We had another early start this morning at 7:30am. Sleeping on the futons was actually pretty wonderful. Nick and I both had a fantastic night’s sleep and neither of us had any aches or pains the next morning to complain of. We are considering getting one for when we go home ha ha.
Breakfast was an interesting mix of foods including an ‘onsen’ egg, miso, rice, round tofu with bonito on top, sweet egg omelette and a very interesting dish of warmed miso on Hoba leaf which was warmed from beneath. As it was explained to us, the heat of the flame transfers some of the flavour of the leaf to the miso paste. The paste is then eaten with your rice.
After breakfast, we were able to have a bit of time to finish dressing and get ready for the day. We met the group again at 9:00am and headed off first to the station, via the ryokan shuttle bus and then from the station, we caught the sarubobo bus to the Hida Folk Village.
The Hida Folk Village was kind of like Sovereign Hill though several of the buildings were actual originals which had been relocated to this craft village. It was really interesting to learn the history of the region and to get a look at what Japan in bygone years would have looked like.
Nick was really interested as well and went incredibly snap happy. He took several amazing photographs, here is a sample of them here:
We had a few hours to wonder the village and take in the sights. Afterwards we took the bus back into Takayama proper and went and had some lunch at a local venue, selected by one of our tour group which specialised in yakisoba – fried noodles. Nick and I also shared some gyoza (pan-fried dumplings). It was very enjoyable.
We then had some free time to explore the local shrine and market place. Nick and I decided to have a little bit of a relax and have a coffee and our tour leader, Rika directed us to “Coffee Don” – a coffee shop which has been in operation in Japan since 1951. This place was fantastic. They played classical piano music and had a wonderful bar set up but served mostly coffee and cake. Nick and I ordered a cappucino, latte, doughnut (for Nick) and a cream puff (for me). The staff were extremely apologetic cause it would take “about 15 minutes” to get my cream puff as they had to get it fresh out of the oven and whip the cream for the custard. Of course, we were not fussed at all and assured them that we didn’t mind at all.
When they brought us the cream puff, it was absolutely divine. The custard had flecks of vanilla bean and was sensational. The pastry was crisp (fresh out of the oven indeed!) and sweet. I told the staff, in probably terrible Japanese that it was delicious. Eventually, the staff took a couple of polaroid pictures of us and we told them that we were in Japan honeymooning. They also gave us each a packet of haribo jellybeans. So sweet of them.
We met the group again at about 3:30 and then went for sake and miso tastings at local breweries and shops. Nick wasn’t a huge fan of the sake but we both really enjoyed the miso tastings. At the miso factory, they also made 3 different kinds of soy sauce and you actually really could taste the difference between them which surprised me.
After the tastings, we headed back to the Ryokan for our final dinner here where they absolutely pulled out all the stops.
The ryokan had made a veritable feast of salmon sashimi with shiso leaves (the leaves had a very strong herbish cumin taste), bamboo roots, wasabi leaves, egg or tofu with some other kind of root vegetables baked into it, a strange egg custard type of dish with a bean, naruto, shrimp and other assorted goodies. The crowning glory was a steaming hotpot of Hida beef, enoki and shittake mushrooms which was allowed to come to a simmering boil and then you pour a raw beaten egg over it and sort of mix it around. You then allowed the raw egg to cook for another couple of minutes before eating the wonderful product. Of course, there was also the ever-present bowl of rice, broth and noodles with pickled daikon. We also had sweet orange slices for dessert.
After dinner, Naomi, June, Liz and Julie and I stayed up for a while chatting and drinking (I bought a cider at the sake brewery and it turned out to be non-alcoholic – disappointing) for a while. Nick bailed out after a while though, I think all the estrogen got to him. It was somewhat later that I ended up turning in to bed.
Tomorrow we move on to Kanazawa where we will check out the old town and the Kenroku-en gardens so stay tuned for an update then.