ode to autumn [travel] …. Shirakawa-go

In “Ode to Autumn”, John Keats wrote:

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness! Close bosom friend of the maturing sun; Conspiring with him how to load and bless With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eaves run; ……

What a beautiful image of my favourite season. 🙂  I enjoy the weather.  The scents.  The low-hanging fruit. The colour! It’s my favourite time of year to travel too.

Spring comes second.  It’s full of new life with flowers in full bloom.  Its long days are a boon for the traveller.  But I found out I was allergic to pollen the hard way when I visited friends in Hawaii, then in Edmonton, one spring.  We drove in Canada and by the time we got to Victoria (after Calgary, Jasper, Banff, Lake Louise, Vancouver), my eyes had swelled to the proportion of the compound eyes of a fly! 😯 Needless to say, I was an ugly sight saved only by the bug-shaped sunnies covering my eyes! Irony that. 😀

Winter’s very difficult to pack for. Then there’s the stripping off and putting on the layers when you go into the heated indoors or step outside again.  Very “mah fun”. I mean “leceh”.  Ok that didn’t help either. 😛 Er… inconvenient, I guess, would come closest to it.  Winter’s rather bleak too with its short days and leaveless trees.  It’s like life being snuffed out.

I hate humid, clammy weather.  I’ve been told I melt in the heat.  Not that I didn’t know. 🙄 I feel every bead of sweat that contributes to the puddle.  And since I melt all the time at home, summer is a season I don’t plan any travels for, unless it’s duty travel.

So autumn, pregnant with the scent of luscious harvests and peppered with hues of warm reds, oranges and browns is my preferred choice for travel. EnglandLondon, Stratford-upon-Avon, Oxford, Cotswold, Bath, Lake District; ScotlandLoch Lomond, Perth (yes in Scotland), Glasgow, Edinburgh; New ZealandChristchurch, Kaikoura, Alpine Triangle, Mount Cook, Queenstown, Lake Te Anau, Milford Sound, Fox Glaciers, tranz alpine track back to Christchurch; AustraliaPerth, Margaret River, Denmark (yes in Western Australia), Pemberton, Cape Leeuwin, Albany, were places I visited in Autumn. Don’t mind the list.  I’m just trying to remind myself of these places as most of my photos were lost in a laptop mishap off the mistake of HP! 😡 ..sigh..

Anyway, I had the privilege of visiting a friend in Nagoya last Autumn and enroute, I went to Takayama and Shirakawa-go, then later to Tokyo and Hakone.  Since I have these photos, I thought I’d journal and post some of them. 🙂 Today it’ll be Shirakawa-go, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Shirakawa-go is famed for its gassho-zukuri farmhouses. Some more than 250 years old. “Gassho-zukuri” means like hands in prayer. The sloping eaves is designed to withstand heavy snowfall the region experiences in winter.  The roofs made without nails provided large attic spaces to cultivate silkworms.  It takes 200 men over two days to re-thatch the roof every 30 to 40 years.

           

Children at play….

Hearkens back to the days when we used to catch “longkang” (drain) fish, spiders and other games we dreamt up. Made the rules up as we went along.

   

She suddenly straightened (see previous picture).

  Saw me…   Came closer and closer. Right up to me The observer became the observed 🙂 Then just as suddenly, off she ran to play. They were collecting leaves and stones from the drain and lining them up to be dried. What simple pleasures! 🙂   There was also a camera-shy third party 😛 playing with the girls. I presume they are siblings. I finally caught him in action. He was already running off as I snapped this.

 It was my cue to move on too. I had stopped to watch them play, enroute to the viewpoint.     See the coach and car on the road? (picture below) They have come out of a tunnel cut through the mountain

Along a shaded path near the summit, I saw an artist at work. From his vantage point, he was painting the most recognised view of Shirakawa-go. He stopped to chat as I took photos of him at work. Yes, he spoke English and knew Singapore is an independent city state and not part of China. 😛

View from the top

       

I hear they light up the village in winter. Sounds magical! Tempting. Winter notwithstanding.

