After the disappointments of Tokyo and Kyoto, we were excited to embark on the portion of the trip that was most within our wheelhouse. If only we could get there…
Unlike some of the other buses in the region, the Nohi bus route between Kanazawa and Takayama must be reserved in advance. We waited until the night before departure to book our tickets, as we were watching the weather to decide if we would stop on the way in Shirakawa-go. (Unfortunately, due to lots of wet weather from a typhoon, we opted to skip this excursion.) When booking tickets online, you are asked to enter the number of male and female passengers, which we did. Our reservation request was then denied with an error message that said something to the effect of not being able to book seats near a member of the opposite sex. We then attempted to rebook two male tickets and were confirmed. It was very strange, and while I don’t really understand what happened, we had no trouble boarding the next day.
When we reached Takayama, we proceeded to our ryokan, Futarishizuka Hakuun. It is an older, dated property but clean and comfortable. It’s situated on a hilltop overlooking the town, and we had a lovely view from our room. Each room also has ensuite bath facilities with a cedar bath. It rained heavily all afternoon, and while we were not permitted to check-in early, relaxing in the warm bath during the storm was a nice perk when we returned to the property in the afternoon.
Given the weather, we spent most of the day inside, moving from a cozy café where we had tea and cakes; to a local curry spot where we had our best curry of the trip; and later to a sake brewery where we sampled one too many varieties. When the rain died down, we ventured out to Hidagyu Maruaki for yakiniku. It was here we first enjoyed hida beef on the self-cook grills. We were lucky to be seated, as the hostess stand closed soon after our arrival and the restaurant stopped accepting patrons even though it was still open.
The next morning, we had a couple of hours to wander thru town before our departure. My initial impression the previous day was not that positive. While I had been hoping the old town would have an authentic, traditional feel, it oozed more of an amusement park vibe. As I was able to more fully take in the streets and surroundings, I enjoyed it more and my opinion significantly improved. While many of the beautiful old buildings are filled with tchotchke shops, there are also some nice cafes, restaurants and galleries.