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Memory by Wabisavi

This is where my itinerary went a little astray, but on a long trip such things are bound to happen. Being flexible and a bit spontaneous are also fun parts of the journey (if I keep telling myself that, maybe I'll eventually start believing it ๐Ÿ™ˆ). While my original plan saw me head out to Shirakawa, I was unable to secure a bus ticket, so I boarded the train bound for Takayama. It so happened that this train passed through ๐—ง๐—ฎ๐—ธ๐—ฎ๐—ผ๐—ธ๐—ฎ, which so happens to have a castle listed in the 100 famous Japanese castles. I wasn't expecting much (not after Yamagata), but oh well, it was 8am and I thought, why not. Takaoka was a total ghost town. Apart from a crew of adorable kindergarten students touring the castle and a couple of grandpas, I never met anyone along the way. ๐Ÿ๐Ÿฏ ๐—ง๐—ฎ๐—ธ๐—ฎ๐—ผ๐—ธ๐—ฎ ๐—–๐—ฎ๐˜€๐˜๐—น๐—ฒ was bigger than I thought, though of course, nothing remains except the moats and a forlorn well. Artwork dots the grounds within a forest of hundreds of maple trees (once the colors peak, the view must be stunning). I wouldn't expressly travel to Takaoka to see this, though. But I give it an extra star because the carps in the pond were the biggest I've ever seen and I couldn't stop looking at them. Falling into the pond = instant death. In one of the corners of the castle there is a little museum (free admission). No English, but apart from the history of the town they have an exhibit of everyday items from the olden days. Including a rotary phone. Which I imagine may be an oddity for kids these days, but made someone like me who used it well into her teen years feel incredibly old ๐Ÿคฃ. โ›ฉ๏ธ Takaoka is also home to one of ๐—๐—ฎ๐—ฝ๐—ฎ๐—ป'๐˜€ ๐˜๐—ต๐—ฟ๐—ฒ๐—ฒ ๐——๐—ฎ๐—ถ๐—ฏ๐˜‚๐˜๐˜€๐˜‚ (tr. giant Buddha statues). Honestly, after the humongous Kannon floating in the sky over Sendai, this hardly qualifies as "giant". Beneath the Buddha a circular room holds various religious images and writings. Walk into the alcove at the back to be startled by a giant Buddha head. You can pray by ringing bells corresponding to your Chinese zodiac animal. ๐—™๐˜‚๐—ป ๐—™๐—ฎ๐—ฐ๐˜. Takaoka's mascotte is ๐—ง๐—ผ๐˜€๐—ต๐—ถ๐—ป๐—ฎ๐—ด๐—ฎ-๐—ธ๐˜‚๐—ป, who wears the local traditional helmet - a humongous catfish inspired, over 1m long, 4kg heavy piece of equipment. Because apparently the knights of old faced off in displays of prowess by not succumbing to crippling neck pains. ๐—™๐˜‚๐—ป ๐—™๐—ฎ๐—ฐ๐˜. As a tourist in Japan, you can tell when you have finally achieved off-the-beaten-path status when you reach a station where the staff have clearly never seen a JR Pass before (as I learned the hard way in Takaoka).


Takaoka, Toyama, Japan

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