   Shirakawa-go is 50 minutes by bus from Takayama – home of the Hida beef! 🙂  The morning that I was to leave for Shirakawa-go, it was misty in Takayama.  I could hardly see beyond 10 metres from my room window.  Bummer right!?  Cos I couldn’t imagine much of any view from any viewpoint.  But the choice was sure mist in Takayama or hopeful mist-less Shirakawa-go.  I chose hope. 🙂 Checked out and trudged to the bus station to get my ticket.  The mist followed us 😦 until a miraculous burst of sunlight 20 minutes into the journey then it was cloudless blue skies all the way. 🙂  So can’t complain that the pictures, particularly from the viewpoint are a little harsh (it was close to 11am) cos the sunlight was pouring down on an 18-degree celcius ground temperature!  Brilliant!  🙂  from the bus… first burst of sunshine! 🙂   I digress… it was just to explain the rather harsh light of the viewpoint pics (besides being pixelated too due to “zoom”). Back to blue skies and idyllic village moments 😎

  

Largest bonsai i’ve seen

     

      We can see his craft in the miniature wooden gassho-zukuri farmhouses. Can you tell the real artisan? 😛

 teahouse

    & theatre

back at the start….

  view from the bus station

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5 thoughts on “ode to autumn [travel] …. Shirakawa-go”

  1. Thanks for your the vote of confidence regarding the pictures, 2Cents! What a generous comment. Coming from an aficionado, it is encouraging. 🙂

    Understand that for a time-trapped, busy executive that a holiday is a holiday. No matter what the season. It’s just a break from the hectic schedule you’re after. So yeah, no issue there.

    But if you had the luxury of choice, is there no season you prefer? I didn’t elaborate for fear the entry would be too long. But even in seasons, there are times to avoid like early spring due to early spring rains. Winter in coastal areas like Monterey are milder and more pleasant than when you go inland. Of course, if you holiday to ski, only one time of year for that! Or in the tropics, except on highlands, seasons are hot and wet or hot and dry. 😛 (again simplifying things…but you get what I mean). So say you’re retired and time is not an issue (we haven’t gotten to where yet… ie: your “must-visit” places… that’s a blog for another day), which season gets your vote? Pushing it, aren’t I? 😆 Just curious.

    1. Woah…you give alot of thought into season and place, don’t you? Honestly, I do not think I have a preferred season. I like Spring because it is nice and cool, I like Summer because I never have to worry about bringing bulky winter gear, I like Autumn because it reminds me of a time gone by (dunno why) and I like Winter because I like the contrast between the cold outdorrs and the warm indoors 🙂 …. and I have not answered your question yet. Frankly I do not mind any weather between 10 degrees to 30 degrees….am I getting warm?

      1. 😕 … Hmmm… Are you getting warm? That was a rhetorical question, wasn’t it? But I’ll buck the trend and give you an answer anyway. 😛 Not by a mile, in my books. But you are if you think you are. 😛

        No lah… I don’t put a lot of thought into place and season. I pretty much am a last minute traveller. I travel on a whim. The season and place just falls in … 😀 Nagoya etc… was conjured after a chat with my friend who is staying there. It was a good time for both of us and I was off in a week after that chat, on the first flight I could get on miles. Or England and Scotland … I was speaking with a friend who said she had a meeting in Montreal. Both of us happened to have leave days to clear and we decided to take a vacation. I went ahead to parts of England for 10 days. We then met in London and drove to the Lakes and Scotland when she arrived. That trip, I was off in five days after we hatched the plan. Just bought a Euro rail and air ticket and I was off. 😛 did any reading of places of interest to me n “getting around” on the plane! I could go on… But you get the drift… My trips are unplanned, planned trips. 😀 hahaha…But I do have planned trips too (in terms of time) if I travel with family or friends who need to factor in school holidays etc..

        The seasons and places are purely coincidental. I’ll travel anytime things fall into place. Or to visit a friend. Or if a friend needs company….So the seasons do not supersede. I just have preferred seasons. Maybe it’s just the colours that wow me in Autumn. Or the harvests that remind me of life and hope and plenty. I just get a little whimsical. That’s all.

  2. Awesome pictures…picture postcard !
    Nice poem…..wish I could write like that. I don’t have an issue with travelling in any season…hot and clamy included. The thought of being on holiday is enough to overcome any weather 🙂

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