This is perhaps the most famous and biggest site of the gassho style houses. I was glad I stopped in at Ainokura before hand and had a more personal time viewing the houses. I was met by tourists buses and throngs of people milling around. I was surprised how many Chinese tourists were around as well. I didn't want to park in the main parking lot because I was afraid they would charge me by the hour or too much. I planned to stay at one of the gassho houses that night and wanted an affordable option until I could park my car wherever I was staying. Luckily, someone was renting out the lot across from their house for 500 yen, for all day. Score on that. Before taking a longer walking around the village I stopped for lunch and had the recommended dish, hoba miso.
You get to cook your own vegetables and miso on top of a leaf over a small little flame. It's quite fun and entirely delicious. The smell of burning miso at the end flooded the shop but I didn't feel bad. I'm sure that is just how it is. I love Japanese set meals like this. It's one thing I will dearly miss. They are usually such good value for what you get and I'm always satisfied.
On a full stomach I took the "hard route" up to the look out platform. This iconic view is probably best anytime other than when I was there. The winter had just ended so the snow was gone and spring hadn't come through enough yet. The pictures of it in other seasons made me wish to be there another time yet I wasn't going to let such feelings get me down. I had risen through rain and made it all the way there.
The following guy was repairing a roof. The roofs eventually have to be replaced after so many years and it looks to be a long task. They shove the woody branches in and then trim them down to size.
These roofs abound everywhere. I read that people help each other out to repair the roofs. There must be some kind of fund or government program as well. It looks like slow and repetitive work that would end up being expensive.
Earlier in the day I walked up to this gassho house, which also serves as a inn of sorts. I inquired if they had a room and I was pleased to find they had a single one available.
When I was checking in I met a Japanese magazine writer who has lived in America for many years. We talked over the wonderful dinner which was probably well worth the cost of staying at the place by itself. I couldn't believe the tubs of rice they put out for each individual. I didn't take a picture of dinner for some reason. But I made sure to grab one of the breakfast which was equally splendid.
I spent the night in a little room that had a view of the river. I think it was the best view in the entire place. As we ate dinner someone sneaked in a back door and laid out the bedding. I slept very well that night with the sound of the river rushing by outside.
In the morning I took my new acquaintance to Takayama because I was driving through their anyway. We spent a few hours walking around together and trying some different kinds of mochi. It was nice to meet a friend after having spent so much time talking to really no one.
I was more interested in moving on to the final destination though. But the timing was perfect. I enjoyed the remaining drive through the mountains and valleys until I landed several hours later at the door step of my friend's house. If I had turned back home then I would have been completely satisfied but it was even better to take my shoes off and sit on the couch reflecting on how far I had come.
One more brief post to follow this one and close up a Golden Week that in every way was golden.