DAY 6 (1/6): MIYAGAWA MORNING MARKET (宮川朝市), Hida-Takayama (飛騨高山), Gifu Prefecture (岐阜県), Japan, 2018.05.30
Before leaving Takayama we made a brief visit to the Miyagawa Morning Market. Everyday from 6:30am to noon, market stalls selling farm produces, local crafts, snacks, and souvenirs will be set up at the Jinya-mae Market in front of Takayama Jinya and Miyagawa Market along the Miyagawa River. These two morning markets have become popular tourist attractions. We arrived at Miyagawa River at around 6:15am, while a number of vendors were setting up their stalls. We took our time strolling along the river, and were delighted to see a few rows of koinobori (鯉のぼり), the colourful carp windsocks, over the water to celebrate the Children’s Day (子供の日) on 5th of May. They were meant to bring good health and bright future for children. As more vendors got their stalls ready, we turned to the delicious snacks for breakfast. Steady rain began soon after we had our first snacks. We hastily finished them and got ourselves a few local products (miso, dried mushrooms, spices, etc). After returning to our guesthouse to pick up our backpacks, we made it just in time to catch the 8:25am bus for Shirakawa-go, our destination of the day before moving on to stay the night at Ainokura of Gokayama.
The sky was grey and Miyagawa River (宮川) was calm as always. We thought the market stalls wouldn’t be up and running right at 6am so we took our time to stroll along the river.
It was delightful to start the day with a close encounter with a wooden Daikokuten or the God of Luck near the Kaji Bashi Bridge.
Colourful koinobori (鯉のぼり) or carp windsocks were set up (probably for a few weeks around the Children’s Day on 5th of May) over the Miyagawa River (宮川).
Originally the windsocks were used by samurai warriors during battles. In modern times, koinobori or the carp windsocks are meant to bring strength, good health and courage to children.
It was a pleasant scene to have a few rows of colourful koinobori over the calm water of Miyagawa River (宮川).
Some signs said the market opened at 6am and some said 6:30am. Even at 6:30am, not all stalls were set up and visitors were scarce. The grey weather and rainy forecast just made things worse.
Time was still quite early and there weren’t that many visitors around.
We would have to imagine if it was a little later in the day and with finer weather, the market would be much busier.
We would love to get some local produces but we just couldn’t bring them along with us for the rest of the trip.
An old man let us try the samples of the dried shiitake mushrooms. The sample tasted gorgeous and led us to buy a bag of the dried shiitake mushrooms. This bag of dried shiitake turned out to become the best dried shiitake we had ever had at home.
Seven-favored spices is a famous local product. We got a mini bag of spices from the old lady.
After 7am, more stalls were opened as well as the souvenir shops along the opposite side of the pedestrian walkway.
A few stalls were selling beautiful flowers and plants. We would soon found out that flowers were inseparable with village homes in the Japanese Alps area.
An old lady was selling all kinds of miso (味噌). We picked up a pack of Hoba Miso, a regional sweet miso wrapped in a dried hoba leaf (magnolia). Traditionally, the leaf was meant for wrapping the miso and cooking it over the fire.
Local honey vendor was about to open his stall.
Our first snack at the market was the takoyaki or octopus dumplings.
Watching how the takoyaki was made by the vendor was an interesting event in itself.
After takoyaki, we moved to the next stall for fish-shaped mini cakes with various sweet paste.
The takoyaki vendor recommended us to try the award-winning custard pudding at NOIX de COCO (ノアドココ). It was a fabulous suggestion. The vendor was friendly, the pudding delicious, and we got a chance to take a photo of the cute pikachu wearing a pudding hat!
Steady light rain continued and more visitors arrived at the market, but it was time for us to take the bus and move on to our next destination: the traditional gassho-zukuri village ares of Shirakawa-go (白川郷) and Gokayama (五箇山).
There are about a dozen of sub-temples in the Nanzenji compound. After visiting the Hojo, we headed back to the Suiro-kaku Aqueduct. A flight of steps behind the aqueduct led us to the upper platform of Nanzenji. There we arrived at the entrance of Nanzenin (南禅院), one of the sub-temples of Nanzenji with a tranquil pond garden surrounded by lush-green forest. Visitors were not allowed to enter the building, but we were able to tour the garden. Centered at a small water pond, Nanzenin’s garden was designed in Chisen Kaiyu, or the pond strolling style. A stone path led us around the pond. Left of the pond, there was a elegant pavilion inside an enclosure wall. It was the royal mausoleum of Emperor Kameyama (亀山天皇), the founding emperor of Nanzenji who converted his retirement villa into a Zen Buddhist temple in the 13th century. According to a 15th century account, cherry trees from Yoshino, reed plants from Nanba, and maple trees from Tatsuta were transplanted, and frogs from Ide were released for the making of the garden. The autumn foliage had just past its peak. Most of the vivid red leaves had fallen into the pond, or scattered on the moss covered rocks around the pond.
The temple hall of Nanzenin (南禅院) was not open to the public.
The water pond in Nanzenin’s garden was created in a heart shape.
Much of the red leaves around the pond had fallen into the water.
A sense of deep autumn on the moss-covered ground.
Most of the stone path was damp and peaceful.
The mausoleum of Emperor Kameyama (亀山天皇) elegantly stood at the left side of the pond.
Moss covered a large area of the ground around the pond.
Outside Nanzenin, the remaining autumn foliage, dark timber structures and blue-grey roof tiles evoked a sense of solitude and serenity for the otherwise historical setting.
Lastly we came to Tenjuan Temple (天授庵), another sub-temple of Nanzenji dedicated to the Zen master who served Emperor Kameyama. Constructed in 1337, Tenjuan contained both a dry rock garden and a wet pond garden. We stepped into the complex of Tenjuan as the sun had climbed above the Higashiyama Mountains (Eastern Mountains), casting a touch of warmth into the gardens. Similar to Nanzenin, we were not allowed to enter the building interior. Instead, the main focus was again the two gardens. In the dry rock garden, moss seemed grew naturally around stepping stones, creating a romantic ground cover on the gravel pool. We sat at the veranda for a few minutes to admire the dry landscape. At the back, there was the Chisen Kaiyu or pond strolling garden. Just like the garden at Nanzenin, we circled the pond at Tenjuan. The stroll was quite interesting, especially at the part walking on the zigzag stepping stones across the water. A school of koi or nishikigoi fish (錦鯉) swam freely in the pond. When we stopped at the shore, the fish would swim over and gather right in front of us, perhaps hoping that we might feed them? It was almost 10am by the time we finished with Tenjuan. We decided to leave the compound of Nanzenji and found our way to the Philosopher’s Path.
We bought our admission tickets at the entrance courtyard of Tenjuan (天授庵). The main building was not open to the public. We followed a side path into the gardens at the back to start our visit.
The dry landscape of Tenjuan was dominant by the moss and paver patterns.
It was a pleasant morning strolling around the naturalistic pond.
The zigzag stepping stones was a neat feature in the journey.
Part of the journey brought us closer to the Tenjuan buildings.
Another feature was a timber bridge. At this tie of the year the bridge was covered with autumn leaves.
Maple and bamboo were two prominent natural features in the garden.
The moss, fallen leaves and pond reflections offered a serene atmosphere around us.
As we stood by the water to take photos, the koi fish approached us from afar.
The koi fish gathered in front of us.
Before leaving Nanzenji, the maples at the entrance court reminded us once again the season of late autumn.