JAPAN! The journey continues into the Kiso Valley. Takayama, Matsumoto, Magome and Tsumago

The previous post can be found here:  Our first Shinkansen! Kanazawa and Shirakawago – a relief from the city and into the ALPS!


Breakfast at the  Wadaya Inn in Shirakwago was just as good as dinner. We’re spoiled.

Again we donned back packs and walked to the bus station to catch our bus to Takayama where we walked to the Yamakyu ryokan. It was way too early to check in so we left our bags and the woman kindly gave us a map, some other literature and ideas on where to walk. What a gorgeous town! There are signs for “Takayama walks” to guide you along. We got lost anyway as we’re always getting distracted. The cemetery is beautiful and warrants time to explore. We ended up in Shiroyama park which is an amazing treat. There are gorgeous trails everywhere and signs to watch for bears as well as empty drums with a stick attached to make a loud noise to announce your presence.

We happened upon an Italian couple sitting on a bench and a Japanese man was whistling for birds. The small chickadee like birds (I think they were tits) were eating out of his hand!! I took pictures for a bit and then they offered to let us try. What fun!

They left and we carried on. On one interesting trail I managed to slip and fall. Thankfully I landed on my cushiest part and was fine 😉

More wanderings later we ended up back at the Ryokan where we checked in, donned our yukata and prepared for dinner.

DINNER. WOW! It was so beautifully prepared and there was a little of everything. Hida beef is everything they said it is. It melts in your mouth it’s so tender and delicious. We tried to eat everything and left only a couple of little potatoes and again I didn’t touch the rice. NO ROOM!

After that amazing meal we tried our first onsen. That wasn’t as weird as I thought it would be. You get naked and go into the bath where you sit down to shower and get yourself VERY clean. It’s important as there are no chemicals in the water. It’s steaming hot and so relaxing. There was one outside too. Creams and lotions are provided for afterwards.

Back in our rooms we found the beds all ready for us. I could get used to this 😀

Breakfast at Yamakyu Ryokan was a delight. Well. Other that the sitting on the floor thing. This old body just can’t seem to get used to that.

Today was spent wandering Takayama and I think we managed to see pretty much everything. First we headed for the Jinya market and bought some apples for 1/3 of the price they are elsewhere. Then we browsed the Miyagawa morning market where we bought some sarubobo (baby monkey) dolls since they’re an oddity only available in Takayama. A brief walk along the river was enjoyable as it’s beautiful and there are ducks, carp, koi and I even managed to capture a photo of a hawk or an eagle. I still have to figure out what it was.

We covered the Kitiyama walking course with a side trip to the park which boats beautiful views of some of the snow capped mountains in the Alps.

At one of the biggest shrines we happened upon a wedding which was interesting as there was a woman also watching who could explain all that was going on. Very different from our weddings and fascinating. The bride wore an elaborate white silk kimono complete with a head dress the woman said hid her “horns” which she would use if she caught her husband cheating. Fun stuff

Walking about town we explored a neighbourhood of homes over 150 years old. There we followed an English tour for a bit until we got bored and went our own way.

Since it was too early to be done for the day we decided to walk to McDonald’s for an ice cream. That ended up being on the other side of town near the bowling alley. Oh well. The longer walk helped us burn off the ice cream.

After another amazing dinner we again headed for the onsen. We’ve never been so clean!

That’s a BIG tree!

The bride! We watched the wedding through the temple windows

There was a wedding happening and we watched through those windows

The temple is behind me. This is the gate

Old restored houses now are shops




Shiroyama Park


After enjoying our last breakfast at the Yamakyu, we cancelled the shuttle we’d booked and decided to walk to the bus station. We needed the exercise. As we checked out the kind woman gave us a picture of us in front of the ryokan.

The bus ride to Matsumoto was gorgeous! The narrow road winds through the alps and thankfully the driver was extremely careful He often honked his horn and flashed his lights through tunnels and around corners as the narrow lanes were often not really wide enough for two buses.

We dropped our bags at the Dormy hotel and found the Matsumoto castle. There was a booth offering free tours so we thought “why not?” A sweet lady whose name I can NOT remember took us all through the castle and gave us a great history lesson on the place. She’s a volunteer who shares her love of her home town with visitors. The castle is beautiful and well worth a couple hours of your time.

After stopping for a bite to eat, we checked into the hotel and then went to the JR station to reserve our seats for the next day’s train. Back at the hotel we changed into Pajamas provided by the hotel and headed to the 9th floor for the onsen. We’re getting used to being naked. Haha! This one had an indoor and outdoor hot pool, sauna and a cold pool. I went from the pool to the sauna to the cold pool over and over again. What a treat!

At 9:30 pm we’re usually in bed but the hotel offered free ramen between 9:30 and 11 and we rarely turn down free food so off we went. Yum!

Can I pull off the fierce Samurai look?

Intricate carvings finish corners of roof tops

The view from Matsumoto castle






November 19

Breakfast at the Dormy hotel was a really good buffet so we were well stuffed before we headed to the train station. We’d packed a small bag and had our packs forwarded to Kyoto so we were travelling very light.

The train was a couple minutes late so we figured we’d miss the bus in Nakatsugawa but it was right there waiting so we ran for it and made it. It was standing room only but better than waiting an hour for the next bus to Magmne.

There we started the walk through the cute little town, straight up hill then entered the forest. Barely a kilometre in I fell down hard on one knee. I sat there for a while assessing the damage as it really hurt. Sue right away handed me a couple of Advil to prevent swelling. I hobbled for a while but it was okay. Later I realised I scraped my hand all up too. Not very smart. 😦

The 10 km walk was beautiful. The path varied with lots of ups and downs and waterfalls to see a long the way.  There was even a place to stop and have a cup of tea served by an older man who said the villagers take turns doing it for the walkers.  Nice!   Lots of people we met had bear bells on so we figured we didn’t need to make noise. I’m thinking with all those bells, the bears are used to it and it won’t bother them anymore. We still didn’t get to see any.

Tsumago is another nice little tourist town and we wandered around there for a while before finding the meeting spot for our shuttle to the Fuki-no-mori. In that one we got jump seats.

This accommodation was the most expensive one on the whole trip and it IS beautiful. The room was huge. There’s a nice lounge and the view is really nice. BUT. The food was just okay and a lot of it was just too salty. The meals in Takayama were much better. The onsen was nice but not any better than the other ones. We told reception that the room was too hot and we couldn’t figure out how to turn off the heat. They sent a maintenance man who’s solution was to turn on the AC!! What? It’s cold outside! So we finally got him to shut everything off. I got up in the night to open the door a bit as it was so stuffy and dry. Neither of us got a great sleep. So. Paying a lot for a place to stay isn’t always the best choice.

Breakfast the next morning wasn’t wonderful either but it filled us up and we walked around the grounds for a while before catching the shuttle to Nagiso.

There we got the express train to Kisofukishima where we ran to catch the next one to Nagoya. There we found the JR station and took the Shinkansen to Kyoto. We even found the right exit and didn’t get lost.









7 thoughts on “JAPAN! The journey continues into the Kiso Valley. Takayama, Matsumoto, Magome and Tsumago

  1. Pingback: Kyoto, 1,000 Torii gates, bamboo forests and Okayama | Where in the world is Grandma?

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