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Japan Alps, Nagoya, Gifu: Part III

By Carolinearnoldtravel @CarolineSArnold

Japan Alps, Nagoya, Gifu: Part III

Gifu.  Statue of Cormorant fisherman wearing traditional clothing.

Gifu and Nagoya (Trip to Japan, September 2008)
After our visit to the Japan Alps, we took a train back to Gifu from Takayama and arrived in Gifu by 11:30. We bought food for lunch at a market in Gifu station and pastries at a French bakery for my breakfast the next morning, and got a taxi to the Miyako Hotel, a 15 minute ride from the center of town. Our room the 10th floor overlooked the river and was the perfect spot to watch herons, kites and the cormorant boats at night.  

Japan Alps, Nagoya, Gifu: Part III

View of river and Mount Kinka from our room at the Miyako Hotel

Tuesday, September 9
Got up at 5:00 for a taxi to Gifu station for a 5:58 train to Nagoya.  I changed there at Kanayama station for Kosoji Station.  All went like clockwork; the trains were not crowded and left precisely on schedule.  While Art attended his conference, I spent the day doing an author visit at the Nagoya International School.  After school, my hosts took me to the 100 yen store (like a dollar store) where I picked up a basket full of toys and souvenirs.
Sidebar on Japanese toilets: Japanese toilets never cease to amaze.  In public places, such as the airport, one has a choice of traditional–a hole in the floor over which you squat–or western style. The western style seat in the airport was 3-way: a regular seat for adults, a smaller flip-down seat for a child, and a baby seat, on a hook on the wall, which could be inserted for a very small child.  Many toilet seats, including the ones at the Best Western, come with a console that allows you to heat the seat and/or the water.  Another button triggers a spray of water on your bottom or converts the toilet to a bidet.  My hosts had a further addition to their toilet.  A small basin mounted on top of the toilet tank has a spout that gushes water when you flush the toilet.  You can use the water to rinse your hands.  The water runs until the tank is refilled.  Apparently another teacher at the school had a toilet with an electric eye that lifts the lid when you open the bathroom door! 
Coffee in a Can 

Japan Alps, Nagoya, Gifu: Part III

Typical vending machine.

Wednesday, September 10
Got up early for another day's school visit and had bacon, eggs, fruit, yogurt and coffee from a can.  You can buy canned coffee (and almost any other kind of drink) in vending machines, which are ubiquitous. You pour the coffee into your cup and heat it in the microwave.  It is surprisingly good!
Fish Cookies, an Insect Museum, and Tame Squirrels 

Japan Alps, Nagoya, Gifu: Part III

The Nawa Insect Museum displays insects collected from all over the world.

Thursday, September 11
   I spent the morning walking with a friend along the river by the hotel and shopping and sightseeing on the other side.  We bought some fish shaped cookies (fish are a theme throughout Gifu) and peeked in at a temple with a giant golden lacquer Buddha.  At the park, we went to the insect museum.  After lunch I returned to the park and rode the “ropeway” (a cable car) to the top of Mount Kinka to see the view and tour the Shogun era castle, now a museum.  Before leaving, I stopped at the featured squirrel village where I was given a glove and food so I could feed the squirrels, who scampered about in their enclosed "village".  Apparently Japanese people think that squirrels are exotic and feeding them is a treat!  Perhaps they don’t have squirrels being a nuisance in their yards and stealing food from their bird feeders. 
Traditional Cormorant Fishing

Japan Alps, Nagoya, Gifu: Part III

Cormorant fishing.  (Itai) The fish are attracted to the surface of the water by a fire suspended from a basket at the front of the fisherman’s boat.

In the evening, Art’s host at the conference  took us on a boat to see the traditional cormorant fishing.  As in the children’s book Ping (one of my favorites as a child), the cormorants are trained to catch fish for their master.  A ring around the cormorant’s neck prevents it from swallowing the fish it catches. One at a time, the birds are hauled in to disgorge their fish into a basket.

Japan Alps, Nagoya, Gifu: Part III

Bakery in Gifu.  Colorful sweet cakes are filled with bean paste.

Friday, September 12
In the morning, Art and I toured the cormorant fishermen’s village and then went shopping for souvenirs at a bakery across the river.  Then I left for the airport to return to Los Angeles and Art left for Kyoto and Fukuoka, where he attended another conference.

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