Today was a full day in the Hida hillside town of Takayama. Famous for its float festivals, wooden lacquer ware and local delicacies, including Hida Beef, this town offered the students plenty to explore. After another traditional meal, this time a breakfast, in the ryokan, our group set out towards the morning market. From their, the students split off into groups to explore the town in more depth. Temples, cultural landmarks, marketplaces, lunch and sunshine gave us all the makings of a great day! At 1:30 our group reconvened at the train station to trek up to the Hida No Sato traditional village, with its thatched-roof houses. Here our group got together and prepared, for the first time, our performance of Carley Rae Jepson’s “Call Me Maybe” which we’ll be performing next week at our farewell ceremony at the school. The village also offered the students an opportunity to display feats of strength by hoisting boulders, and the chance to see what a genuinely traditional home would have looked like here many years ago. This evening was our “last supper” as a group, as tomorrow we’ll be spending the day on local trains and bullet trains on our way to Chiba to meet with our Japanese friends and host families!
Today was our earliest morning yet as we rose at 5AM! With a long travel day ahead of us to Takayama, we wanted to take advantage of the morning and get out to see something completely new. Once again we ventured where no previous Handsworth group had gone and visited one of the three most famous views of Japan: The Floating Torii Gate of Miyajima. Getting there before the crowds gave us the opportunity to take some fun, campy photos. Channeling our inner “Street Fighter”, our group took some “Hadouken” photos with the Torii Gate in the background (…it’s an internet meme!). Then it was onto 2 bullet trains, and a special rapid train – almost 5 hours of train travel, plus stops before arriving at Takayama. In Takayama we are staying at a traditional Japanese ryokan. Our bags were picked up at the train station and our group walked 15 minutes as night began to fall, singing “Bohemian Rhapsody” and “Don’t Stop Believing” as we made our way to the ryokan. Upon arrival we found, prepared by our hosts, a traditional Japanese dinner. Today ended with a traditional spa experience in the ryokan sento. Journals and then off to bed! Tomorrow we explore Takayama.