A Panda in Wonderland ★

Takayama – Where old traditions are still alive! (Part1)

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With our suitcases packed and in high spirits my family gathered at the Tokyo Central Station almost four years ago in June of 2008. The hectic citizens push their way to the different subway stations while we fight our way up to the hopefully right platform that would take us away from ringing cellphones, loud commercial music and busy salary men rushing from one appointment into the other.

In the year of 2008, it was my first time stepping in the yet unknown country that was Japan. My parents and little sister accompanied me on the adventure since back then none of us was capable of speaking any japanese. (Well besides: すみません?英語を喋りますか?//Excuse me, do you speak english?) Don’t even get me started on our first day at Tokyo Metro Station. A disaster. Dumb foreigners.

The countless lights and sides of Tokyo were appealing however, for little village people like us – after three days it was time  to head north-west. To the beautiful countryside.

The wonder that is called the Shinkansen. Bullet train – the fasted one I’ve ever taken. Comfortable and the service makes you feel special.

…Bento boxes (Lunch boxes) are EVERY road trips savior! On top of that they are simply delicious and if you haven’t tried one yet – let me tell you that you missed out. Especially the ones on the Shinkansen or the ones at the train stations are very fresh and made with love! ‘Cause in Japan you eat with your eyes first!

The soothing whirring of the train  taking us through the country had a calming effect after the exciting, loud city life. Our next destination would be Takayama. One of Japan’s oldest cities located in the Gifu prefecture.


About three to four hours away from Tokyo – in the mountain area. The train ride itself took us through the most beautiful landscape,

The river side remembered me a little bit of switzerland. I really have a weakness for rivers that pass through mountains. Such a beautiful sight to see. Back in the train my parents where highly amused about three old ladies sitting right next to us. They were at least in their mid 70th and shamelessly opening cans of beer in the train.

Thumbs up to cool Grandmas with young spirits in Japan!

Another hour later we arrived happily in Takayama. Where we were greeted by locals with confused but also very kind looks. Most of the tourist mainly visit big cities like Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto, Hiroshima and Sapporo so I guess we were some kind of rareness.

This is Takayama’s tourist information Center. Well, it took my dad at least 30 minutes to figure out direction to our ‘ home stay’ location. I love Japanese’s english skills. However, the woman was very kind and took the time trying to explain to us stupid foreigners with wild gestures where we had to go to.

Luckily we found the right bus and arrived safely at our ‘home’ for the next few days.

The owner’s were a lovely older couple. They gave us Yukata’s to change into and advised us to take a warm baths before we would eat dinner with the other guests all together.  In one room. Traditional Japanese style. My sister and I had a hard time to hold in our laughter when my mum was mumbling something like ‘I can’t feel my toes anymore’ after kneeling on the floor for about ten minutes.

Even though we told her a couple of times that she should just change into a normal western sitting position she consisted of battling the old man sitting next to her (who was JAPANESE by the way.) To cut it short. She lost. Seriously Mum, seriously?

The picture shows the table AFTER we ate. Oh how much I miss japanese cooking.

Exhausted from the train ride and stuffed with all different kinds of fish, meat and vegetables we cuddled up on our futon in the small tatami room. While my sister and I had no problems to sleep on the ‘floor’ – my parents kept whining about their backs the whole next morning. Parents are a blessing.

(Part 2 will be up asap)

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Author: clumsypanda

Dance is your pulse, your heartbeat, your breathing. It's the rhythm of your life.

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