Japan – Day 9 (10.5)
I left the hotel at 7am, and took a train down to Shinagawa for the third day in a row.
On the 9th day, I was heading out further from Tokyo than I had ever gone before, to Hida-Takayama, in the Gifu Prefecture.
Getting to Gifu involved taking a Shinkansen to Nagoya, and then transferring to the Wide View Hida, to Takayama. Including the wait time for each train, the trip would take around 5 hours, so I was prepared to catch up on sleep.
This is the platform for the Wide View Hida. I bought some breakfast and ate while I waited for the train.
Aboard the Wide View Hida! It’s the most luxurious train I’ve ever been on, and the seats are more comfortable than the Shinkansen. Without the rail pass, the ride would have costed about $70USD, one way.
It’s apparently called the ‘Wide View’ because of it’s large, panoramic windows. Apparently, the left hand side offers a more scenic view, but I didn’t know that then.
There was an announcement that the train would be travelling backwards for part of the way. It didn’t matter to me because I fell asleep as soon as the train started moving, but it was a strange feeling sitting in a train going backwards.
When I woke up, I was already out of the city and in the suburbs again!
I think this is some kind of cement plant? I’m not sure but it looks cool!
There were nothing but fields, telephone poles and small houses. Somewhere along the way, I saw cows grazing on the field! Having been born and raised in the city, I realized that I had never seen a real cow before. The train was moving too fast for me to get a good picture though.
There was an announcement after an hour or so, which informed the passengers about a mountain gorge that was coming up on the left. Not having anything to do, I took a seat on the left and switched on my camera.
It was gorgeous! Too bad about the reflection, though.
It felt like I was taking a trip out to the great outdoors, but the reason why I was going to Takayama was very different ^^;
After passing several stations with interesting names (There was a station called Nagisa!), I arrived at Takayama. It was almost 1pm.
It’s a popular tourist destination even among the Japanese people.
One of the train cars are removed at this station before it moves on to the next. I’m not sure why this is done, though.
The view right outside the station!
There’s a tourist information stand right outside the station. I picked up two walking maps (In English and Japanese) and went on my way.
I had to get my bearings, so I relied on Google Maps to find my way around first. While most of the tourists headed in the direction of the popular attractions of Hida Takayama, I went in the direction of the residential area.
After walking for some time while consulting Google Maps, I finally found the place I was looking for!
Hida-Takayama is the town Hyouka is based on! (・∀・)
These scenes, from episode 2, are from the surroundings of Houtarou’s house.
You’ve got to hand it to Kyoto Animation for recreating these spaces and scenery so perfectly!
In the anime, Houtarou’s house is right in front of this shrine, but-
It was an empty lot. (It’s supposed to be where the large boulder is).
On the way to my next stop, there was this lovely red lacquered bridge!
There are many bridges in Takayama, as a river runs through the center of the town.
And this was my second stop! Pineapple Sand, or also known in real life as Bagpipe!
The interior has a very quaint feel to it.
The moment I stepped into this cafe, it felt like I had walked into that episode of Hyouka…!
I took a seat by the counter so I could take pictures of the interior.
The poster for the Takayama Festival (Kamiyama Festival in the anime) was still there, so I got lucky! It was for the Takayama Autumn Festival, which is well known for being one of the most beautiful festivals in Japan. Unfortunately, it falls on the 9th and 10th of October, and I was going back on the 8th.
The first thing I noticed after sitting down at the counter was this autographed board…
It’s autographed by the voice actors! From top right, Satou Satomi (Chitanda Eru), Nakamura Yuuichi (Oreki Houtarou), Kayano Ai (Ibara Mayaka) and Sakaguchi Daisuke (Fukube Satoshi)!
I really like Nakamura Yuuichi, so I was very happy to see his autograph there.
There were posters on the pillar next to where I was sitting. One was for a Hyouka doujinshi/fan event to be held in Takayama (I read a few reports on it, and I regretted not being able to go…), and the other was a promotional flyer for the anime.
I was trying my best to be discreet, but being the only customer in the shop, and taking pictures of the interior probably made me look rather suspicious…
After taking my order, the barista asked if I was here because of Hyouka. I guess it was obvious, after all! She was very friendly, though, and we talked a bit about travelling and stuff.
