I left Yokohama on December 28th at 11:30 pm by car and headed up to Gifu. We drove the long way, which was via the Tomei Expressway through Izu and Aichi Prefecture then Nagoya where we took a break in order to reassess our bearings. By this time it was already 1:30am, and with very few love hotels in sight we continued our heading up another freeway where we ended up in a small town with three hotels. We got one, got some sleep, and woke up the next morning and continued our drive to Gifu. Our first destination before check in was a town called Shirakawa-go, a world heritage, famed for having houses with old thatched roofs. Visiting this place was a real treat. We stayed for four hours taking pictures of everything beautiful we could get our camera lenses adjusted on. I was dragging around a tripod and a backpack trying to maintain my balance on slippery ice frosted footpaths.
As the evening wore on, the temperature dropped significantly to below zero as winter’s icy breath began to sting our hands, so we quickly packed our things back into the car and headed back towards the freeway. Driving towards our destination we noticed a sudden burst of snowfall out of nowhere cover everything around us. I knew for a fact this was Gifu!
An hour into our drive I start loosing traction because I still have summer tires. So gradually I pulled over and turned my hazards on. By this time the sun had completely set leaving me with only the light of oncoming vehicles to put on my snow chains. I managed to chain all two front tires in less than ten minutes with the help of only three oncoming car lights.
Finally arriving at our ryoukan, three hours after check-in, we were greeted with smiles and eager hands waiting to carry our bags up to the room. I sighed a deep breath of release, flopped on the bed and exhaled. A few minutes later I enjoyed a nice onsen and a delicious meal. I stayed for two nights in this hotel.
Checking out on the 31st I was refreshed and ready to check into our other hotel which was right up the street. But we had five hours to kill, so we drove to Takayama city to enjoy some nice Hida Beef yakiniku, which is famed as some of the best beef in Japan. I rate it an 8 on a scale from 1 to 10. My all time favorite is Yonezawa Beef of Yamagata, though. If you are ever in the area you’ll find that there are many such shops all over Takayama city and I’ve been to all of them, but hands down the local favorite is the one in this picture: