Ryokan in the Japanese Alps

JAPAN!! Our last stop before we headed home (for a month) and nothing could have made it sweeter than to meet up with our besties, Chris & Josephine for five fun filled days in Japan. I confess I’m writing this from the quaint Alsatian town of Ittenswiller, and would kill for a bowl of udon right about now.

We met at the Narita airport and had one night out near the Shinigawa station before putting our ridiculously expensive unlimited JR train passes to use for a 4 hour ride to quaint mountain town of Takayama.
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Takayama

Chris & Jo had arranged for us to stay in a traditional Ryokan (think Japanese B&B) called Ryokan Tanabae run by an adorable woman (Tanabe-san) who made sure Josephine & I had our choice of Yukata’s (casual cotton kimonos) to wear during our stay and even advised on the cutest matching belt to wear with it.

Fish For Breakfast

Being a B&B we got a Japanese B which consisted of hot miso paste over a flame, rice, fish, pickled vegetables and an assortment of items we classified as “no idea”.  Breakfast was served in our room after the kimono clad ladies lovingly switched our room from “night mode” to “day mode” by putting away the comfy futons and setting up the table and tatami mats.

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Breakfast at Ryokan Tanabe

If you make it to Takayama, I strongly recommend splurging for at least one night at the Ryokan Tanabe (~$320) including dinner which is a similar set up to breakfast but with 10x the food including mouth watering sashimi.  All I could think is: WOW! That’s a lot of dishes.

Best part is you can eat in your robe at every meal!

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Dinner at Ryokan Tanabe

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Bartender/owner of a local bar sharing his winter mountaineering stories with us.

Bartender/owner of a local bar sharing his winter mountaineering stories with us.

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This banana is a present.

Must Do’s For Takayama

  • Rent bikes and cruise up to the traditional Hida Folk Village to see how the houses were built way back when. If you’re there in July, be prepared, its HOT in Japan, and Takayama was the coolest place we visited due to elevation. Consider buying an umbrella for shade.
  • Hike the Higashiyama Walking Path and enjoy the many gorgeous Shinto shrines (Chris & Jo renewed their vows in celebration of their 10 yrs together. We were honored to officiate!)
  • Soak in an Onsen (Japanese hot stone baths)
  • Wear a Yukata and Geta (wooden split toe shoes), take a photo.
  • Sit at the bar and eat tempura at Ebihachi. One piece at a time is served straight from the wok to your plate with instructions on whether to use soy sauce, or various salt options.  It’s a bit rapid fire and I found myself in full food coma state about half way in but it’s ah-mazing.

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As our first stop in Japan, Takayama and Ryokan Tanabe set the bar pretty high, but our epic sushi night in Kanazawa did not disappoint.

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