Snapshots of Kanayama: Foods

2017-06-22 18.58.35 HobaMiso

Hida Kanayama is a food lover’s paradise. Not only are there fresh seasonal produce deliciously served, there are local specialties as well. Let us show you some of them.

First we introduce you to hoba miso with Hida gyu (Hida beef). Hida gyu is wonderfully marbled and sooo tender! Above we see Hida gyu on a grill plate heated by a sterno burner (which conveniently goes out when the food is about done). It is served with green onions, piman peppers, and mushrooms, with the2017-06-22 19.04.04 Hoba gyu sushifamous hoba miso of Hida. Here is one of the Hida gyu nigiri sushi as served in the restaurant of Karen.Having one of these sushi is heavenly! They come two on a plate, doubly heavenly.

Of course, we must have hoba sushi, a specialty of the area. Here is what it looks like. It is wrapped in a fresh green hoba leaf that grows abundantly in Kanayama. It is delicious the first day, and possibly even better the second day. In case you are wondering, a hoba leaf is a type of very large camellia leaf.

2017-06-28 13.32.42 hoba sushi

Restaurant Hizan レストランひざん offers many popular meals. Look at the lunch you can have for only 1000 yen! And on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, Hizan serves the Japanese breakfast called morning service including egg, toast, and more for the price of a cup of coffee!

DSC04054 Hizan lunch menu

DSC04055 Hizan morning service

 

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Snapshots of Kanayama: Hidakanayama Eki

DSC04044 Hidakanayama Eki

Hidakanayama Eki is the train station for Hida Kanayama. Hidakanayama Eki opened in 1928 and has hardly changed since that time. Let us show you snaps taken of and in the train station.

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At top is the front of the station. Below, you see the train tracks (two of them, running north and south), the passenger bridge to cross the tracks (there are no escalators), and the platform for the northbound train.

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Now, let’s take a look in the waiting room. Here we find photo posters of Kanayama attractions created by Shiho Tokuda.

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Inside Hidakanayama Eki you will find the invaluable resource, the Kanayama Tourist Information Center.

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After leaving the station, turn around and you will see the welcome sign of Kanayama Town. The three photos in the center feature the Shirataki Falls, the Gifu-cho butterfly, and the Iwaya Dam. These pleasures await you in Kanayama.

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Snapshots of Kanayama: Nukumorinosato

Visiting Kanayama Series

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We will show you snapshots of Kanayama Town in the Visiting Kanayama Series. We will give links to Google maps showing the locations of the places you’ll visit. Nukumorinosato is located on Route 41. This long name can be broken down into Nuku-mori-no-sato. We wonder what it means. See Pic 1.

DSC03860 Nukumorinosato

Nukumorinosato is a Michi-no-eki, a roadside station with restaurants and gift shops. The sign says, “onsen station” because it has two onsen spas. Onsen is written  温泉, where the first character means warm and the second means spring water. There are many public baths in Japan, but only those with natural mineral water are called onsen. Not only do onsen baths do wonders for tight muscles and stressed minds, they offer health and beauty benefits as well.

Pic 2 shows the Nukumorinosato roadside shop, where on the left is the shop selling local produce and other products. Pics 3 and 4 are snaps of the outside and inside of the shop. 

DSC03863 Karen

Nukumorinosato is anchored by the onsen-restaurant-hotel called Karen. It is written:  かれん. Perhaps it’s a Japanese girl’s name, for  is pronounced in the Japanese fashion Ka-ren. It has a restaurant on the right, a gift shop on the left, indoor-outdoor spa for men and women in the basement, and nine Japanese and Western rooms on the second floor all of which overlook the Maze River.

Across the street is the other onsen, Yuttarikan.  Yuttarikan  湯ったり館  means place of relaxation, and the large character in front is the hiragana yu,  ゆ.  Yu means hot water, hot bath water.  Yuttarikan has a nice gift shop, and a restaurant with traditional meals for lunch and dinner.

