Category Archives: Japan

Gero Onsen Gassho Mura (and the slide)

Saturday was a wet and rainy day, but Sunday the sun came up and we took a trip over to the Gassho Village in Gero aka Gero Onsen Gassho Mura. As you can see from the video the trees are still gorgeous… and the slide is still fun.

Night Parade

Takayama Night Parade

Takayama Night Parade

The big finale was the night parade! It was neat to see the beautiful carvings and tapestries illuminated by the lanterns. None of the floats hit buildings or the stop lights

The floats

Whimsical carving on a float

Whimsical carving on a float

The floats only come out twice a year… here is one getting ready for the night parade

Gojunko Procession

Gojunko Procession

Gojunko Procession

Last year the Takayama Spring Festival was held during the middle of the week. This year it was a Sunday/Monday event so we were able to check it out. There were floats, processions, music, puppet shows, and a night parade. Despite the sheer number of people who converge in Takayama, parking wasn’t bad at all.

We’ve never considered ourselves videographers, but that’s never stopped us from recording.


Hooray! First egret of the season. I hope he found some frogs to feast upon. There’s a video belowCrane


Our neighbors are generally pretty quiet. But last night they were beating drums, playing the flute, and dancing all around. Not sure what they were celebrating, memorializing, or what. The kid in the center danced around in a circle for about 10 minutes. And everyone likes videos, so we uploaded one for you.


Jigokudani Monkey Park

With Spring sneaking up on us, we took a day trip up to Nagano prefecture to see the onsen monkeys! Even though most of the snow was gone, there were still plenty of monkeys to see. These are the ones  on the monkey cam so it was neat to see them up close.

Driving to Jigokudani Monkey Park

Driving to Jigokudani Monkey Park


1.6km walk to the park – covered in ice. Guess it keeps the tour groups out.


a monkey! in the snow!

No running by the pool!

No running by the pool!


wet monkey

Hanging out

Hanging out


monkey business behind the scenes


having a hot drink of water


but Mommmmm you checked for mites yesterday.


Japanese macaque


little monkey



Sega Arcade

We went to Takayama last night to meet some Canadians. We ate at C4H and then went to the SEGA arcade. Lots of games! We also tried out the photo booth…(more)

arcade5 arcade1 arcade2 arcade3 arcade4


Sand from China

Sand dust from China

..a lovely mottled yellow color.

I asked Nick what caused the dirt on vehicles. Here is his reply:

“First of all, the accumulation of dirt on vehicles can be attributed to sandstorms in China that get picked up and carried over on air streams from the west and then deposited down on to Japan.  This is why many vehicles look like they have been driven down a dusty road.  Indeed, before coming to work earlier last week, I wondered why there was a dusty sediment on my scooter.. As I have not been driving down any gravel roads.  I have been warned that it can be hazardous to your health, and another reason why wearing masks is a part of the norm.  Also, do not bother washing vehicles as they will just get coated in the China-yellow-sand soon afterwards.
If the air seems a little smoggy or smokey, it is in fact an invasion of Chinese dust.

Secondly, it is allergy season.  Yet there are not any flowers in bloom yet that I have seen.  There are pollen-emanating evergreens (that are sometimes brown) that exist all throughout Japan, and this is the reason behind allergy season in Japan.

It turns out Japan is a much more dangerous place than I had originally thought… Especially in spring.”

Narita-san mentioned that the sand is much finer than normal beach sand, which is how it is able to make the journey from China.

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Historic Villages of Shirakawa

About 2 hrs from Gero is the historic village of Shirakawa. For a few weeks of the year, they illuminate the gassho-zukuri farmhouses. I had seen pictures on the internet, and it looked really cool, so we were game for the drive. Dietz and I hopped in the car, manned only with our phone GPS. It was snowing like crazy (and pretty cold) at Ogimachi, but it was beautiful. If you want to look at it when it’s not a winter wonderland, check it out here.




It makes me so happy to have my best friend along for this unexpected journey.

(pardon the mush, but it IS Valentine’s Day)

…taken at a random rest stop last summer.