Travelogue Japan: Fresh, Local Produce @ Miyagawa Morning Market, Takayama

Want to shop like a local? Stop by Miyagawa Morning Market in the city of Takayama in Gifu, where you’ll find fresh local produce, crafts, souvenirs, food fresh off the grill, regional specialties, and more.

Takayama/Nagoya

The market is one of the largest morning markets in Japan with over 60 stalls stretching a length of 350m next to the roaring Miyagawa River which cuts across town. On a sunny day, you can walk down to the river bank and soak in the sights of the clear, rushing river water, in some parts stocked with koi fish.

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Takayama/Nagoya

The early bird gets the worm – or in this case, the choicest goods! The market starts at 6.30AM, and 8AM in winter until noon.

Takayama/Nagoya

Undoubtedly a tourist spot, we saw many travelers from China, Korea and even some Western tourists, which is pretty rare beyond the confines of large cities like Kyoto and Tokyo.

Takayama/Nagoya

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Seller sorting out some beans.

There is another older market in front of Takayama Jinya, called Jinya-mae, which dates back 300 years! Unfortunately we didn’t have enough time to pay a visit.

Takayama/Nagoya

Some sort of colourful corn that I’ve never seen before!

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Vivid displays of vegetables in bright hues. Everything looked so fresh and tasty!

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Aside from vegetables and fruits, there were also stalls selling snacks. Got a bottle of non-alcoholic sake as a gift for the fam.

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Local specialties.

Takayama/Nagoya

Finally got to try the famous Hida beef! It was quite pricey (like RM15 for a skewer) but good – juicy, flavourful and tender.

Takayama/Nagoya

While waiting for the guys to finish their shopping, Mariko-san and I had some dango (glutinous rice balls on skewers). One was basted in a sweet-savoury miso, while another had been wrapped in a seaaweed before being grilled. The texture was chewy like mochi with a smoky, slightly charred flavour. Not my cup of tea; I prefer them to be sweet. 😀

Getting There 

The Miyagawa Morning Market is a 10-min walk from the JR Takayama Station.

 

 

Travelogue Japan: Takayama Jinya, Last Surviving Government Building From The Edo Era

The Hida region around Takayama was once prized for its valuable timber resources, so it was only natural for the powerful Tokugawa Shogunate to dispatch officials to oversee things at the place. To cater to this, a local government office was built, which is the Takayama Jinya we see today.

As the only building of its kind to be preserved from the Edo era, the Takayama Jinya has been declared a historical asset and national treasure. For over 177 years, Tokugawa samurai have been dispatched from Edo as administrators, tax officers and policemen. During the Meiji Restoration, the building continued to be used by local government officials, right up til 1969. Now home to a museum, visitors can experience life as it was for ruling samurai in the Edo era.

Kanazawa, Japan

The spacious compound is decorated with ripple-like sand patterns, which is an emblem of the Tokugawa family that represents the sea.

Kanazawa, Japan

The main building has numerous tatami-mat rooms and sliding doors, which allowed for plenty of natural light to filter in. ‘Employees’ sat on the floor and worked at low tables. The rooms contrasted starkly to old buildings I have visited in Europe, which were often elaborate and covered in detailing. Here, the aesthetic is simple and Zen-like, the furniture minimal.

Kanazawa, Japan

Kanazawa, Japan

It may not look like it from the outside, but the place was massive! Long corridors and passageways opened up into new buildings, interspersed with beautifully landscaped gardens. The living quarters were a bit more cheerful, with more furniture, as well as decorative scrolls and paintings hung up on the walls.

Kanazawa, Japan

Kitchen area where meals would be prepared by servants. The servants quarters were also located nearby.

Kanazawa, Japan

Kanazawa, Japan

The Takayama Jinya also had an interrogation room where they would keep prisoners (!) accused of various crimes.

Next to the main building is a rice storehouse built in the 1600s, which now houses belongings and documents of past feudal lords, town blueprints as well as old maps of the region.

TAKAYAMA JINYA 

Opening hours: 845AM – 5PM (430PM from November to February, until 6PM in August)

Admission: 430yen

Getting There 

The Jinya is a 10-minute walk from Takayama Station.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Travelogue Japan: Hida-Furukawa – The Small Town Made Famous By An Anime

Even if you’re not an anime fan, you might have heard of the hugely popular Kimi No Na Wa (2016). The movie earned a whopping $355mil at the box office, making it the highest grossing anime film of all time (topping Spirited Away)! It tells the tale of a city boy from Tokyo and a girl in a rural town in Japan who switch bodies, eventually falling in love with each other. Compelling story line aside, the animation is famous for its beautiful art style and references to actual landmarks and gorgeous landscapes in Japan.

One of these places is the small town of Furukawa in the mountainous Hida region, which I had the pleasure of visiting during my recent trip to Japan! 🙂

Kanazawa, Japan

Situated within the mountainous Gifu prefecture, Hida Furukawa is a quaint town with an old touch, since most of its buildings date back to the Edo era. Furukawa, along with sister town Takayama (15 minutes by train) was once famed for their high quality timber and skilled carpenters, so much so that nobles used to hire them to work on buildings in the capital, calling them the ‘Master Builders of Hida’.

Kanazawa, Japan

Today, agriculture is a major source of income for the town’s residents. Streets are quiet on a weekday, so much so that you could probably lie down in the middle of the road and not encounter any traffic! The newer part of town is characterised by small mom-and-pop stores, while the old section boasts typical Edo-era wooden structures.

Kanazawa, Japan

We popped into a local restaurant for a lunch. Since the region is mountainous, there are plenty of ingredients such as roots, shoots and mushrooms in the cuisine. Wasn’t sure what exactly I was eating since the proprietor spoke no English, but I think this was a mix of shoots with plump mushrooms, topped with quail egg and the town’s specialty, miso paste. The savoury miso brought out the earthy flavours of everything else, balanced by the silkiness of the raw egg. Amazingly fresh, amazingly good!

Kanazawa, Japan

Japanese food is always served in such a way that it feasts the eyes before it does the tummy. There was also a soup with noodles, beans, ginger/pickles, miso soup, bamboo shoots and rice.

Kanazawa, Japan

After lunch, we walked to Hida Furukawa Matsuri Hall, a museum dedicated to the town’s history and the Furukawa Festival, an annual event held since ancient times. Participants, dressed in nothing but a loin cloth, pull giant decorated wooden floats that are several stories high through the streets; accompanied by the beat of drums. Atop the floats are various puppets featuring both mythical and historical characters, which are moved to tell stories to eager spectators.

Kanazawa, Japan

Kanazawa, Japan

Back to the streets we go! An interesting point for visitors to look out for are the canals, which are stocked with fat and colourful Japanese koi fish. Strolling through the neighbourhood felt extremely relaxing, what with the gentle breeze and the sound of flowing water.

Kanazawa, Japan

Kanazawa, Japan

Furukawa is also known for its sake breweries, housed in traditional wooden buildings with the signature sugidama (cedar ball) hanging at the entrance. Was surprised to enter one and find that the ‘master brewer’ there was a white American man (!)

Kanazawa, Japan

And finally, we paid a visit to the very famous scene from the Kimi No Na Wa anime, the train station…

Amazingly detailed!

Getting to Hida Furukawa 

Useful guide here

*Photos not watermarked courtesy of Japan National Tourism Organisation