Tag Archives: takayama

Travel tidbit: The spirits of Takayama, Japan

Takayama was an add-on to my tourist’s route in Japan, just because I found the name somewhere amidst the colossal research. It turned out to be a pleasing, serendipitous experience that only a small town can bring.

My first impression off the train: a lot of Western backpackers here. It could be either a good or bad sign, depending on your purpose. At least this meant there wouldn’t be vast crowds of tourists.

And that was an understatement. After checking in my ryokan and enjoying their indoor onsen, I walked out to the door. The town, all of a sudden, fell deep in a decorous layer of silence. For half an hour, I roamed over the streets with my own shadow. I didn’t know what awaited me behind the darkness, but as far as the street lights touched, humanity seemed like it was relinquished by an apocalypse.

And then there were the autumn wind and small shrines to remind me that, no matter how much the sun would come out and the human will be back tomorrow, this landscape belonged to the night, and the night belonged to a rarefied world out of this one.

The rest was left to my own fantasy as I kept walking, pretending not to know about the spirits and statues discreetly going on about their life. I had my tranquility. It was their turn.

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Travel tidbit: Hida Beef of Takayama, Japan.

Hida Beef on Houba MisoHida beef is a treasure of the Gifu prefecture, beside onsen and the Japanese Alps. It is widely regarded to have comparable quality to Kobe or Matsusaka beef. This beef is grilled over magnolia leaf on top of a burning charcoal stove, topped with soybean paste. The texture fits one of those “melt in my mouth” food description clichés, because it is so tender and delicate you are afraid to take the next bite. The taste is an amalgam of the earthy flavor from the leaf, the minimal and slightly fermented miso and of course, the joyful fattiness that just imparted your umami.

I had this dish in a small family restaurant named Kotaro, a capacity of 4 tables at most. I was tasting the delight while the other couple talked about how they was recently ripped off in Vietnam. Even that harsh truth of reality couldn’t bitter down the juice.

Maruaki is a popular Yakiniku restaurant with a selection of beef at a variety of grade levels (up to A12).  Look at the beautiful, sleek marbled patterns!

Don’t they sparkle like the first ray of sunshine after a long winter?

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