Travel Notes: Hida no Sato in the snow
Today was super beautiful here in Takayama – a lovely 36 F (2 C?) and quite a lot of sun peeking through! I woke up seeing my breath even from the covers in bed, but fought the cold and started toasting up the kitchen which started off at 35 F. It would have been very easy to stay snuggled inside in my PJ pants, and find things to do around the house, but I had already set my mind on going to shoot photos at Hida No Sato (Hida Takayama Folk Village) as long as the weather wasn’t too terrible, and now that we are counting down the weeks until moving day, I have to do these things asap – I might not get so many good days for shooting before I am gone!
So, I bundled up in some layers, added my snow pants, scarf, fox hat (ok, it looks like a dog – but foxes are so much cooler!) complete with ears, and put on my serious winter boots. I skipped my coat since it can be kind of bulky, so I stepped outside and to my surprise, it was pretty sunny and felt pretty warm. Off I went! Usually it’s something like 700 or 800 yen entry fee, but a perk of living here in the country is that residents can visit with no charge! While a lot of snow had melted on my own street, this was a little higher up the mountain, so they still had a decent amount of snow. The big central pond had mostly frozen over and the mean old swan that lived there was putzing around the ice. He didn’t seem too impressed with the visitors at this time. I followed the main tour route around and skipped some of the first few buildings since I had seen them in the fall.
The sun was shining and I started shooting… at one point I stopped to survey where to head next, I met a group of older folks from Aichii Prefecture in town on a tour. They wanted to know where I was from, and when a few minutes later we would up all trying to take shots of the same building & wood carver, I somehow found myself modeling for them all! 5 cameras all aimed at me from 3 different angles and big smiles everywhere – even though I hate having my picture taken, I couldn’t not smile for them all. I heard cries of ‘Kawaii boushi! (cute hat!) and in the end my new friends gave me a little packet of wooden spoons that were being hand carved inside the building. Always an adventure being a gaijin (foreigner) in this land. I might need to order a truck load of Chicago skyline keychains to start handing out!
There was a period of about 20 minutes where the sun was still shining just as bright but huge fluffy snowflakes started coming down and it made for a perfect end to the best possible winter weather photo shoot. I’m definitely glad I ventured out of my warm kitchen today!
The Hida Folk Village is a preservation area of traditional houses and lifestyles in Japan. The difference from Shirakawa-go (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) is that the buildings (there are over 30) were moved here from different parts of the Hida region – at Shirakawa-go, the houses are in their natural locations and some are even inhabited by the local families still. Hida no Sato is actually pretty interesting – it’s not just these old buildings, but you can walk around in them (as long as you remove your shoes in the entrance!) and get the Japanese experience and some of them have local artisans working on traditional arts & crafts in the old fashioned ways. There are also several stamps that you can collect. This seems to be a pretty common thing in Japan, and I have decided that I will need to get an unlined notebook in which to collect as many stamps as possible from everywhere I go while I live in this country! Mission accepted! 😀