April 6, 2018

Japan – Day Three – Traveling in Hida

Me and two friends are spending the next 8 days in Japan. Follow along as I post each day, starting here with the first. Day three was spent traveling in Hida, southwest of Tokyo near the Japanese Alps.

We knew there would be a day or two spent roaming in the rain, and today was that day. The town we arrived at last night, Hida, is a much higher elevation than Tokyo. Much colder, less traveled. The airbnb we stayed at was a traditional Japanese home, paper walls, sleeping mats and all.

Traveling in the countryside has always been my preference. Tourists are rare in parts like these. The town hums along in it’s day-to-day unimpeded by the needs of travelers. My concern for the future of travel is that the world, already so connected, will grow even more closer together culturally, culinarily, and even linguistically. That in order to find the truest representation of a culture, the farther one must range out from cities to find the places English and Starbucks fail to reach.

Today was one of those days. We left the airbnb and walked a few miles to the train station. A small platform with one tiny room crammed with chairs. Nothing like the airport-scale train stations of Tokyo. We caught a small commuter train to a larger station 30 minutes away, transferred to a bus, and headed up into the alps. (This is the point I realized there are many “alps” beyond the most familiar Swiss variety.) Our destination was the village of Shirakawa.

This little village is tucked into a quaint mountain valley; it’s houses, little vessels of a time before modernity. Thatch roofs and plank siding were all that stood between the warmth inside and the snow outside.

After roaming around the village, socks soaking wet and shoes weighed down with mud, we ended the night back in Hida in a little whiskey bar Thomas found. We read and warmed up while the rain continued it’s rhythmic beat on the tourist-free streets outside.

Tomorrow. Kyoto.