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Written by: Sjaak Mintjens
Date: 2013/07/18

A taste of old Takayama

The Hida Folk Village holds buildings of cultural heritage that were moved there to preserve and show how the folk villages in the region were a few hundred years ago. But before getting to the Hida Folk Village you will need to take a short bus ride and along the way you will see a weird ball on top of a building sticking out of some tree tops. When you get around the tree tops and get a clearer view you will see a big temple-like building, which is not of an actual Japanese religion but more in direction of a cult, from what I could gather on the internet, if you are interested in reading more about this use your trusty sidekick Google and look up “sukyo mahikari”. Weird things aside, when you get to the village you immediately come notice the beauty and peace (on a weekday) that the open air museum offers.

 

 

Hida Folk Village & Shirakawago

On the busride to Takayama I met two really great Americans and they said they would be going and staying in Shirakawago the next day and asked me if I thought it would be worth it going to Hida Folk Village as well. Shirakawago is the actual village where people still live in the same type of buildings that people used hundreds of years ago, unlike the open air museum which has been put there for educational and touristic purpose. At the time I did not think it would have that much added value and the Hida Folk Village would be more for people who wouldn’t or couldn’t go all the way to Shirakawago but still wanted a taste of these typical houses. When looking back, I would say that going to the open air museum would still be an extremely interesting experience. One reason is that you can enter any building freely and see many things up close. Also, the buildings feel as if they have air-conditioning turned on, but except for a few fans here and there, it was all natural coolness of the buildings. The houses also have a fragrance of burned charcoal which gives a very welcoming feeling.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Experience the past

When going to the Hida Folk Village I advise you to become a child and let go. Because when entering the village and go along the route there are several things you can do. First you will find a few spots where you can feed the kois swimming in the pond with some pieces of bread which you can buy, by simple putting them money in a little cylinder attached to it. Next you will find a lot of toys of Japan’s past. I tried myself the water pistol made of bamboo, with which you would have to shoot a target and make the target spin. I did not expect it to be easy but after a few tries, I got the hang of it, a little bit. And I also tried walking on stilts, at which I failed miserably several times and was unable to get the hang of it! But, it was fun trying! And then there were also several other toys. If you don’t know how to use a certain toy just ask a passing Japanese person to show you and they will be happy to do so as it will also be nostalgic for them. 

Other than these kinds of playful things that you can freely try out in the open, there are also experiences for those that want to try and create something. At the entrance of the folk village you can see what kind of workshops/events they have that day, so try not to go too late as you may miss your chance. The day I was there they had a workshop of making straw sandals and embroider. Due to a lack of time as I also wanted to see the rest of Takayama, I was unable to participate in these classes, but I sure would have wanted to make me some straw sandals.

 

Worth a visit

If you are staying in Takayama, and do not have the time to go to Shiragawago it sure will be a good time spent to go to the folk village. I had only a total of five hours in Takayama and I spent about a bit more than an hour in the folk village, which could have easily been stretched to a two hours if entering every building and even more when participating in a workshop. And staying two hours in the soothing temperatures, when comparing to Takayama city, is surely no punishment. And if instead of going to Shiragawago you will have more time to spend in Kamikochi, but that is a weigh-off that I can not make.

Access

Access to the Hida Folk Village is really straight forward. The website of Takayama has a lot of useful information, and is honestly, as also mentioned in the Takayama article, the best touristic website I have ever seen for a city. Mostly due to the fact that all the tourism related pamphlets can be found on the website with any detail you might want to know. As for the bus ride you have difference tickets. The most advisable is the set ticket for the bus and the village, which will cost 900 JPY for a return ticket including the entrance ticket for the village. You can buy these simply at the bus terminal office. The arrival to the village also gets announced in English. You get out at the souvenir shop and then make your way to the Hida Village. It really is one of the most accessible places I have seen in Japan.

 

 

Takayama’s pamphlets:

http://www.hida.jp/english/practical-guide/mapdownload-pamphlet