posted on Friday, October 31, 2008

Japanese Holiday

Seems like I can't get enough of Japan these days... not only going few times a month for work but also spending yet another 10 days break there visiting places I had been to as well as new ones.
After few days in Tokyo I headed with Yumiko for a few days in the Hida region of Japan. This was actually one of the places I visited on my first ever trip to the country, cycling on my mountain bike through the japanese Alps!
This time around I must admit those days seemed far and I have given in to comforts of buses and hired cars too, thanks to Yumiko the best driver I had the fortune to have! I wouldn't have liked trying to navigate the japanese GPS system and automatic gears on my own. Surely the gentle female voice telling me in the most polite japanese possible that I am a fool and have yet again missed the right turning on the road, would have driven me to despair in no time!
Highlight of the visit was the day spent in Shirakawa a mountain village and World Heritage site famous for some of the best preserved traditional Gassho Zukkuri houses. These I had seen before, often reconstructed as a kind of open air museum but here there were many dozens, very well preserved and often still lived in by the original family that built them; the village is mostly made of such houses and it is always amazing to see how much their simple and almost primitive exterior with grass roofs gives way once inside to the most refined and beautiful japanese interiors of shoji, tatami mats and very decorated fusuma. Of course be prepared to face the constant stream of tourists savouring those precious and shrinking remainders of japanese past.

Photos of the trip are here.