Japan In Depth - 2015
Pictures from our adventure

 

 

Pictures from 2015 "Japan in Depth" / "Party Train to Takayama" trip

Only pre-trip gathering: Orientation, Sept. 27
         
Gather at home of Robin and Jim        

 

 

October 15 - Travelin' to Japan
Steve and Kitty ->        
Their path At the San Diego JAL counter JAL crew ready to board Hey! We're on a Dreamliner Love the lighting
        While it was cool that the plane was a Dreamliner, and the service was good, the seats were cramped and the food was disappointing. I don't think we'll re-consider flying JAL for some time.
Heck of an entertainmentsystem The only way to fly! Mysterious light: sun through window light screening Mysterious light: sun through window light screening  

 

 

October 16 - Arrival Japan
Steve and Kitty ->        
  Exchange our vouchers for our JR passes The Narita Express (NEX) arrives    

 

 

October 17 - to Nagano
         
Breakfast at Shinagawa Prince (relfection is zipper in jacket) Waiting for our first shinkansen And here it comes! Arrival in Nagano From the 1998 Winter Olympic Games
    We found a little restaurant near Nagano station for lunch:   Every day we find a surprise. Today, there is an open mic stage outside the station.
Outside of Nagano station Outside of Nagano station   Specialties are pork cutlets and squid Today's pleasant surprise
         
Nagano open mic: Young people's band Young people's band: percussion section An appreciative audience Very entertaining
Live act
Next act up: Hawaiian dancing
Our expedition to visit the Snow Monkey Park   In Yudanaka, we take a couple of taxis to the parking lot nearest the park.    
  Local train to Yudanaka   Shrine next to the parking lot Small stream near parking lot
  A short walk to a bridge over a stream and we spot ...      
We are heading in the right direction   Our first couple of snow monkies (Japanese macaques) Our second snow monkey sighting Still a ways to walk to the main site
    There are lots more pictures from snow monkey park here   In the evening, we had an izakaya picked out, but when we went there, it was too full. We wandered around a little bit and we were approached by a Filipina woman promoting her restaurant. We gave it a try and made it work like an izakaya for us!
A few rules        

 

 

October 18 - in Nagano
For breakfast we ate in the hotel dining room at different times. Robin and Jim ran into a couple on the elevator who told them of a matsuri in the town of Obuse. Matt and Claire rented bicycles to get around, while the rest of us took the local train to Obuse. The train ride was uneventful. As we walked into the town we came accross a mysterious ceremony involving four young girls watched over by a group of older men wearing suits ...    
      Children's ceremony Children's ceremony
         
Children's ceremony Children's ceremony Children's ceremony Children's ceremony Children's ceremony
Part of the ceremony (video) This was a pleasant surprise for the day; and then we came to to the Hokusai Museum, which is an amazing facility exhibiting many of the master's later in life works (Hokusai spent his later years in Obuse)   Of course, no picture taking is allowed. One amazing display was a pair of yatai that Hokusai had painted. They are large, impressive workmanship, and kept in a large climate controlled display case.  
Opens in new window or tab; takes some time to load   Hokusai Museum    
All around this small city you will see story boards on a pole. These contain sliding panels that tell a story as you slide them in their container.     We made our way back to the hotel, and, as arranged, a bus from the Yakimochia ryokan came and picked us up.  
  Story board Story board - close up   Bus to Yakimochia ryokan
         
Yakimochia entrance Main dining area Dinner at Yakimochia Japanese barbecue Dinner at Yakimochia
         
Dinner at Yakimochia Dinner at Yakimochia Dinner at Yakimochia    

 

 

October 19 - to Sado
        The ryokan's bus takes us to Nagno station ...
Morning at Yakimochia Breakfast at Yakimochia Breakfast at Yakimochia Breakfast at Yakimochia  
         
Local train to Noetsu Jambo taxi to Noetsu Port Noetsu Port Our ferry to Ogi Port on Sado Island Views from the ferry
        From the port, we caught a local bus to where the tub boats sail ...
Views from the ferry Views from the ferry Views from the ferry Ogi Port  
         
Bus to tub-boats Bus to tub-boats Help from the friendly bus driver Tub boats Tub boats
         
Tub-boat sailor Tub boats Robin, Claire, and Kathy get a tub boat ride Tub boats Bridge connecting two islands that form a cove
        After our rides in the tub-boats, we climbed back up to the road to catch the bus back to town ...
Along the way Interesting lamp View of the Japan Sea Any questions?  
         
Palm trees grow on Sado Island!        
Well, we took the local bus back to town, then caught another bus to our lodging, the Yahatakan ryokan; I have no pictures yet, but hope the other travelers will have something to add.   In the evening we decided to head out to Aikawa, a small nearby town that has an annual festival on this evening. We took a taxi to the town and found a restaurant for dinner before things get rolling ...    
        Dinner in Aikawa
         
Getting ready for the festival Getting ready for the festival Parading to houses in the neighborhood Parading to houses in the neighborhood Parading to houses in the neighborhood
         
Aikawa festival celebrants Moveable orchestra      

 

 

October 20 - to Kanazawa
This was a rough travel day, and no pics: Leave hotel to Ogi port by local bus ... Ferry back to Noetsu Port. We were told it was a short walk to the train station. But it turned out to be half an hour or more, carrying our bags. In hindsight, a taxi would have been a better choice. Local train to Nagano station, then catch the shinkansen to Kanazawa. Hotel shuttle to the Kanazawa sai no niwa, a hotel that just opened six months earlier; we liked it so much I built a special web page just for that hotel.

