Steep Steps to a National Treasure
Trip Start Jun 02, 2013
14Trip End Jun 24, 2013
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Where I stayed
Hida Crown Plaza, Takayama
You can climb to the top, but our tour guide mentioned that we would have to remove our shoes to make the climb, and that it was steep and slippery. Some of us were wondering why it would be slippery, since the steps are inside and would not be wet. But imagine climbing highly polished centuries old wood steps in your stocking feet and you'll get the picture. And besides trying to hold the rail tightly you are now carrying your shoes in a plastic bag provided. Quite a challenge, and sometimes people were coming down the steep ladder-like steps while you were going up. One of the upper levels held a weapons museum, and since this castle was built as warfare transitioned to the use of gunpowder, there were all different types of old guns. Again, this is a situation where we would have spent a lot more time if we weren't with a tour group. Moving on, we made a short stop at the Matsumoto Folkcraft Museum (nothing to write home about) and then ate lunch at a Wasabi farm. I wasn't really looking forward to this, since I am not a fan of wasabi, but I didn't realize that they use different parts of the plant, and some aren't spicy at all. It was a pretty tasty meal, and as always in Japan, beautifully presented. One of our tour friends, Gordon, decided to brave the wasabi beer, which was green looking but apparently didn't taste all that different from regular beer. When we wandered outside to tour the fields we tried a wasabi ice cream cone, and it was pretty good! The wasabi is grown in rows of sort of raised gravel beds, with water running in small channels of water running beside it. The water was drawn from a river next to the beds, and the plants are protected from the sun by sort of sunshades. Must be a labor intensive process!
To reach our hotel in Takayama, we drove through the Japanese Alps, which gives you a good picture of why 2/3 of Japan is too mountainous to be inhabitable!