Day 3 - The drive to Takayama

Today was the start of our driving adventure in Japan.  Armed with suitcases, cameras, International driving licences, maps, and excitement, we trundled off to the nearest car hire depot for 10 am on Monday morning.  We were given a very helpful English guide on driving in Japan and then tried to set the SatNav for our destination of Takayama.  Impossible!  Even the car hire lady had difficulty with this!  So, she set the destination for us in Japanese, and the machine proceeded to speak to us in English, but so quietly that it was almost useless.  So, thanks to Google maps, we knew where we were and where we were supposed to be going, so off we went!


Once we escaped the confusion of road signs taking us northwest out of Yokohama, we found ourselves on expressways with few other drivers.  It was a beautiful sunny day and the scenery was spectacular.  The trees were changing colour but sadly there were no lay-bys for phototaking opportunities.  

The service stations along the expressways are of varying sizes; all will have toilets and food of some sort, and the larger ones have petrol stations, amusement centres, and all sorts of things!  We stopped at Hatsukari for lunch and were rewarded by the unexpected view of Mt. Fuji from the carpark.  So, we sat ouside eating our noodles etc and enjoyed the wonderful scenery.

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Our next pit stop was by Lake Suwa, as the map indicated that this was a point of special interest.  You could see small pleasure vessels on the lake; swan-shaped boats which feature heavily on lakes throughout Japan.

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Thereafter, we spent a lot of time in tunnels as we headed up through the Japan Alps.  Most of these were one-way and some looked far too old to stay up!


By 5 pm we were off the expressway and nearly at our destination of Takayama.  Finally we had the chance to pull over and take some photos of the colourful trees.

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setting sun

The sun was starting to disappear now so we reached our destination in the dark.  We stayed at the Pension Hida no Mori ( which was about 10 minutes out of the town centre.  This was a purpose built guest house in the Japanese style, so rooms were shared (but did have Western beds), as were the bathroom facilities.  We then enjoyed the most wonderful Italian meal, with everything handmade by the chef, including the pasta.  Later we explored the ‘baths’ which were small versions of Japanese onsens.  So after cleaning yourself under a shower hose, you then soaked in a hot bath.  This was so relaxing after a long day of driving, so we retired to bed early and everyone slept fairly well that night.

© Helen Gray 2021