Field trip to Gifu and Aichi 6-7.11.2002

Go to any tourist attraction in Japan, and you'll see groups led by cheerful tour guides who seem to have unlimited energy to explain every detail using their small portable loudspeakers. The travellers dutifully follow the guides, take a number of photographs and then disappear again in buses bound to the next destination in carefully planned schedule. The "Field Trip" organized by the Kanazawa University International Student Center worked exactly the same way, except that the participants didn't always follow the guides (and there was some free time included too). On the other hand, we probably took even more group photos than any other tourists.

The purpose of the trip was to introduce exchange students to Japanese culture and some famous places in Aichi (愛知) and Gifu (岐阜) prefectures. To make it even more attractive, the university generously paid most of the trip, the cost for students including all meals was only 5000 yen (about 40 euros) which didn't even fully cover the accommodation. The places we visited included

  • Shirakawa-gou (白川郷): A collection of gazzho-zukuri style farmhouses, some of them several hundred years old. Being located in the mountains made it necessary to use wind- and cold-resistant constructions, not very common in most areas of Japan.
  • Takayama (高山): A village featuring a good number of well-preserved 200-300 year old houses. Especially interesting are the more recent festival carts, which are brought to streets a couple of times a year and spend the rest of time on display in a museum.
  • Inuyama-jou (犬山城): A typical Japanese castle. Inuyama belongs to the few remaining genuine ones, and is about 400 years old. Mostly built using wood, interesting details in architecture, a nice view from the top but no furniture inside.
  • Meiji-mura (明治村): An open-air museum of Meiji-era (1868-1912) buildings. During this period there was a lot of Western influence in Japanese architecture which resulted in interesting mixed style buildings. However, Meiji-era constructions were not considered culturally so important than older Japanese buildings and many of them were later destroyed. In Meiji-mura, buildings of this era have been brought from various parts of Japan and reassembled in a nice park.

However, perhaps the best part of the whole trip was the evening in our hotel. A sumptuous dinner, beautiful Japanese style rooms and hot baths including a large pool outside and even a sauna surrounded by snow. With Juha (the other Finnish guy) we naturally had to enjoy it in Finnish style, rolling in the snow before going to sauna - but snow followed by the hot bath was even better! :-)

Arrived at Shirakawago. Some people walked on snow for the first time in their life.
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One of the houses at Shirakawago.
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Lunch at Matsuri-no-Mori (祭りの森). Note the Japanese serving style: each plate is different.
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The matsuri floats in Takayama not only look impressive but feature many hidden surprises too.
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Fireplace in Kusakabe Mingeikan (日下部民藝館), a late 19th century merchant's house in Takayama.
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Our guide had grabbed some funny toys in Takayama and we played Bingo to get them as prizes.
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Before arriving to the hotel we still did a short stop in a small town called Furukawa (古川).
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Our room in the hotel - free tea available as always in Japan.
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The dinner was an all-you-can-eat buffet, and I certainly took advantage of it. Especially sashimi.
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Sabine, Angel and Danielle relaxing after the dinner.
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In the evening we had plenty of time to enjoy the hot baths and take photos in yukatas (provided by the hotel).
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The Inuyama-jo castle had nice architecture but was mostly empty inside - as most castles in Japan.
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One of the "guardians" at Inuyama-jo entrance (the place is also a shrine).
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Western style villa in Meiji Mura.
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Army barracks in Meiji Mura, about 100 years old. Actually less archaic than I would have expected.
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Old Kanazawa prison gate, also transferred to Meiji Mura.
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Copyright Arto Teräs <> 2002-2003.
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Last update 03.03.2003.