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In the week of our April trip, we arrived as winter culminated and spring awakened. The weather was still cold, unlike the insufferable Manila heat, and to our luck, caught sight of sakuras in full bloom, exuding colors of white and pastel pink.

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For six days we sojourned in Central Japan. Since Tokyo is a much more familiar destination we only spent two days there and decided to allot four days of our trip for Gifu prefecture.

The streets of metropolitan Tokyo were filled with tourists alike, partaking in the temple and tower visit, snapping a couple of photographs, and purchasing souvenir items at the shopping districts.

20170410_132558.jpgAsakusa Temple 

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View from the Tokyo Tower20170410_095810_001.jpg

 

Gifu prefecture proved to be a little less crowded, its ethereal and cultural gems as alluring as the city’s promises and bright lights. It was there that we saw a hirajiro (castle built upon a plain) surrounded by a moat and copse of cherry trees,  passed by a vermillion bridge, rode a rope way that showed a spectacular view of snow capped mountains and pine trees, crossed a hanging bridge to get to a traditional gassho zukuri farmhouse village, understood the significance of a UNESCO heritage site title, ate a traditional Japanese breakfast, slept in a tatami bedroom, wore yukatas, and took a hot bath in an onsen!

20170412_094124.jpgMatsumoto Castle: an animated cardboard cut-out greets the visitors.

A 16th century practice: Japanese castles were mounted upon stone walls and provided with moat defenses.

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 TWIrista group lounging under a cherry tree

Takayama17798964_10211171031804006_5400751153379798973_n.jpg As we were on the way to the Nakabashi bridge, a couple was having their   wedding pictorial.

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Mr. Jaison Yang, Travel Warehouse Inc. President, loving the spring season at Takayama

 

 

Hotaka

20170412_134735.jpgThe Japanese Alps: View from the Shin Hotaka Ropeway 

group photo

Our TWIrista group

(standing, left to right) Atty. Art Bernales, Atty. Kat Legarda, Manuel Llana, Pong Evarista, Atty. Susan Villanueva,  Atty. Iris Bonifacio, Atty. Joey Ochave,

(kneeling, left to right) Mr. Weny Cua, Mrs. Tess Cua, Atty. Mona Dimalanta, (middle) Becca Dimalanta, Pita Ochave, Atty. Loys Sicam, and Mr. Jaison Yang.

 

 

Hotakasa Hotel 

17883869_10211164419638706_7895050003612167959_n.jpgHotel façade: A modern touch with traditional interiors

17903782_10211164417918663_8274859508335708874_n.jpg    Inside the hotel: Tatami Bedroom

17879958_10211169655649603_8359843574127460921_o.jpgTraditional Japanese breakfast served in the hotel.

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Mr. Weny and Mrs. Tess Cua wearing yukatas.

17862843_10211164418118668_5975307986474304528_n.jpg      From the hotel: Overlooking the Hotakasa mountains

17862634_10211164419118693_3654446558399027286_n.jpgAtty. Legarda’s R&R in the onsen.

 

What we found most interesting in Gifu was the Ogimachi village in Shirakawago region. Each house in the village was called a “gassho zukuri” house which meant “constructed like hands in prayer” because of the shape of its roof. Some houses were also converted into minshukus, a bed and breakfast that welcomed tourists for an overnight stay, and museums. We are ultimately grateful to see this other side of Japan!

20170413_133843.jpgReferential map of the Ogimachi Village

20170413_134943.jpgHanging bridge going to the Ogimachi Village

17883910_10211172051629501_8638444095328370385_n.jpg    Gassho Zukuri farmhouse

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Koinobori (carp streamer)

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Despite the cold, we didn’t want to miss out on the soft served whilst taking in this ineffable view.

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Comparatively, traveling through the prefectures of Japan, Tokyo embraced technological advancement in its establishments where places of heritage are interspersed amidst modernized architecture and bustling citizens. Gifu, on the other hand,  preserved tradition passed on from generations, continuously reminding the Japanese people of their roots and making use of modernization as a mechanism for tourism.

Perhaps, these places are a reflection of the Japanese’s respect for tradition and change, conserving old infrastructure and at the same time encouraging innovation. Because of the initiative of Travel Warehouse Inc. (www.twi.com.ph) in organizing our itinerary, we were able to experience the best of both worlds, even for six days, one that opened our hearts to the capital of Japan and the other, to the wonders of a countryside.

We would love to take another Japan tour soon! Maybe Kyoto-Osaka next?

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