Already been to Japan? See another side of it with Japan’s ‘Second Golden Route’ – here you can experience traditional and spiritual Japan.

You’ve been to Japan, you’ve been on the ‘Golden Route’ to Tokyo and its seemingly polar opposite Kyoto, then moving on to Nara and Osaka, but Japan has so much more on offer.

There is however a ‘Second Golden Route’ which takes you to see unique parts of Japan, here you can find an enriching cultural and spiritual experience.

We explore the North Route of the ‘Second Golden Route’ where you can immerse yourself in Japanese history.

 

Takayama

Furui Machinami, Hida Takayama (1)

Set in the mountainous Hida Region, Takayama is a city that has retained a traditional touch. Takayama has developed the own culture, a mixture of Edo culture and Kyoto culture.

During the feudal ages, Takayama gained importance as a source of high quality timber and highly skilled carpenters and became prosperous under shogun control.

oldtown

Visit Takayama’s old town, which has been beautifully preserved with many buildings and whole streets of houses dating from the Edo Period (1600-1868), when the city thrived as a wealthy town of merchants.

Spring Festival

Spring Festival

If you time it right, you can also visit one of Takayama’s famous festivals, the Spring Festival (April 14-15) and the Autumn Festival (October 9-10), each of these have a dozen beautiful floats, some with mechanical dolls that can move and dance.

You can also view the floats all year round at Yatai Kaikan, a festival float exhibition hall.

Rural-Japan-Shirakawago-Village-summer

Shirakawago gasshozukuri

A World Heritage Site, the village of Shirakawago gasshozukuri, is located near Takayama. You can stay at Takayama as your base and take interesting tours around the area.

 

Kanazawa

Gare_kanazawa_08_2006

During the Edo Period, Kanazawa served as the seat of the second most powerful feudal clan, the Maeda Clan in terms of rice production and fief size. Today, Kanazawa remains an important city in its region and serves as the capital of Ishikawa Prefecture.

The city boasts many historical attractions such as restored residences and districts, as well as modern museums.

garden

Kenrokuen

Japanese gardens have always been revered as some of the most beautiful and you can find a prime example of this at Kenrokuen in Kanazawa. This striking garden has been hailed as one of Japan’s “three most beautiful landscape gardens”.

The garden offers a variety of plants and will take on different looks as the seasons change, so it’s enjoyable all year round.

There are also teahouses in the garden where visitors can drink tea and eat traditional Japanese sweets. Make sure you go to the higher parts of the garden for breath-taking views.

chaya

Chaya District, Kanazawa

For a taste of the Japan we’ve only experienced in books in movies, visit the Chaya Districts and Nagamachi Samurai districts. A chaya, literally translating to teahouse, is a restaurant where guests can enjoy performances from Geishas, and Kanazawa’s Chaya districts have some of the best preserved.

The Higashi Chaya District, the largest of the three districts offers two chaya, the Shima Teahouse and Kaikaro Teahouse, and they’re both open to the public. What was it like to be a Samurai?

You can view how they lived in Nagamachi Samurai District, there are samurai houses, earthen walls, private entrance gates, narrow lanes and water canals.

A restored samurai residence with a beautiful, small garden. A highlight of the district is the Nomura-ke, a beautifully preserved residence were a high ranked samurai family (Nomura) lived.

castle

Kanazawa Castle

Another highlight of Kanazawa is the Kanazawa Castle, the seat of the powerful Maeda Clan. The castle has burnt down a few times throughout its history but now a project is underway to slowly rebuild the historic buildings within the castle.

Do you prefer to travel to regional areas or are you a city person?