Saturday, December 24th, 2016 • Osaka Day 5
10:30 Up and ready to head out. Had a bit of a delay, because the earliest buses to Shirakawago was full, not to mention we had no way of coming back because the return buses were all full too. Eeps. Figured we’d head down to the Bus station to ask.
10:39 Turning left after taking the east gate exit from Kanazawa station, then walk past all the line ups at the bus stations and the mall to your left, you’ll get to Hokutetsu Ticket Office. Unfortunately, they said the next available bus is at 14:10, which seemed a tad late. (Buses to Shirakawago 08:10, 08:40, 09:10, 09:40, 10:50, 12:40, 13:10, 14:10, 14:40, 16:00). Especially since we heard from a frequent traveller that they had a 3-hour delay on the road, and this weekend being a public holiday for Japanese as well, a traffic jam seemed very likely.
10:52 Instead, we decided to ask at the Transportation Information Centre (right outside the east gate exit. She gave us an amazing idea: take the 12:28 – 12:41 shinkansen from Kanazawa station to Shin-takaoka station, 1530 yen one way, then 13:35 – 15:30 bus from Shin-takaoka station to Shirakawago, 1800 yen one way. Round trip for 3500 yen. However, the last bus leaves Shirakawago at 16:00, which gives us an absolutely full 30 minutes to… i dunno… peer out the station? (excuse my sarcasm, i was rather annoyed by this time at both our poor planning skills). We were about to scrap the whole idea of going, except i really wanted to go! Our backup plan was to go Osaka Castle and see the ninja show, which was interesting, but…
10:56 At the mall at Kanazawa station for some souvenir shopping.
Kanazawa gold flake rasuku 75g x2 (approx 28 pieces), 972 yen.
Jagabee crab flavoured dip, 800 yen (without tax), 864 yen (with tax), x2.
Hello Kitty with gold flakes, 648 yen.
Total 3,348 yen
Kanazawa black curry okaki, 648 yen (with tax).
Total 648 yen.
11:38 After a little consideration, and walking around the mall looking for bento box for our train ride back to Osaka, I decided I really didn’t wanna waste my Christmas Eve with a backup plan, and I was willing to risk it, even if it meant not making it to Osaka by tonight (and cutting my shopping plans short). So back we went and got the 14:10 bus tickets, for 1850 yen per person.
11:48 Kanazawa Forus.
With those plans decided, we went for a little shopping which we didn’t get time to yesterday night. There are 7 floors of shops and restaurants. The 7th floor is a cinema. The 6th floor has lots of food options such as Japanese pasta (Kamakura Pasta), Chibo Okonomiyaki, tonkatsu, two sushi options, Indian curry, and even a Starbucks overlooking Kanazawa station.
Address: 3-1 Horikawashin-machi
12:53 Had lunch at Kanazawa mi-to, on the 6th floor of Forus. The line up wasn’t tooo long (less than an hour?). The meat and sauce was good, and mine had a fair amount of avocados (personal fav) and veggies which was nice! It also comes with some Japanese pickles, miso soup and rice, tho I hardly ate any of the rice. 1380 yen. K ordered one with tempura and sausage as side dish, which also had some veggies and the usual sides for 1580 yen. Both were great, although not as gastronomically surprising.
13:35 Shopped around a bit more after lunch. Bought some Christmas trinkets at Claire’s, a red and white scrunchie which bells(!!) for 500 yen, and clip on antlers (forgot how much) that was on sale.
13:47 You know how much i like hair accessories (it’s about the only accessories that can be used at our field of work), and this “Anti shock hair bracelet” caught my eye. It’s a hair tie, a wristlet and can get rid of static electricity, all in one pretty trinket! Um, but I didn’t have time to buy it 😫.
14:10 – 15:16 Took a little rush to get on the bus on time, as we had to make a side stop, but we made it. Comfortably on board with our luggage stowed underneath, and because we ended up without time to buy a bento box or rice ball, we just dozed off and napped awhile. Only awhile, 14:22~14:52, because when i was jolted awake, the scene outside was just amazingly beautiful, that the trip was almost worth it just there!
