Monday, March 15, 2010

Japanese Alps, please

This weekend, we decided to get one last taste of the snow by heading up to the Japanese Alps. The train ride in to Takayama was absolutely gorgeous. We arrived Friday evening and stayed at a hostel. In the morning, a hostel employee drove us to Shirakawago, an adorable village that was isolated from the rest Japan for a long time. We in fact had to drive through Japan's second longest tunnel (30 miles) just to get to the village. It's famous for this unique style of farm house designed to withstand the heavy snow the area receives. Each house has a thick triangular straw roof. You might notice there's no chimney. There is a large fire burning constantly in each house, and the homeowners discovered that the intense smoke prevented bugs from destroying the roof. It makes breathing difficult and every surface gets coated with black ash, but, hey, no bugs!