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Only a 15 minute train ride from Takayama, Hida Furukawa is a historical town in Hida city that’s worth visiting. You can see this authentic and charming village, and also have the chance to see the thousands of carp swimming in the small canals throughout the town.
Ten Things to Do in Hida Furukawa
The unique experience of wearing a kimono: Obora Kimono
It was the first time for me to wear a kimono, and it was such a unique experience! Once in the kimono shop, I was quite impressed by the delicacy of everything inside: the colors, the materials, the atmosphere, the women who helped me put the kimono on. The price was very affordable as well, much more so than in Tokyo or Kyoto for example. Kimono rental for one day cost me only 4320 yen. The appointments begin at 10.00 am and you must return by 16.00 to return the kimono.
First, you have to choose the kimono. This was not easy as they were all so beautiful! After looking over all of the kimonos, I finally decided on one. One of the staff told me that my choice was very good as it was quite a seasonal representation. Then I asked her to choose an obi which matched well with the kimono and with my height.
I watched their meticulous work carefully as they dressed me up. I could keep my top, but I had to remove my pants. I first put on a juban, a kind of very fine cotton underwear. I did not expect there to be so many layers of clothes, and belts under the main belt. They adjusted the kimono little by little, pulling the belts tighter until the garment fit snuggly. It was a real technique! I put on traditional socks, tabi, which allowed me to wear the traditional shoes, geta.
I was ready, I felt wrapped but not oppressed. I felt elegant, and ready to walk the streets of Hida Furukawa. Just before leaving, I grabbed an umbrella because it was a hot morning.
Setogawa River with 1000 Carp and Beautiful White Houses
Having been decorated in the kimono, I walked along the beautiful streets of Hida Furukawa. I started in the small alleys along Setogawa Canal. The canal is lined with beautiful white houses which used to be used as granaries. In the past, the canal was very clean, the locals used the water to wash their vegetables. After time, the canal became dirtier. In 1968, the authorities decided to stock it with thousands of carp to clean up the canal. Locals love seeing them swimming in the canal from April to November. During the winter, they relocate them to a nearby pond one by one.
I felt at home in this small village, the authentic and charming atmosphere matched my mood perfectly as I strolled along in my rented kimono.
Enkou-ji temple is located on the canal of Hida Furukawa.
Watanabe Sake Brewery
Underground streams in Japan Alps are used to polish the rice from which this high quality sake is made. This is why we can visit two sake breweries along the streets of Hida Furukawa, including Watanabe Sake Brewery where one American also works. They were established in 1870, and offer sake tasting for both dry and sweet sake. There is something for every taste!
Mishima Candle Shop
This candle shop has been running their business for seven generations, and is one of the few shops in Japan (less than 10 in total) to make handmade candles from natural plants. The candle master is Mr. Junji Mishima, and I had the chance to see his workmanship in progress, and a chance to see the elaborate way he shapes his handmade candles.
Honkouji Temple is the largest wooden temple in the Hida area. It is very impressive and imposing! Honjouji temple was rebuilt after the fire in 1904. Take a look at the incredible architecture of the buildings.
Nino-machi Street / Sanno-machi Street
These two streets are very beautiful, and many locals still live in their own houses on these streets. What I liked is that there were more than just hotels and restaurants, the streets still belong to their inhabitants. On the streets of Hida Furukawa, you might come across some Yatai Gura as well. Yatai Gura are large white warehouses with black signs above the doors, these warehouses act as storage sheds for the great mikoshi (portable temples) during the city festivals, such as during the Okoshi-Daiko, and the grand matsuri which takes place on the 19th and 20th of April each year.
This temple was originally covered with gold leaf. You can see the carpenter’s excellent work! Also, you can see an orange bridge which forms a beautiful, picturesque complex.
Cycling Tour in Rural Japan
Check out other activities at Satoyama Experience to have a better understanding for Hida. Here you can find the ideal tours and trips to see the beauty of Hida Furukawa and experience the countryside of Japan!
How to Get to Hida Furukawa
Would you like to discover more about Hida city? Please check out this website for more details.
- 4 hours from Tokyo, take the Tokaido Shinkansen and then change trains at Nagoya to get on the JR Limited Express Wide View Hida to Hida Furukawa (JR PASS is valid) or take Hokuriku Shinkansen to Toyama and take JR Takayama line to Hida Furukawa.
- 2 hours from Kanazawa
- 3.5 hours from Kyoto
- 15 minutes from Takayama
Original article by: Estelle
Translated by: Aika Ikeda