Ken Chin-Purcell

May 27, 2023

Japan day 12: Tour Bus

The day started with arranging to ship our bags. We’re now fully on board with the glories of takkyubin. For less than $20 your bag is transported overnight and is waiting for you in your next hotel room. Overnight shipping, door to door, big suitcase, twenty bucks per bag. We just pull out one day’s stuff into a small duffle and enjoy our trip luggage free.

If Antique Inn Sumiyoshi ryokan had a front desk it’s been buried under knick knacks. Here the owner helps me fill out the takkyubin form using the top of the entrance area space heater.


So I will just get to the point here and say that we probably should have stayed in Takayama and gone to the museum where all those gigantic floats were kept. We had a nice day, but Takayama itself had more interesting things to explore. It’s hard to know what’s what ahead of time.

Anyway, a few weeks ago I noticed there was a “World Heritage UNESCO Folk Village” about an hour away by bus, so I had signed us up for that. So similar to Kamikochi we rode on a mountain highway through tunnels and across bridges, this time in a small tour bus.


Where we arrived at Gokayama and Shirakawa-go, two villages that still have many of their old thatched roof wood houses intact.


The only thing was we had seen a variety of these old wood houses at the Hida Folk Village several days ago. Although there was a particularly grand house at the Folk Village, where we are enjoying the hearth below.

There were two parts to Shirakawa-go, a Folk Village museum where houses had been moved to preserve them, and Shirakawa-go village itself.


This Folk Village had a lovely water feature running through it.



But after a while we got a little burnt out on old Japanese houses with thatched roofs and soot black beams inside. So we had a simple soba noodle lunch at the Soba-dojo and headed out to Shirakawa-go village.

Where we met the throng! Well, a modest sized mostly Chinese throng.


It turns out the Folk Village isn’t officially part of the UNESCO World Heritage area, so the throng wasn’t interested. It felt kind of odd wandering around and gawking at this village where many people still lived. Some of the houses were museums and charged a modest entrance fee, others had multilingual signs saying don’t come in, this is our house! I’m sure it’s a mixed bag for the town, lots of strangers but lots of business. Our guide said that it costs 20M¥ to replace a thatched roof now, so they need the cash.

I didn’t get a picture but the boy engineer in me was fascinated by the small rice planting tractor. It had packs of seedlings on a ramp on its rear and these sophisticated pluckers that would grab one seeding out of the pack and stick it in the mud.

Oskie the Bear was there too!


Go Bears!