The Sights, Scenes, and Horrors. Takayama Spring Festival.

Posted By: Creator of Zsup

It's been a long time since my last post, because I really lacked the inspiration to post anything that I thought might be of interest to readers. But today, after reaching the lowest point in my travels in Japan, I figured it would be a GREAT thing to share this with everyone.

Its been 45 days.

In Japan.

45 days of fun, excitement, tiredness, and spending.

On the last day of my Japan Rail Pass. It was the first day of the Takayama Spring Festival. Apparently one of the top 3 in Japan.

So early in the morning after the stop over the night before in Nagoya. We caught the first train to Takayama at 7.43 a.m., and it took just over 2 hours to get there. Reaching at 10.01 a.m., we realised that Takayama was REALLY COLD, in fact just as the weather forecast had shown me, it actually snowed! 2nd time I have seen snow in my life and just within a month away from the last time in Japan!

We started off trying to find out more about the festival from the TOURIST information centre. Rainestormyr went off to do so, while I searched around for stamps (our everlasting quest). Turned out, that even though the TIC was placed in a prime position and there were so many non-japanese tourists, AND they spoke English, all the information they could give us was a very unhelpful pamphlet and repeatedly telling us that ALL HOTELS ARE BOOKED OUT, even though we were asking about 24hour internet cafes. With that, our festival experience started. ZZZ..

 TIC of Nothingness

When we finally found out about the performance schedule, we headed out to check out the Kakuri Doll performances. Which apparently needed in excess of 10 people just to operate ONE DOLL. Which I found quite amazing, considering that it is only 1 doll.
Yes, there were many people.
 One of the dolls.
After the performance, we headed out to enjoy the sights of the old town, the festival food and just plainly to check out Takayama.

After hours of walking around, we finally obtained the information we needed. Which came from an English pamphlet given by a POLICEMAN. Seriously that just goes to show how lousy that TIC was. ZZZ. The pamphlet told us that the highlight would start at about 6.30 p.m. We decided that since we could catch the last train to Toyama (our next location) after the performance, we would stay and watch it.

As time went by, the temperatures got colder, and colder, and colder. I believe that if weather forecast was right, it hit about 1 degree and we braved that cold to watch what was supposed to be a spectacular festival. The festival itself was quite a scene. The lights on the floats, being pushed by 8-12 people down the road, all of it was pretty. However, one must comment harshly on the conduct of the festival.

The crowd control was the worst we have seen since the first festival (Tagata Jinja), the festive crowd control in our area consisted of 1 man. That's a ratio of about 1:300? The start was pretty ok, as the people listened and stay within the boundary set by the oraganisers, but soon, it was hell with people rushing up to the floats and running across the path that the floats would be taking. What was supposed to be a sight to behold became one of sight of assholes. Not to mention all the old people would be pushing through and causing everyone to move while taking pictures.

By about 8p.m. the festival ended, and we were well on our way to Toyama. With frozen fingers and hands. The train to Toyama took about an hour and a half. And when we reached there, it was dreamland. The streets were empty, and it was cold, well not as cold as Takayama, but it was cold. And it started raining. And we had no clue where to go.

So in the end we settled for an expensive night at a hotel. Toyoko-inn (Lol. Considering our last experience there, its quite funny, read back to Yokohama to get an idea) We managed to get a special night rate because we reached at an unearthly time of 1a.m. and I signed up with them for membership (lifetime). Total damage? About 7500 yen. Freaking expensive night.

So ends our journey through Takayama.

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2 zsupplets:

Sasa J. said...

Thanks for the review. Will be useful. And yeah that TIC is useless. Agree 100%. Something must be done about it.
If you have anything else to say about Takayama, good or bad, i would very much like to read it. We need tourist feedback. We want to improve our city for the pleasure of visitors. We don't want that people come here expecting something but then have to leave disappointed.
Thank you again, and please do visit Takayama at late spring or late summer. I guarantee it doesn't snow then..
Have fun on your travellings!

Raine said...

Hi Sasa! Thanks for your comment ^.^ Actually we LOVED the snowing because we're from a tropical country - it was really the first time we got to walk around with snow! But it was very cold for us, haha.

I really hope that the TIC will get better, as well as the crowd control for the parade in the evening. The floats were very beautiful, but the crowd was not given enough direction for where it was safe to stand and compared to Shimosya Onbashira and Tagata Jinja Hounen Sai, we really felt that the manpower dedicated to crowd control was insufficient - only one or two people for the big big group at the bridge where we were standing! It was a very tough job for them, I think ;D