Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Day 16 - Happy Birthday Rob!

Rob and I woke up this morning and talked for a bit before I remembered – Happy Birthday Rob! Since we’ve been together, Rob has spent his birthday in Big Sur, Bryce National Park, Florence, Falling Water, and now Takayama. Lucky guy!

Kanchan was our guide today, and she had one tourist destination planned and a whole bunch of non-tourist things as well. We first went to go pick up some extra suitcases she has… because we already had a ton of shopping that we were going to send ahead to the airport. That’s one of the great conveniences of Japan – there are delivery services that will ship your luggage anywhere for a very reasonable fee – I think they sent our suitcases for about $15 each. We took a group photo commemorating the view.

Our first stop was Hida no Sato, an outdoor folk museum made up of traditional houses that were relocated to the sight. It was a great chance to see the houses inside and out. As we parked, Rob saw a huge maneki neko and had to take a photo.

The views in the village were beautiful.

There were fires set up in the houses that added to the atmosphere.

They had two gassho zukuri houses like we saw in Shirakawago.

One had a loom set up inside – I want one!

There were many other types of houses, as well as a proud swan who kept swimming by us and showing off.

After the folk village, Kanchan took us to that most unique of tourist destinations – the supermarket. Her supermarket had rooftop parking with a spectacular view.

The market sold everything from beer…

…to kimonos, and everything in between.

We separated and met in 45 minutes - I was especially taken with their fabric section and spent my entire time there. Afterwards, we said to each other, “They had a bookstore? They had a bakery? They had lingerie?” It was really quite fun!

As usual, we stopped for lunch, and Rob was thrilled with the seating arrangement.

Mainly because he finally had a place to put his legs.

Kanchan ordered the lunch set for us, and it was another generously sized meal.

Afterwards, we visited Kouichisan at his work, a furniture manufacturer called Hida Sangyo. They build all types of furniture, and they recently showed at ICFF in New York and won the Craftsmanship prize. As we toured the showroom, we were all impressed by the level of design and finishing of the furniture. One of Kouichisan’s co-workers, a young woman named Mayu, helped with the translation. She had spent one year as an exchange student in Minnesota and her English was far better than my Japanese. She was also an excellent guide and was very knowledgeable about the furniture, mainly because she was required to work in the factory before starting her job in the business section of the office. We took a group photo in one of the showrooms.

Rob and Huay took many photos of their work, including their best-selling chair, and the furniture line that was presented at ICFF.

The factory tour was a highlight for Rob and Huay, because they both wanted to see how manufacturing methods differed from the States. It sounds boring, but even I found it very interesting.

For dinner, Kanchan bought a spread of sushi that was so delicious and beautiful. She told us that it was Kouichisan’s birthday a week ago, and she had forgotten to celebrate it, so we were having a joint party.

We ever had my favorite – ikura (salmon roe). I confessed to everyone that I used to steal ikura from the refrigerator late at night as a child and eat them one by one – yum!

It’s not a birthday without some cake!

We ended the night by taking a photo of the birthday boys.

Next – visiting more family, via car, bus, train, train, train, and short train.


yaiAnn said...

Happy (belated) Birthday Rob!!

goosefairy said...

I look forward to each of your posts. It makes me want to go to Japan so badly!

yumi said...

What great pictures of everything. Happy Birthday to both birthday boys!!!

MinaG said...

Love the furniture, that's my dream dining set! That's great that you got to tour the factory.