Sunday, April 5, 2009


From Nagoya I took a few trains out to Leah's little town of Kaneyama. It was so quaint and cute compared to the neon lights of Sapporo!!!

Her area for some reason has a LOT of Brazilans... so we decided to hit up Leah's gym in the next town to sweat and see if we could sneak a peek at a few Brazilian body builders. hahah...

The next morning we took a trip up north to Takayama... It was about a 2 hour train ride through some spectacular scenery. It followed a beautiful river up through the Japanese Northern Alps.

In Takayama we went to the morning market which spread along the river...

We chatted to the sellers and ate sooooo much foooood!!!! Our favorite was a cute little guy who made these perfectly squared glazed marshmallows and grilled them on a hot plate. mmmm....

To balance out all the sugary goodness, we ate some grilled rice balls with a soy sauce glaze, glazed soy crispy rice cracker thingies with seaweed (this cute bumble bee girl ate them with us... it was bigger than her head), strawberry mochi, and soooo many omiyage sweets - every shop had TONS of samples out... and I couldnt help but pop in and try out ALL of the local sweets.

After a lot of snacking we then took a long walk around the outskirts of Takayama to see the many temples dotted around...

We finished our walk by hiking around Shiroyama Park which was a big hilly park which had the ruins of Takayama castle. It was so quiet and peaceful and had good views out across Takayama.

Back into town we made friends with sarubobo - the mascot of Takayama and a few other towns in Gifu Prefecture... I didn't find him as interesting as Marimo but he was still quite charming.

Sarubobo is a red human shaped doll and "sarubobo" literally means baby monkey.

According to Wikipedia sarubobo is associated iwth three wishes: 1. Protection from bad things 2. A happy home, a good match 3. Having an easy delivery on birth (because a monkey's birth is easy... hrmm... interesting...) And the face is supposedly red because baby monkey's faces are red.

You can also buy various colored sarubobos and they are each associated with different wishes;

  • Blue sarubobo - for luck in study and work
  • Pink sarubobo - for luck in love
  • Green sarubobo - for luck in health
  • Yellow sarubobo - for luck in money
  • Black sarubobo - to remove bad luck

At one of the temples we also saw what seemed to be Sarubobo being hanged and tortured. I guess he never hung out much with the black sarubobo. Hrmmm....

Takayama is probably most famous for its Takayama Festival and also the beautifully preserved old buildings in the town.

We also peeked in a few of the sake breweries... You can tell which shops are sake breweries because they hang a huge awesome cedar ball out front.

While wandering around the streets we also bumped into some of Leah's students who had just graduated from High School! They had taken a little graduation trip with a group of friends up to Takayama. They were sooo cute and excited to see Leah!!! :-)

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