Takayama – sake, soba noodles and history

The historical old quarter contrasted dramatically with our very modern hotel in Takayama. For almost three centuries, the region around it was under shogunate control as a source of timber. Agriculturally poor, but rich in timber, it produced skilled carpenters who when it was unable to pay its taxes with rice, sent craftsmen instead. It sits on the Miya river, but before our stroll reached there, we called in at the Takayama Jinya, a national historic site used as government buildings during the Edo Bakufu government from 1692 to 1868.

Hida is referred to especially in regard to food. Hida beef, Hida ramen noodles and soba. It is an area in the north of Gifu prefecture good for black cattle and good quality buckwheat flour to make soba noodles. Sake brewing started in Takayama thanks to high quality rice and clear water. So we had to sample some! We picked the Kawashari brewery and tried three sakes.

http://www.hidamasamune.com/E-about.us.html

I loved the Yamahida sake – Junmai koshu described as freshly firm and dry. Popular with Europeans and women! Delicious and very drinkable is all I would say.

Our meander round the rest of Takayama took us to lunch at a lovely soba noodle restaurant, photo opportunities with the Sarubobo doll, a traditional Hida doll made of red material. Sarubobo means monkey. It is a local charm for easy child birth or safety from devils!

As we wandered through the town looking at temples, graveyards, museums and shops, we started to realise that tourism and locals manage to live very harmoniousily here. Though wealthy tourists must be appreciated when pieces of exquisite cloth or displayed retailing at 392,000 Japanese yen or almost £2700.

Having experienced personal table service in Tokyo, we decided it was time to try Okonomiyaki, a sort of giant omelette/frittata cooked at your table. Delicious but very filling!

Overall verdict on Takayama – a great spot for a one night stay.

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