Tag Archives: Visiting

Snapshots of Kanayama: A Walk through Old Town

2017-06-24 10.54.35The Kinkotsu-Meguri walking map of Kanayama Town is featured above. It was created by Shiho Tokuda who also made the poster which you have seen earlier (also below, left). This summer, I walked through Old Town Kanayama, following in part the meguri map. The photo on the right is a close-up of the old post road showing the location of the well.

 

 

I started on the old post road and saw alleyways like that in the poster above. There were folks going down some narrow steps so I followed them. They were on the meguri tour and were being shown the well. They were drinking the clear water from a ladle and exclaiming how good it tastes. There is a shrine honoring the Mizu-no-Kami, the Kami of Water. Looking closely, we see that the sacred objects are ancient stones, a remnant of Jomon times.

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I left them to look for the shop with the rice mill run by Asai-san, on the next block. It is on the way to Okuhida Sake Brewery which I have reported on before. Here are some photos where Asai-san is showing me how he takes a bag of unmilled rice and runs the rice through the milling process. He (and other gourmands) recommend that rice be cooked within a week of milling, for best flavor.

After this stop, I passed by the Okuhida Brewery as I walked over to the Mazegawa (Maze River) which is running south from the Iwaya Valley. See the bridge below.  Here are a few more snaps of the town.

And some of the summer flowers in bloom such as the purple hydrangea and the four-petaled white dokudami. The dokudami makes a wonderful and healthful herb tea. In the middle are flowering soba plants which will later produce seeds from which soba-ko is made for delicious soba noodles.

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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.

2017-06-27 11.58.04 eki sign

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.

DSC04051 Welcome S

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Snapshots of Kanayama: Nukumorinosato

Visiting Kanayama Series

DSC03862 Sign

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.

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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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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)

DSC03975 Keimei Taki sign

 

 

 

 

 

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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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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What to do and where to stay when visiting Hida Kanayama

  • What is there to do in the area?

Besides enjoying the local food? And shopping? There are many activities you can enjoy in the Kanayama area. Most of them are outdoors such as the Kanayama Megaliths, walking to four lovely waterfalls, and camping and fishing. You can also visit the Iwaya Dam.

There is also a unique activity called Kinkotsu-meguri, or walking the backstreets of Old Town. These scheduled tours are offered by volunteer tour guides who will show you the old post road to Edo (now Tokyo).

You can see how sake is made right in Kanayama town, with water from the clear Maze River. The brewery makes the famous Okuhida sake — and a fine vodka as well.

When in the gift shops, besides shopping for gifts, be sure to look for the frozen cases where Hida ice cream is sold. The rich taste comes from the happy cows of Hida.   

Three posters are shown at the top for  the Kanayama Megaliths, the Four Waterfalls, and the Kinkotsu-meguri. They are from the Kanayama Tourist Association.

  • What facilities and accommodations are available?

Onsen hot springs 温泉

1.     Yuttarikan 湯ったり館 –  日帰り天然温泉 Day trip natural onsen hot spring

Kanayama, Kanayama Town, 973-2, Gero City, Gifu Prefecture (along national highway No. 256) 岐阜県下呂市金山町金山 973-2(国道256号線沿い)TEL 0576-33-2492.  http://www.yuttarikan.jp/.  Open-air bath, sauna. Private room bedrock bath and aroma treatment. Restaurant. Local souvenirs.

2.     Karen Onsen かれん (see below)

Where to Stay in Kanayama:

1.     Hotel: Karen かれん

Onsen hot spring inn at Nukumorinosato michinoeki roadside station. From all the rooms you can view the clear stream of the Maze river. Restaurant serving local cuisine and sake. Onsen. Gift shop. Kanayama, 911-1, Gero City, Gifu Prefecture (along national highway No. 256). TEL 0576-32-4855.  http://nukumorinosato.com.

2.     Hotel: Fukuzumi  福寿美

Hotel located a 7 minute walk from the JR Hida-Kanayama Station in Gifu. Japanese style rooms with wifi. Fukuzumi prides itself on its local cuisine of wild vegetables and river fish. 2132-1 Kanayama, Gero City, Gifu-ken, Japan 509-1622. TEL 0576-32-2015.  http://www.k-fukuzumi.com/en/.  A lot of tourist information in English. 

3.  Minshuku: Nakanoya なかのや

Gero City, Kanayama, Yuhara 386-17. (Iwaya dam lake side). TEL 0576-35-2448

4.  Minshuku: Shichifukuzan 七福山

Gero City, Kanayama, Soshino 1190-5. (National Route 256 along Wara River). TEL 0576-35-2731

5.  Ryokan: Mitsukiya  見附屋旅館

Gero City, Shinjayama 222-11 (National Route 256 along the Maze river). TEL 0576-35-2013

6.  Ryokan: Shimizuya  清水屋旅館

Gero City, Kanayama, Kanayama 2219-3  (along the former Hida highway).

Tel 0576-32-2324

The accommodation information is from the Kanayama Tourist Association.

 

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