Mystery Stones of Gifu

As we were travelling back from Takayama to Nagoya I kept noticing these mysterious stones and stone monuments in the small villages along the route. I’m still not sure what they are but I guess they are family graves of some kind or possibly, as they seemed to be beside rice paddies, a harvest offering.

Takayama 37-Train Home 1

Takayama 37-Train Home 2


Takayama Autumn Festival (秋の高山祭)8

While in Takayama we stayed at the Ryokan Sumiyoshi, which I thoroughly recommend. The staff were very friendly and really went out of their way to help us and make us feel comfortable.

Takayama 33-Front of Ryokan

Takayama 34-Garden of Ryokan

Takayama 35-Irori of Ryokan

Takayama 36-Armour at Ryokan

Takayama Autumn Festival (秋の高山祭)6

One of the highlights of the festival is the street parade that takes place during the day.

Smaller floats are pulled through the streets and up to the temple:

Takayama 31-Parade3

Takayama 31-Parade4

Takayama 31-Parade4-2.JPG

Takayama 31-Parade2

Takayama 31-Parade6

They are accompanied by a variety of different traditional musicians and musical instruments:

Takayama 31-Parade10

Takayama 31-Parade17

Takayama 31-Parade5

Takayama 31-Parade18

The parade features participants of all ages – from about 80:

Takayama 31-Parade9

To about 8:

Takayama 31-Parade15

And all ages in between:

Takayama 31-Parade14

Takayama 31-Parade13

Takayama 31-Parade12

Takayama 31-Parade8

Sometimes you need a quick break:

Takayama 31-Parade16

Takayama 31-Parade7

And of course it all ends with the Dragon Dance:

Takayama 31-Parade11

Takayama Autumn Festival (秋の高山祭)1

During the long weekend we went up to Hida Takayama in Gifu north of Nagoya for the Autumn festival. The Takayama festival is considered the third most beautiful festival in Japan and started in the 16th Century. There are two festivals during the year which were originally harvest festivals. There is a Spring festival known as the Sanno Festival and the Autumn festival on 9th and 10th October. Both festivals feature huge beautifully decorated floats which are pulled through the town and displayed at a shrine where they have a puppet show. There is also a parade through the town of locals in period costume.

This is the Hida River which runs alongside the train. It is featured in a kabuki play called Musume Dojo-ji:

The play tells the story of a maiden, Kiyo-hime, who falls in love with Anchin, a celibate monk living at the Buddhist temple of Dojo-ji on the Kii Peninsula. Unable to control her intense longing for her love, she takes the form of a serpent in order to cross the flooded Hida River. Crossing it, she reverts to her human form. A ceremony is taking place at the monastery to consecrate a temple bell, and she goes to attend it. Kiyo-hime spots the monks and pursues him. The monk hides under the bell placed on the ground. Angered and frustrated at being shunned, Kiyo-hime turns herself into a serpent and coils around the bell until it heats so much that the monk is incinerated. (Wikipedia)

Takayama 1-From the Train

Here is the river  through the centre of Takayama, lined with the usual stalls you find at Japanese festivals (although these ones featured the local specialty of Hida beef – a welcome addition):

Takayama 2-Along the River

The giant torii looking up towards Sakurayama Hachiman Shrine which is where the puppet show is centred:

Takayama 3-Giant Torii

Zooming in on one of the festival floats with the new camera:

Takayama 11-Floats on Street-Zoom

The floats are displayed on the street leading up to the shrine:

Takayama 4-Floats on Street

Takayama 5.1-Floats on Street2

Takayama 5.2-Floats on Street3

Floats with the main entrance to the shrine which dates back to the time of the Emperor Nintoku (413 – 439):

Takayama 12.2-Floats on Street4