2017-06-23 09.29.46 Yuttarikan

Shopping finds

The gift shop of Karen displays many foodstuffs for home and for gifts. Very popular are gifts of miso, pickles, and of course sweets. There are four choices of boxed sweets with the Kimi no Na Wa theme, including (on the right) a box of Kataware-doki Caramels.

2017-06-23 08.18.23 kiminonawa cookies

2017-06-24 09.10.13 Katawaredoki caramels

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You can buy the locally made herb tea at the Nukumorinosato roadside shop or at Yuttarikan. Our favorite is a blend that contains lemon balm, lemon grass, mint, and chamomile (Yuttarikan). Among other specialty products is a bottle of hinoki essential oil which releases stress, and hinoki tissue boxes (both at the roadside shop). The Japanese cypress hinoki (Chamaecyparis obtusa) grows in Hida and is a high quality wood. There is a brand of Hida-bobo hand cream that contains collagen and smells nice (Karen). And each of you must have a Hida-bobo, the lucky charm of Hida, a hand-made red monkey boy (Karen, Yuttarikan).

Medical needs

Just in case you need a hospital (as we did), rest assured that the Kanayama Hospital is conveniently located next to Yuttarikan. The service is excellent, even if you have no Japanese insurance. The intake nurse communicated with us via a smart phone which translated her words into English text. Payment (reasonable enough) is by cash only. We had the doctor’s prescription filled at the adjacent Asahi Pharmacy bearing the icon of a green cross.

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All in all, Nukumorinosato is a convenient place to shop, eat, and stay — and have your medical needs met.

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The Four Waterfalls

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There are four lovely waterfalls near Kanayama town that can be hiked in about an hour and a half for the round-trip. The trail begins at the Hakusan Jinja and it follows the rushing stream, of course heading into the valley. There is a parking area just before the first waterfall, so we left the car here while we hiked the rest of the way. It is a distance of 1.3km on the trail from the first waterfall to the fourth, but it is longer than that since we have to descend on stairs or a sloping trail down to the pool at the bottom of each fall, and then up again.

DSC03932 Shirotaki

The four waterfalls of Kanayama are mentioned in a legend about a princess and a golden rooster. This story is excerpted from the post at Okunomichi.

The Princess and the Golden Rooster: A Legend

Once upon a time:  A golden rooster lived in Kyoto during the Heian period. It crowed every New Year’s Day during the four centuries of peace. Then, in the year 1093, war broke out and the golden rooster flew away.

The Princess Kogane-Hime, a devout Buddhist who missed the rooster, faced Hiei-zan. She heard a message:  Go to a mountain of waterfalls. So she traveled far and long and finally reached Hida-Kanayama at the end of the year.

She could hear the voice of the rooster, but search as she did, she could not see it. She went from one waterfall to another: The Shirataki and the Ni-no-taki, and finally a third waterfall. She stood under the water to purify herself. Suddenly, she heard the golden rooster.

The falls she stood under became known as Keimei-taki of Yokotani Gorge.

Although the rooster refused to return to Kyoto, Kogane-Hime gathered some herbs for her ailing mother and went back to Kyoto in time to save her mother. The princess became known for her compassion and was regarded as the goddess of children.

The Four Waterfalls

First Waterfall:  白滝  Shirataki (White Falls)

DSC03934 Shirotaki (portrait)

DSC03936 waters of Shirotaki

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DSC03950 top of Shirotaki

The top of the first waterfall as seen on the hike to the second.

 

Second Waterfall:  二見滝  Futami Taki (Double Falls)

 

Third Waterfall:  紅葉滝  Momiji Taki (Maple Falls)

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DSC03969 Third Taki (landscape)

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300m to the fourth waterfall.

 

Fourth Waterfall:  鶏鳴滝  Keimei Taki (Rooster Falls)

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DSC03978 Keimei Taki (portrait)DSC03987 Keimei Taki (landscape)

A Hidden World

Each waterfall is contained in a little valley of its own. The curtain of rushing white water, the pool at the bottom, the rivulets, and the green trees and grasses — all form a private sanctuary far away from daily life. We can really relax, meditate, and appreciate being one with Nature. We return to our regular lives feeling happy and refreshed.

