Since Takayama is far from the ocean in mountain country, and with transportation difficult in earlier times, obtaining goods from the ocean, in particular, was difficult. On top of that, because of the severity of the hard conditions of the long winter, the eating habits of the people of Hida were “Miso with nothing, only pickled vegetables.” Therefore, housewives became especially skilled in using miso. Hida miso, developed under these circumstances is not only used as a condiment, but also as a side dish as an important source of protein; it is food with the unique flavor of Hida.
Hoba Miso is a famous dish from this region of Japan. Magnolia leaves roast over a charcaol brazier. These leaves are topped with miso, leeks ans shiitake mushrooms. Hida beef is also sometimes added. It cooks away and is a popular snack alongside sake or as a side dish.
Takayama’s cuisine is very different from that of Tokyo, Kyoto and southern Japan. Takayama, being a land-locked area, had to depend on the mountains and rivers for its raw materials. Due to this reason the local people created a number of unique dishes – unique in the ingredients they use and in the flavours of the dishes.
One typical local cuisine of Takayama is “SAN-SAI”. San-sai means mountain vegetables such as edible ferns and other wild plants. Said to be both nourishing and delicious these mountains vegetables often have distinctive flavours. San-sai is said to be most delicious when cooked with the rich local miso. This miso is another local dish not to be missed.
“San-sai ryori” is a meal consisting of the mountain vegetables in miso with river fish grilled with salt or soy sauce. It’s a healthy meal and a typical meal of this region.
Takayama¡¯s cuisine is very different from that of Tokyo, Kyoto and southern Japan. Takayama, being a land-locked area, had to depend on the mountains and rivers for its raw materials. Due to this reason the local people created a number of unique dishes ¨C unique in the ingredients they use and in the flavours of the dishes.
Like many of Japan's mountainous districts, Takayama also has its own¡¡variety of "soba". Soba are noodles made from buckwheat. These noodles are frequently hand -made at the restaurant where you eat them and served in various ways, hot or cold. Soba is often eaten as a light lunch or as part of an evening meal.
Sarubobo is a little faceless monkey made of fabric in various colours, although red is the most common one. It is a good luck charm given to children. In Takayama it is a custom that Grandmother's make Sarubobo for their grandchildren to keep them safe and healthy.
These little monkeys can be found in almost every shop in the village. They also come in Hello Kitty versions and other famous manga characters.
Before coming to Takayama all ricefields I had seen had been while swooshing past them seated on Shinkansen. But here I got the chance to have a closer look while walking out of town on my way to the Mahikari World Shrine and Hida Folk Village.
The afternoon sun was reflected in the water. The mountains rose in the background, still covered in snow. A beautiful scenery indeed.
You will see the faceless Sarubobo Doll EVERYWHERE in Takayama, as it is a special product of Hida Takayama. These dolls are a kind of charm, which Grandmothers make for grandchildren as dolls, and for daughters for good marriage, good child, and being a well-rounded couple.
We noticed a lot of different types of Sarubobo dolls in Takayama - all sorts of colours, styles and shapes. Apparently the colours mean different things:
* Blue Sarubobo for luck in study and work;
* Pink Sarubobo for luck in love;
* Green Sarubobo for luck in health; and
* Yellow Sarubobo for luck in money.
In the mornings older women set up stalls along the riverbank selling local products. I'd say it's more of a curiosity for tourists to walk by and look at, rather than an opportunity to buy anything- unless you want to buy locally harvested mushrooms, scallions, etc.
The Miyagawa bridge is home to two strange statues - the long arm "Tenaga zuchi zou" and long leg man "Ashinaga zuchi zou".