 

 

October 21 - in Kanazawa
Kanazawa is a great city. The most famous attraction is the Kenrokuen garden ...        
  Kenrokuen garden Kenrokuen garden Kenrokuen garden Kenrokuen garden
         
Kenrokuen garden Kenrokuen garden Kenrokuen garden Monument to Bashoo Bashoo was a haiku master
         
Kenrokuen garden - a wounded tree Kenrokuen garden Kenrokuen garden Kenrokuen garden - tea house Looks like it was a blue day
         
Lunch near the garden Display in a store Dinner at an izakaya near our hotel The izakaya Our waitress had a great smile
         
Posing with the tourists        

 

 

October 22 - to Takayama
In the morning we travel to Takayama; shinkansen from Kanazawa to Toyama, then Hida Express to Takayama.     We find the station jammed with people. Turns out there are massive improvements and construction under way to totally redo the station.  
  Delicious bento Cool bridge   Plans for Takayama eki
A small crowd of people meet us at the station, then we head to the tourist office, get dressed in kimonos, and walk around the old town. Kimono walk pictures are here After we change back to our regular attire, we ride the van to the Open Heart Pension. This cozy, classic chateau-style lodging is just perfect for our stay.    
      The great room is cozy Dinner is served
         
A real feast! The Hirakawas working in the kitchen Akila is enjoying his meal!    

 

 

October 23 - in Takayama
         
Start your day with a great breakfast Kathy and Jim linger a bit Kyoko pauses for a second Osamu prepares for the day Claire is ready
Busy day ahead: Shin Hodaka Ropeway cablecar, lunch, Hida village, shopping, then right to party (change at the Takayama City building first)        
  Here comes Kathy Steve has a change of clothes and the dulcimer Matt has shoes Kitty has a change of clothes and omiyage
      After a drive through beautiful country, we arrive at the cablecar site, Shin Hodaka  
Claire chats with Osamu Kathy, Jim and Robin load up Doing our homework   There it is
         
A closer view Notice it's two levels high Walk up to base station Base station Seats for listening
         
Izanagi was playing live Brilliant colors The entranceway On top of the world All together at the top of the world
         
View of Mt. Kasa The story Geology lesson Riding back down Such a beautiful day
         
The countryside around Shin Hodaka The countryside around Shin Hodaka Walk across the bridge for scenic photos Robin and Jim Three musketeers
         
Scenic View Waterfalls Waterfalls Steve & Kitty on the bridge Steve & Kitty with background
We drive to a place for lunch, owned by a friend of Charlene's ...       Then we drove back in to town to visit the shunkei (lacquerware) master ...
  All that altitude makes you hungry This should tide us over The rest of the crew  
         
A visit to Kumazaki Enter through garage Of course, take your shoes off Kumazaki sensei Work space
      Apply the lacquer (video)  
Tools of the trade We start with a tray already made Scrape off the application blade, then begin ... Opens in new window or tab; might take some time to load Rapt observers
Apply the lacquer (video) Apply the lacquer (video) Apply the lacquer (video) Apply the lacquer (video) Apply the lacquer (video)
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(This video has poor focus; sorry)
  Once nice, unusual thing: he did not try to sell any of his wares - that is for the stores and distributors.      
A brief look at his inventory   Sensei and visitors    
After some omiyage presenting and pictures, we head on out to Friendship Park Takayama's "Friendship Park" has items from Denver as well as from Takayama's other friendship cities      
    City of Denver Park sign Survey of park Survey of park
         
Survey of park Survey of park Survey of park   After a short while at the park, we went on to Hida no sato: "Hida Folk Village"
         
On entrance to the park Same shot, different light Wild life Fall colors Fall colors
         
Fall colors Fall colors Jizou-Bosatsu Basinette for bride Wedding info
         
Fall colors Fall colors Jizou-Bosatsu ==> Jizou-Bosatsu Matt takes a selfie
Then, we still had some time to fill, so we stopped at a garden supply store, at Claire's request, then at the Green Hotel for a little shopping. Then we headed to the Takayama City government building, where we commandeered a couple of rooms for us to change for the upcoming party.        
  Waiting to go the party Waiting to go the party Waiting to go the party The dulcimer is ready to go
  After a brief wait, we walked to Yamajin for our party. Pictures from the party    
The ever-youthful Kazumi Tanaka   A separate page    

 

 

October 24 - to Tokyo
In the morning, we had breakfast at 6:30 so we could leave at 7:00 in time to catch the 8:00 a.m. bus to Tokyo. Only pictures I have are of our friends:     Note that Robin and Jim stayed behind: they are extending their trip. Arriving in Tokyo, we walked to our hotel - pretty hefty walk in warm weather. No pictures available.
  The Tanakas The Koyamas    
That evening we found a local Irish pub for a drink then a local yakitori place for dinner. We were joined by a long time friend of Matt's (previously home stayed with Matt and his family): Atsushi.        
         

 

 

October 25 - Tokyo then homeward bound
The last morning, Kitty and I got together with long time friends Shino and Tetsu (brother and sister) and Yoko (Testu's wife)        
  Testsu, Yoko, Kitty Yoko, Steve, Testsu, Kitty Steve, Shino, Testsu, Kitty Steve, Shino, Yoko, Kitty
Steve took an interest in the 'cocoon building', which we are told is a design center        
  Cocoon building 1 Cocoon building 2 Cocoon building 3 People watching while waiting for the airport bus
We catch the bus to Narita, go through check in, baggage check, security, currency exchange and boarding; fly home; no pics - what were we thinking?