DSC03977 Keimei (portrait)

 

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Summer Solstice.  June 21, 2017

DSC03812 Summer solstice mornng

Summer solstice day, June 21, 2017, was drizzly all day. There was no hope of seeing a spotlight. However, we went to the megaliths anyway. And we were glad we did.

The megaliths were dark and glistening with rain. They were absolutely magnificent!

Looking down into the upper grotto, the signboard is seen but it is quite dark inside.

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So let’s run in the drizzle instead!

Children amongst the boulders, little ones and the giants.

We found a carpet of wet leaves — and an astonishing type of plant!

DSC03827 wet leaves

DSC03826 unusual plants

 

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Kimi no Na Wa (the Movie Your Name) and the Land of Hida

Posters of Hida Kanayama by Shiho Tokuda

The Movie Kimi no Na wa (君の名は)

Did you know that the block-buster move, Your Name, takes place in Hida as well as in Tokyo? Not only is it a terrific movie, it is highly relevant to followers of this Iwakage blogsite about Kanayama Megaliths and Hida Kanayama.

Hida Furukawa is the real-life name of the movie town of Itomori where Mitsuha lives with her sister and grandmother. Through life in Itomori, we learn about traditional culture, shrine rituals and festivals. We eventually come to realize the deeper meaning of the movie. We discussed some this on the Okunomichi blogsite. 

https://okunomichi.wordpress.com/2017/06/08/kimi-no-na-wa-and-musubi/

https://okunomichi.wordpress.com/2017/06/08/twilight/

There are many hits when you search on keywords from the movie. You can easily find the places in Tokyo where the scenes in the movie take place. With a little more effort, you’ll learn the places in Hida that are depicted. People are talking about pilgrimages to these places in Hida.

May I suggest a mini-pilgrimage to the Kanayama Megaliths?

Now, let’s point out some scenes from the movie that are relevant when visiting Hida and Kanayama.

Hida Kanayama Train Station

If you take the Hida Wide-View express train to Hida Kanayama station, you already know how quaint the station is. There is the station-master’s room (and sometimes he’s not even there when you arrive). There are only two tracks, one going north and the other south. There is a covered overpass with stairs at each end (no elevator) to cross over the tracks. The train station in the movie is modeled after the Furukawa station. It looks almost exactly like the Hida Kanayama station!

Posters of Kanayama

Inside the waiting room of the Hida Kanayama station, there are some very large posters showing the beautiful vistas of Kanayama and the Kanayama Megaliths. These are the creations of our very own Shiho Tokuda. You can see three of her posters at the top of the earlier post.  And here they are again. There is a scene in the movie where Taki’s friends are in the lobby discussing the trip to Itomori. In the background behind Miki Okudera and Tsukasa can be seen the bottom halves of posters. The posters resemble, but are not the same as Kanayama Megaliths, the waterfalls, and the kinkotsu walking tour of Kanayama.   

The Megalith

The goshintai of Grandmother’s shrine is the megalith in the center of the meteor crater. Mitsuha goes there with Grandmother and leaves the kuchikamizake there in the iwaya cavern of the megalith. Later, Taki enters the cavern and finds the sake. Not all megalithic structures in Japan have caverns, so this is unusual. Although the megalith in the movie does not physically resemble the Iwaya-Iwakage of the Kanayama Megaliths, I felt that they were still very similar to each other. If you have been inside the Iwaya-Iwakage, you may have the same feeling of sanctity and mystery.

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Photo of Myoken Shrine in the cavern of Iwaya-Iwakage

I can’t help but feel that Makoto Shinkai, before making the movie, went to Kanayama and visited the Kanayama Megaliths. He has a deep sense of the nature of the land of Hida. Why don’t you come and discover Hida Kanayama for yourself?

 

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