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Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Takayama tourist (I wasn't the only one!)

After arriving the previous day, this day was the one where I would submerse myself in the traditional aspect of Takayama. It's a relatively small city/town and the centre of it was easily navigated on foot. Staying near the train station I had a short walk into the historic part of town that had the traditional buildings, beautifully preserved and easy to find. 

The traditional street scape areas were full of tourist this particular morning and it was a week day, I imagine that on the weekend the crowds would be even heavier. I even found the bus parking area where the tour buses parked while the tourists wandered around the town centre. It was full of buses that morning. Having a swarm of tourists all in the street areas made it difficult for me to take photos, since I wanted the streetscape not the tourists! Made plans to return around lunchtime as I reasoned tourists would need to eat so they'd be in restaurants and not so many in the street! 

The amount of tourists did bring to mind Venice (Italy not the LA beach!), it's loved to death by tourists but it means that a visitor's experience of Venice tends to be of crowds, very few locals who make a place more real, therefore it just slips into more of a theme park experience for the people who visit. That was my impression as well with the traditional streets of Takayama as the buildings were souvenir shops and restaurants catering for the tourists. The souvenirs were sweet and tasteful and include things such as exclusive sake stores but it just gave a very touristy vibe to the whole area rather than the naively desired by me 'traditional Japan'.


This scene amused me, as there were tourists (this was a group of Chinese tourists) around a cherry blossom tree all taking the same picture!


I thought this old willow tree was amazing so had to photograph it to share.

Trudged up a hill to a park that had been the site of the Takayama castle (it was destroyed in the 17th century so not there anymore!) Looking for cherry blossoms but the cooler zone meant there weren't any, it was still too early, but I did get a nice view of the town and the Japanese Alps beyond. 


The results of my quest for traditional and no tourists! Even waited for one to move to other side of the street to get this shot! This was a home for a wealthy family.


On the edge of the traditional areas, shops and restaurants. Infront you can see the large gutters for all the rain and water from melted snow, these huge deep gutters are common in Japan due to the high rainfall especially in June which is called the rainy month.


I did get some cherry blossom pics, again on the edge of the old district for fewer people!


This is one of a few souvenir shops opposite the railway station. These types of souvenir shops are commonly found in Japan either near or in railway stations so that Japanese tourists can buy their souvenirs for family and workmates. Each town/region in Japan has their particular food speciality, from what I could see Takayama's was red radish. (Not sure, at first I thought beetroot, but I looked at what is in the packets and it wasn't beetroot but maybe red radish) Japanese tourist are required to bring back 'omiyage' (required as in more of a social obligation, it's not a law!) whenever they visit a new place either on holidays or on day trips, food tends to be the main omiyage, particularly food that is a local speciality so these souvenir shops are conveniently located for the traveller so pick up a few things before they board their train!

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