Monday, March 28, 2011

The Best of Takayama - Hida Folk Village (Hida no Sato)

It's been nearly a year since my trip to Japan. The earthquake, tsunami followed by the nuclear plant disaster has changed the landscape of Japan. I considered if I should continue to post about my trip and came to the conclusion that in the midst of the horror and tragedy, I want to remember the beauty of this nation.

One of the highlights of our visit to Takayama is the Hida Folk Village - a large open-air museum with a collection of antique houses from the region. We bought a bus and entrance pass from the Takayama bus station for 900 Yen.

Make sure you have on good walking shoes as the village is quite large, featuring over 30 farmhouses and traditional houses. Slip-on shoes would be preferred because you have to take your shoes off before you enter each traditional house.

Before I talk about the traditional houses, I have to talk about the view. We were blessed with a beautiful weather that day. This is what we saw...

...a breathtaking view of the peaks of the Japan Alps. This more than made up for not being able to see Mount Fuji when we were in Tokyo!

The village itself was no slouch either. The houses surround a lake and has rolling hills as backdrop.

The Japanese have such a keen appreciation for their culture and have taken great steps to preserve it. A lot of these houses were dismantled from their original sites and rebuilt in the village. I had originally wanted to visit Shirakawa-go, a UNESCO world heritage site to see the famed gassho-zukuri, the thatched A-frame style farmhouses. However, due to lack of time, we had to scratch that off our list. I was very happy to have gotten the opportunity to see an original gassho-zukuri at the Hida Folk Village.

The gassho-zukuri has steep thatched roof, designed to withstand the heavy snowfall in the region. Apparently, the name means "constructed like hands in prayer", as the roofs resemble the hands of Buddhist monks pressed together in prayer. The steep roof provides a large attic space to culivate silkworms.

Each house will display a sign to tell visitors a little bit about the history and time period of the house.

In some of the houses, you will get to see traditional crafts taking place, like weaving.

Most of the houses will have a traditional fireplace near the front of the home...

Some larger than others...

The Taguchi's house (village headman) is beautifully furnished with multiple rooms.

Others are much simpler...and used to display artefacts, such as this sledge.

The Hida Folk Village gets a thumbs up for showcasing Japanese culture and history, in a beautiful surrounding.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Be Still

Water is life. Yet, the very thing that man cannot survive without also brings death. I just cannot believe my eyes when I saw the giant waves of the tsunami sweep everything on its path, tossing trucks and ships like toys, destroying homes and buildings in Japan last Friday. The earthquake and subsequent tsunami resulted in thousands killed, thousands missings and tens of thousand homeless.

It is incidents like this when one realizes how helpless mankind is. Despite how much we have progressed and think that we're self sufficient, we all need God more than ever.

Hide me now
Under Your wings
Cover me
Within Your mighty hand

When the oceans rise and thunders roar
I will soar with You above the storm
Father you are King over the flood
I will be still and know You are God
Find rest my soul
In Christ alone
Know His power
In quietness and trust

When the oceans rise and thunders roar
I will soar with You above the storm
Father You are king over the flood
I will be still and know You are God