15:23 Upon to arriving to Shirakawago bus stop, we also booked tickets one way from Shirakawago to Takayama, 2470 yen. When the lockers are all occupied, they can store your luggage at the office for 500 yen, and they close around 17:00 so remember to pick up before then.
Shirakawago and Gokayama is a small traditional villages located in Gifu Prefecture and Toyama Prefecture. “Ogimachi” in Shirakawago region, and “Ainokura” and “Suganuma” in Gokayama region, situated along the Sho River in Gifu and Toyama Prefecture are perfect examples of how the unique architectural style evolved to adapt to natural environment and social and economic circumstances, particularly mulberry tree cultivation and silk worm rearing.
In December 9th, 1995, it was declared a UNESCO world heritage site, and are famous for it’s unique building style of gassho-zukuri farmhouses, many preserved with their original outbuildings, some more than 250 years old. Gassho-zukuri means 合掌 “constructed like hands in prayer” 🙏 as the farmhouses’ steep thatched roof resemble hands of Buddhist monks pressed in prayer. This architectural style was developed over many generations and is designed to withstand the large amounts of heavy snow that falls in the mountainous region during winter. The roofs, made without nails, provided a large attic space used for cultivating silk worms.
Although it can easily be done as a day trip, the best way to experience the town is to stay the night at one of these farmhouses, some of which have been converted to minshuku.
The mascot of this region is this Sarubobo doll, which means “happy monkey baby”, a red faced monkey. Long time ago, grandmothers and mothers made sarubobo for their youngsters hoping for happiness and good health for their beloved. If you have this doll, you’ll be happy too! These dolls are faceless so the face of whomever you are thinking of can be attached on.
15:32 Wade House 和田家 – cultural assets Wada’s House
Admission fees: 300 yen (adults), 150 yen (children)
15:33 The first shop we walked in was a souvenir shop. Here I found a couple of Hello Kittys’ in Gassho-style house, 540 yen. Too cute, just had to add them to my collection. There’s also a version with snow on the rooftop which was really cute too, but then the “Shirakawago” was hidden, and the “snow” looked a bit odd after awhile. Also found these Hida beef Jugabees, 250 yen. K also bought some local sake. Total 2340 yen.
15:45 Just because we missed the snow yesterday, doesn’t mean it’s not cold. In fact, without any gloves (honestly didn’t think it would get that cold yet) my fingers felt quite frozen. So when we passed by this shop, we got a Hida beef bun 450 yen, and sweet sake (rice koji use ginger) for 250 yen, this sake almost had no alcoholic taste and with the ginger (yea, i don’t normally like it, but) it sure warmed us right up! The Hida beef bun was great also!
16:04 At this crossroad, we had the option of backtracking to the Shiroyama viewpoint or turning right to the Deai bridge.
16:08 Deai Bridge, the main entrance to Shirakawago, is a suspension bridge over the Sho River. brings visitors to the thatched
16:32 Shirakawa Hachiman-jinja Shrine 白川八幡神社.
559 Ogimachi, Shirakawa, Ono District, Gifu Prefecture
Hachiman Shrine was founded in 708-715 before the Nara period. Sake brewing was long associated with this shrine as it has the freshest of fresh water from the melting snow. Every year from September to October, Doburoku Matsuri is held to pray for abundant crops, safety and peace within the village. Doburoku is a type of sweet sake made with rice, koji, and water. It’s thought the shrine had relocated 800 years ago following an avalanche.
16:39 Started heading backwards, definitely don’t wanna have to be forced to stay at Shirakawago for the night unplanned just because we couldn’t get our luggage back!!
16:50 Bought another Hida beef potato croque, 250 yen.
16:54 Zen. Went by the same shop on our way here, and couldn’t resist buying another Hida minced beed cutlet 260 yen and the Sweet sake 250 yen.
16:56 Even their drains have Gassho-styled depictions!
17:00 Shirakawago Bus Terminal. Got back at exactly 17:00, only to find they’re open till 17:30. Humph! On hindsight it makes perfect sense, because the last bus leaves at 17:30 and the station has to be open until then, right?!