The same coffee Houtarou ordered in the anime!
And Matcha cake. It was delicious.
There was also a notebook for Hyouka fans to write in, just like the one at Kamo-sou.
There were many messages and sketches from fans from all over Japan who had made the trip to Takayama too! There weren’t many people from overseas, though I believe I saw a few messages from Taiwan.
I decided to leave a message in the notebook too. I ordered a cup of Vienna Coffee out of curiosity, and she put it in the cup Chitanda used in the anime!
According to her, Chitanda was drinking cocoa in that episode. Maybe I should have ordered cocoa instead…!
And this is what I left in the notebook ↓
After relaxing in the cafe, I left to explore the rest of Takayama.
Family Mart blending in with it’s rustic surroundings.
Most of us would recognize this stretch of road from the opening of Hyouka.
It was fun recognizing all these new yet familiar sights! I wanted to try balancing like Satoshi did, but I was alone and it would be embarrassing.
You could go down to the riverbank for a stroll, too.
More sights from the opening-
Further downstream was yet another bridge – Fudoubashi, which was in the second arc of the anime (Both the second opening and in the Valentine’s chocolate episode).
And this was from the episode where Chitanda walks back with Houtarou from the library.
Continuing straight along the river, I started to see students on their way home from school. Which could only mean one thing…!
Going against the flow of students, I found myself nearing the main setting of Hyouka…
Kamiyama High School! In real life, it’s called the Gifu Prefectural Hida High School (Hida High).
The familiar school sign!
There were many students going home, and some at their club activities. I really wanted to go inside for a look, but the school grounds are off-limits to visitors, so I stayed outside and took pictures.
At the risk of sounding like a delusional fangirl, it felt like I had wandered into the world of Hyouka!
This path was used as the main visual on the official Hyouka website.
It was also used in episode 1 ↓
There were students playing baseball.
More scenes from the anime-
The post-box from episode 5.
Some of the shops along the street had Hyouka posters on display, and merchandise for sale! I had already bought most of the merchandise from the KyoAni shop a few days back, but I ended up buying a notebook there.
The owner of the shop was this pleasant old man, and he was about to put my purchase in an ordinary bag when he suddenly changed his mind and gave me a KyoAni shopping bag instead, and said, “This is more suitable, right?” (´∀｀*)
Hida High uniforms at the local tailor.
From episode 1-
I was looking for the Hyouka corner in the shopping street, and had a lot of trouble locating it even after asking for directions. I realized that I had been walking past it the whole time.
It was a grocery and souvenir shop, but the back of the shop was taken over by Hyouka displays! The large Houtarou and Eru panels were from the recent Hida High cultural festival.
There was a walking map with locations from the anime marked out with screencaps. This would have been helpful if I had found it earlier! It is also available here.
Another display from the Hida High Cultural Festival. Someone had recreated the club noticeboard from Episode 1!
And under the baseball club recruitment notice was…
They had also brought a table and chair from Hida High as a part of the display. It was for visitors to use when writing in the notebooks!
It was complete with Satoshi’s pencil-shaped pencil case and kinchaku.
I got to work again (｀･ω･´)
While I was drawing, a couple came by and complimented my Houtarou sketch…! We started talking about Hyouka a little, and I found out that they were both Takayama locals. The man was apparently a Hida High graduate, and was one year below Yonezawa Honobu (The author of Hyouka) as a student!
According to him, the “Why didn’t she ask EBA” arc was based on a real experience at Hida High, as there was really a badly made murder mystery movie that year at their school festival. The lady who was with him then laughed and said, “He’s been telling everyone and won’t shut up about it!”. I thought it was a wonderful anecdote, though!
I had to censor off the bit with my name ^^;
They were already on their third notebook. I hope they’ll scan and archive it online some day! I didn’t have the time to read all the messages.
It was getting late, so I left for the train station. I bought an ekiben and ate it on the way back. I didn’t get to try any of that famous Gifu beef! (´・ω・)
I’ll definitely want to go back there again, and this time I’ll go to the library, the onsen and the shrine too. One day…!
I spent most of the ride back sleeping. It was pitch black outside, because there aren’t any lights out in the suburbs. It was peaceful, in a way.
The next part will be the last trip report. Thank you for reading!