On Location: Bowling for Takayama

By: leelefever on May 20, 2006 - 12:45am

I never knew much about the mountainous areas of Japan other than the fact they are high enough and get enough snow to host a Winter Olympics, as they did in Nagano in 1998. 

Despite being hard to get to from the west coast (Kanazawa) and rain being the dominant condition, the Japan Alps have been a truly worthwhile experience.  We’ve spent the last three days in small city of Takayama and the tiny village of Kamakochi, both in the Japan Alps.

Takayama is famed for its charm, as it has been able to hold onto it’s historical past through the preservation of traditional family homes.  You can walk across the whole town in 20 minutes and most of the sites are within a 500 meters of one another.  Like so many towns, it has it’s special selections of foods and Takayama’s is Hida Beef and Hodo Miso, which is cooked on a magnolia leaf.  We enjoyed the street food as always.  This is Sachi with grilled mochi (rice) balls.

Like Tsuwano, Takayama has a too-good-to-be true feeling. I don't know how these places stay so impeccably clean and orderly.

We’ve been referring to the movie “The Truman Show” where Jim Carrey plays a character that discovers as an adult that his whole life has been staged for an elaborate TV show.  Walking around some of these towns feels like we must be walking through a movie set, where a director is whispering directions into the ears of the townspeople via tiny earphones.  “OK Ms. Fujimori, when they walk by, stop watering the bonsai tree and smile and wave”.  But, it’s all real- all of it, and that’s the charm for which places like Takayama are known.


Alas, we did get tired of the rain and went bowling for an hour.  Sachi beat me in points, but I beat her 2 games to 1 and declare final victory- though she's filing an appeal. The alley was exactly like any one in America, except it didn’t sell beer.  Everyone sells beer in Japan! It’s even in vending machines. No beer in the bowling alley?  That’s just plain un-Japanese!


We stayed in the mostly characterless Hotel Hana, which is close to both the train station and the sights. We paid about $93 for a western style room.  Many of the hotels we choose are called “business hotels” and are low on charm but have the amenities we prefer, like an attached bathroom and Internet access. 

By: keikann2000 (not verified) on May 27, 2006 - 5:37am


i hope you could enjoy the trip in japan :D