At that moment, we heard an announcement for a special extra service bus leaving at 17:00, and anyone regardless of their ticket time could take it. Although we had sort of decided to take another last minute look around after retrieving our luggage, we figured it would be nice to start heading back earlier, as it was getting dark and all the stores were closed. So after stowing our luggage away, and settled in whatever seat we could find (it’s not reserved after all), i started missing the beed croquets and sake… Someday!
17:57 The bus arrived at Takayama station. Unlike Kanazawa station, this place looked forlorn and pitch black. Thankfully, (i’m pretty sure it was planned that way) the JR train station was right behind us, which i almost overlooked because it looked like any old building and was so dark i almost thought they were closed! Thankfully, it was very much open, and the waiting room was crowded with people. Most were heading onto Nagoya (and may have been an option for us had it not been so out of the way and not covered in our JR pass, hehe). Unfortunately asking at the station, the thoroughly dejected-like stationmaster told us the closest JR station covered in out pass was Inotani, cost us 970 yen, with the next train being 20:50 to Inotani, where then we had to switch trains to Toyama then Kanazawa, and that getting back to Osaka was mostly out of the question. Oh well, at least it was a great day.
18:55 With some time to spare, and a plan in hand, we decided to get some dinner out in this deserted place (it just seemed that way because i almost felt lost).
日本海庄や (Takayama ekimae ya).
Upon entering the restaurant, a big poster of Hida beef greeted us, along with a wonderful warm smell.
Hida beef took the top prize at the 8th National Competitive Exhibition of Japanese Beef, also known as the “Olympice of Japanese beef” where high-grade cattle from around the country compete once every 5 years.
Hence, it was decided, we shall eat Hida beef Shabu-shabu ¥2000, and Seafood shabu-shabu ¥1450. Also ordered a side of chicken cartilage skewer and rice with Japanese pickles.
We were seated on a small room with three tables, the one next to us was occupied by two Japanese ladies. They had eyed our table couple times before “すみません” and walking over to borrow toothpicks. In a sudden bought of bravery, K answered “だいじょうぶ”, which eased the tension and the ladies asked us where we’re from, surprised with our answer, explained that they thought we were Japanese because I “had a Japanese face”… thank you lady, you made my day!!!! ☺️☺️😋
20:45 Bought a ホット(hot) レモネー(lemon) drink, ¥140 at a vending machine.
20:50 – 22:00 JR Takayama line from Takayama station to Inotani station, ¥970. Now I understand why the stationmaster at Takayama insisted we take the 20:50 train instead of the earlier, 19:50 train! Inotani station was a forlorn cold little station, and despite the train allowing us to board early, the train itself had no heating. This way, we only had to shiver for 10 minutes on the train, instead of 1hr and 10minutes out on the station. Brrrr~
22:10 – 23:03 JR Takayama line from Inotani station to Toyama station.
Here’s a stamp at their information centre! With paper provided, how sweet!! Because we had a little bit of time before the next train, we left the station looking for a convenience store, which we couldn’t find despite going all the way to Dentetsu Toyama station 電鉄富山駅.
23:33 – 23:56 Shinkansen Tsurugi 735 from Toyama station (track 14) to Kanazawa station.
00:00 Once again back in Kanazawa, and our new hotel booked on the way, we exit via Kenrokuen gate and visit the convenience store, again. So convenient, these things!
DailyPlus didn’t have anything that we wanted although the Shabu-Shabu place above them was very open and seemed quite busy.
And at SunRUs,
Grand jagabee グラン じゃがビー ¥162 x2.
Pringles kaarage flavour からあげ
Fried chicken ¥188.
00:26 Hotel Route-Inn Kanazawa ekimae ホテルルートイン金沢駅前.
Address: 〒920-0856 石川県金沢市昭和町22番5号
The rooms although just as squishy upon entering (compared with APA hotel), had slightly more room at the back, about a meter after the foot of the bed, and made movement around and opening suitcases that much easier. Which was exactly what we did, trying to repackage all our purchases of the day into carry on suitcase and a foldable bag. As for the rest of the room, everything was very similar although maybe slightly (very slightly) older? Oh, and their sleep wear provided looked like scrubs more than yukatas, in fact, they were a rather light blue medical doctor type scrubs at that. They also had a public bath which was closed by the time we arrived.