We felt the cold weather as we stepped off the plane unto the jetway. Stuck in the middle seat for three and a half hours, I made a beeline for the toilet as soon as I am inside the airport terminal, and was reintroduced to the wonder that is the Japanese toilet seat. Mmmmm, warm and toasty.
After clearing immigration, claiming our baggage, and clearing customs, we went to meet with the rest of our group. We were welcomed by Yoshi, our bubbly and energetic guide, who took care very good care of us while we were in Japan. When the group was complete, we headed out to our bus, that would serve as our second homes for the next four days.
We drove out of Nagoya towards Gujo City, an hour an a half away. We were ravenous by the time we arrived, but our meal was already waiting for us in our table, and what a beautiful sight it was to see! The highlight was supposed to be the marinated chicken cooking in these little cooking contraption in our table, but it was the bento box that took our breath away.
Each one has its distinct flavor and texture, it’s hard to pick a which one to start with! It was a very good introduction to Japanese cuisine, at least the ones we are used to: tempura, sushi, ramen, tonkatsu. I love it.
After lunch, Yoshi took us walking around Gujo. It was a beautiful small city, but its shining jewel was the dance lesson at the Gujo Hachiman Kinenkan Tourist Center. It was not an elaborate dance, and the experience was made even more fun by the cute teachers who even made an effort to say some words in Tagalog. Their energy and enthusiasm makes one want to come back for the Gujo Odori dance festival that happens in the summer.
Travel agents learning how to dance the Harukoma
From Gujo, we drove onwards to Takayama. Since it is nearly winter, and we had a very early start to the day, the next thing in our itinerary was dinner and free time at our hotel. At dinner, we had Hoba miso, which had Hida beef, vegetables, and miso grilled on a huge magnolia leaf over fire.
That night, we checked in at the Hotel Associa Takayama Resort, which was 10 minutes from the city center. It was just as well, because the hotel has this amazing outdoor onsen on the top floor. With outdoor temperature dropping down below 10°C, there’s nothing better than to be soaking in super hot water.
Great hotel deals in Takayama via Agoda