We have a choice of a long tunnel or twisty mountain route. Kev chooses the bends and boy are there some bends. The colours are changing here so we are treated to some beautiful vistas we pop out in a valley around lunch and see a sign for a waterfall so we head for that. After our usual noodles for lunch we follow the trail to the Hirayu waterfall it is a big one, legend has it a white monkey appeared from behind it leading soldiers to the Hirayu hot springs. These days it is piped down to the cafe area where it runs all around an ornamental pond and you can order dinner whilst bathing your feet. We just bathe our feet, it feels really relaxing. The setting is lovely with the trees changing colour. It is hard to drag ourselves away towards Takyama.
We find a rather bizare camp tonight it is very built up all around the towns so we head for the hills ending up in a dead end by a phone mast alongside some paddy fields, initially we go to turn round but then think hang on there is only one way in and they won’t be farming now so we stick the tent up and apart from the usual blowing up of the airbed we sleep well.
Today we head into Takyama, the town has a section with a preservation order on the buildings so the streets are very picturesque with Saki factorys and candle makers along with obligatory shrines and temples. We are limited with our time as all the car parks are a fortune and there is no free parking to be found anywhere it is a blessing in two ways. One because when we return to the car park a Delorean is just pulling in, famously used in the back to the future films we have only ever seen one or two on the road and one in a museum. The owner speaks excellent English and it turns out he has owned it for over 20 years he gets the parts imported from the States and it works out cheaper than Japanese spares which bizzarly are incredibly expensive. We take loads of photos. The second reason is that it gives us time to go and visit the Hida No Sato Village, this is just out of town and is a collection of over 20 genuine farmhouses of various prefectures (states, counties) which would have been destroyed when rivers were dammed so have been donated to the museum when the owners were moving. It is a fasinating place and a kind of living history they light the fires to ensure the houses still breathe and smell of woodsmoke and one is an outside stage where they have shows. In the autumn they light up around the central pond area to show the colours of the trees annoyingly we miss this by one day!  We spend far too long there and it’s beginning to get dark so we return to our telephone mast camp
I did such a good of clearing up it looks as though it has not been touched before. Tomorrow we head for Gokayama.
We are on the road by 8am we pass through the village of Furukawa where I see a great temple Kev pulls up right by a canal alongside some old storehouses and we decide to park up and look around. Furukawa is a little gem not touristy but a real working village with preserved buildings over a 1000 koi carp in the small canals running past the houses. We spend a happy couple hours strolling around before eating our noodles for lunch outside the temple and heading off. I can’t believe the roads are even more twisty and beautiful with the autumn colours, near the top is a large full car park. We are surrounded by the sounds of tinkling bells this is prime walking country and they take bears very seriously only ever walking with their bear bells when I think of some of the places where we have camped I think they would probably have kittens. Unfortunately we don’t have time for a walk as we have to photograph our way down the other side first which takes some time as it is stunningly beautiful. Every turn we think it can’t possibly get any more colourful but it does, some of the trees don’t change so you get a range from yellow through 3 or 4 shades of green to orange, copper, rust, crimson and the deep reds of maples and acers topped off with purples. The last turn off the mountain brings you right into a mountain thatched roofed village these are Gasso-zukuri style buildings we are heading for Gokayama and hopefully a campsite we have learnt about. We take a quick detour to a viewpoint over one of the villages where there are around a 100 houses it’s a cracking view. We meet a Japanese/Kiwi couple back to visit her parents as their English is great we are able to move beyond the where are you from questions but it sounds strange hearing a Kiwi accent coming from a Japanese person, after a quick chat we resume our path for Gokayama. We pull into the car park near closing time, we ask about camping he says hei (yes) and the charge is a very reasonable 1000yen. He then shows us the way through town on a map and we head off this feels like being a movie star, only the villagers are allowed in normally so we get the remaining tourists all staring at us. Beyond the town is a quiet beautiful campground all to ourselves with a big fire pit, good facilities and the most amazing views we are in heaven.
  1. #1 by Jane on November 12, 2010 - 11:15 am

    Love the new photos, have just read the other blog I am following who is also in Japan and he said there has been very bad weather and he just stayed in his hotel so I hope you are both alright and haven’t suffered too much with the wind and rain. It has been pretty horrible here this week too. Be in touch soon, travel safe. Love Jane x

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