Takayama. We lad a late lunch at an American-themed burger place, then went and did some shopping at the local Uniqlo, bought some snacks, and had an early night.

Saturday (my birthday), we finally saw the scale of tourism in Japan, with massive crowds at Takayama old town – it’s a beautiful place, but very busy. Busy for 3 blocks at least, leave that critical set of streets, and there’s very few people about. Our run of good lunch with weather ran out, as rain set in, bucketing down. Thankfully I had my waterproof travel hat, and all-covering poncho, so we were able to make the best of things, and enjoy our day nonetheless.

Saturday night was Ramen, featuring Hida beef, then on to Japanese whiskey-tasting at a local bar, before roaming the streets for some long exposure photography.

Sunday, a trip to Hida-no-sato (hida folk village), a recreation of various historic farming houses (most the actual buildings moved there and rebuilt). A nice easy morning, before catching a local train through the mountains to Nagoya, then the Shinkansen through Kyoto to Osaka, then a subway line to the hotel at Dotonburi.

Sunday night was spent wandering around, half in a daze, at the Bladerunner-esque madness of the place. A lot of takoyaki was eaten.