Japan Day 34-35: Riding Hirugano to Shirakawa and Rest Day

Today’s ride was surprisingly easy, it was mostly downhill with a few tunnels along the way and hardly any traffic.

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I just rode along Route 156, which took my along Miboro Dam, part of a hydroelectric plant, however after it was built it flooded some villages and shrines. Two giant cherry trees were taken from one of the submerged shrines and replanted at a memorial site on Miboro Lake.

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The lake to the right, although I don’t know the name of the snow capped mountain in the background.

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I arrived at my accommodation early but luckily the host was already there and let me check in and have some ice tea. It was quite warm outside, so I decided to just relax and save my sightseeing for the next day. The main attraction in the town is Shirakawago Village, a UNESCO site known for its Gassho-style farmhouses, which translates to prayer hands and it makes sense when you see the steep thatched roofs.

After my shower, nap and some accommodation organising, I walked to a nearby restaurant to find some dinner, but it was shut, just like the other three restaurants I went past. I wandered further into the old end of town and it appeared that most places were only open 11am-5pm. I gave in and went to the convenience store and had some toast, eggs and an ice cream sandwich for dinner instead.

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Themed biscuits from the convenience store

Day 35: Visiting Shirakawago Village

I got up nice and early and rode my bike up to the Ogimachi Castle Observatory to get a nice photo of the village before it filled up with tourists around noon.

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The view just before the observation deck

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No motor vehicles are allowed in the village between 9am and 4pm, so being on a bike was a convenient way to ride around and see all the different types of farmhouses. They had an open air museum with about twenty different buildings, where you could look inside quite a few of them and see some traditional equipment for different professions.

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The smaller building at the top of the waterfall was a temporary structure for villagers who lost their homes due to fires or other disasters.

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The attics were often used for silk worm farming

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Machinery for silk, but I have no idea how any of it works.

I left the tourist area to find some more reasonably priced food for lunch and tried the soba shop around the corner from my hostel. It overlooked the river and the handmade noodles were so cool and refreshing, but unfortunately that white block was just tofu, not dessert.

My evening was quite low-key, I had an early dinner and Skyped with my friend Amy  from my old Canberra days. She’s on 12 months of leave from work to travel and get away for a while, so it was awesome to catch up and share our ups and downs. It made me miss my friends back home, because while it’s fun to meet lots of new people, it’s nice to talk to someone you know and share in-jokes and talk about some deeper stuff too.

The owner of the hostel was having an English lesson with her friend in the dining room, so I joined them for some snacks and did a bit of work on my tablet. It was a really lively lesson and two guests from Portugal joined in too. Eventually I went to bed and enjoyed the peace and quiet of the mountainside.

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