Old Takayama is a maze of wooden two storey houses, filled with sake breweries, restaurants and craft shops.
They specialise in wooden homeware, like bowls and clogs.
And the most beautiful, and intricate, dolls.
However, sooner or later, the cult of Hello Kitty inevitably appears. Here, he’s even dressed in the regional attire.
In the morning, the floats were on display in the street. Each float ‘belongs’ to a Takayama family; knowing the Japanese, probably the old families of the town.
We got a first-hand look at how beautiful, intricate and unique each one was.
Luckily these floats get an airing twice a year, in April and October, so that locals and visitors alike can marvel at its beauty.
We’ll have a look at more market produce today.
There are decorative reeds with little dolls that are a speciality of the town.
This obaasan (grandmother) was selling some corn posies.
Actually, there were plenty of decorative corn for sale.
But I was more fascinated by the boxes of wasabi. Yep, that’s what they look like fresh. The paste that we get in Australia is actually dyed horseradish.
By day, Takayama is a pretty and vibrant place.
Children feed the fish in the river.
And when they get hungry themselves, they line up for grilled mochi (with a soy glaze) on a stick. Mochi is rice pounded until it reaches a springy, dough consistency. Then it can be glazed and grilled…
Or it can be made into a sweet. We watch an expert sweet mochi maker ply his trade. By the time he finishes dicing the batch we knew we had to try some.
Takayama is a town in Gifu Prefecture, in the middle of the Japanese Alps. It’s claim to fame is its sake and its elaborate autumn and spring festivals. On my trip to Japan in 2006 I was lucky enough to visit during the autumn festival. The streets were filled with vendors of all kinds, but the food stalls were of the most interest to me!
This one is making red bean or custard filled little buns.
Charcoal grilled freshwater fish.
Traditional paper dolls.
But the main attraction at night were the giant floats that were hauled through the streets.
Later on we’ll be studying them close up in daylight.
We ordered two dishes for mains. First, steamed barramundi fillets and vegetables. It was a very delicate dish that could have used a bit more seasoning, but the veges and fish were all cooked very well.
But my favourite of the day was gai yang, barbecued lemongrass chicken fillets. Lovely marinade and charcoal flavours served with sweet chilli sauce.
I found the recipe in one of my books at home. It looks simple enough so I might make it one day.
While we waited for the main we looked around the little courtyard where most of the tables were located. The owners have tried to create a peaceful ambience with an assortment of Buddhas scattered through the area.
A few tropical plants also added to the atmosphere, but all in all, low maintenance seems to be the over-arching theme.
I realise that I’ve not posted about food for a long time. Probably because I’ve not taken my camera to restaurants for a while. Well, I’ll try to get back in the act, starting with a Thai lunch.
We’d been to KB Thai in Woy Woy before and had a great meal, so we were keen to try it again. We started off with some prawn won tons that were nice and light with a hint of ginger.
Next was barbecued prawns, which were less successful. They were prawns on a stick really, and after deshelling and desticking, the resulting flesh wasn’t exactly worth the effort.
In the churchyard was a large tree with spectacular flame-coloured blooms. Have no idea what this is, but it certainly made a dreary Sunday morning very bright indeed.
Just as I’d taken my last photo of the chapel, the rain came pouring down. We hastily took shelter under a little awning and looked out on to the small cemetery. Here, old sandstone headstones, weathered and lichened, mingled with newer marble ones. As the rain came down over the fields, there was peace.