JAPAN JAUNT 2016 – DAY 6 & 7: KUROBE GORGE & SHINMINATO FISHERY

Monday, 31 October 2016:

The grandeur and beauty of the Japanese Alpine route is impressive. I supposed any other scenery from hence would be an anticlimax. From Tateyama we went to visit the nearby Kurobe Gorge still in the northern part of the Japanese Alps. There is a railway that operates along the scenic gorge area in Toyama Prefecture. This railway used to serve the construction of the Kurobe Dam but now it brought tourists like me to take a one and a half hours’ train ride through forested ravines with steep cliffs, scores of bridges and tunnels.

Waiting for the train. (Credits: Ruby)
Waiting for the train – one of the few privately owned train companies.(Credits: Ruby)
The train cars were open sided.
The train cars were open sided.(Credits: Ruby)
Pine trees along the train tracks (Credits: Judith)
Pine trees along the train tracks (Credits: Judith)
Steep cliffs and ravines on both sides of river. (Credits: Judith)
Steep cliffs on both sides of river. (Credits: Judith)
One of the many bridges along the route. (Credits: Ruby)
The most outstanding of the many bridges along the route. (Credits: Ruby)
The turquoise waters of Kurobe river below the ravine. (Credits: Ruby)
The turquoise waters of Kurobe river below the ravine. (Credits: Ruby)
A small dam along the Kurobe River (Credits: Ruby)
A small dam along the Kurobe River (Credits: Ruby)
Another view of the orange train (Credits: Ruby)
Another view of the orange coloured train (Credits: Ruby)
At the terminal we got off and went down to explore the river (Credits: Ruby)
At the terminal we got off and went down to explore the river (Credits: Ruby)

 

 

They love their bridges in red
They love their bridges in red – is it some regulation I wonder.
It got cold later in the day what with the open sided car (Credits: Ruby)
It got cold later in the day what with the open sided car (Credits: Ruby)
Small bathrooms with petite bathtubs. I love to soak and do so at every opportunity
Small bathrooms with petite bathtubs. I love to soak and do so at every opportunity

We sat in the open-sided car. It was cheaper but colder. The ride to the terminal Keyakidaira Station was interesting. We got off and walked down to the river and explored the area. Later I felt tired and bored as I anticipated the predictable return trip on the same route.  When the day was over, with great relief, I soaked myself in the bathtub of the Grand Terrace Hotel in Toyama. I love these petite bathtubs. Every hotel we have been has one. Not the inns or guesthouses, but the hotels. My custom is to fill it and soak in it to mull over the day with thanksgiving.

I am quite excited about the next day: we visit an auction at a fishing port, and probably indulge in super fresh seafood at reasonable prices. I drooled as I contemplated that in the bathtub. Just kidding.

Tuesday, 1 November 2016:

The breakfast buffet spread catered to Japanese and Western taste buds. I felt great relief that I could have a slow and laid back breakfast, and that we would be anchored in this hotel for three days and three nights. Unlike the biblical Jonah’s experience in the whale’s belly hotel, ours would not be queasy.

The tourist train at Takaoke (Credits: Judith)
The tourist train at Takaoka (Credits: Judith)
Small and lovely market at the fishery
Small and lovely market at the fishery
Eyeing the crab
Eyeing the crab
Handling the crab (Credits:Judith)
Handling the crab (Credits:Judith)
Eating the crab
Eating the crab

 

Different size different price
Different size different price
What a great lunch - cold crabs and sashimi galore
What a great lunch – cold crabs and sashimi galore (Credits: Helen)
Smiles and oishi all round (Credits: Ruby)
Smiles and oishi all round (Credits: Helen)
Young and yummy yellowtail sashimi
Young and yummy yellowtail sashimi (Credits: Judith)
Showing us the way to devour the crab
Showing us the way to extract the flesh
Red was the favourite colour of the day
Red was the favourite colour of the day

From Toyama we set off for Takaoka, and from there to the Shinminato Fishery at Imizu city. The slight drizzle did not dampen our mood. The aim was to watch a crab auction at the fishery. The unspoken bigger aim was to devour as much fresh crab and shashimi as our stomachs allowed. We were not disappointed. Except we wished we had bigger appetites and stomachs.

The crabs were all laid out in rows and groups
The crabs were all laid out in rows and groups
The viewing gallery was a long balcony 20 feet above the warehouse floor
The viewing gallery was a long balcony 20 feet above the warehouse floor
The Tans
The Tans
Junior school kids waiting in excitement
Junior school kids waiting in excitement
The buyers gathered around
The buyers gathered around the auctioneer
Te auctioneer used a loud hailer and the buyers used hand signals
Te auctioneer used a loud hailer and the buyers used hand signals
Washing up after the crabs were sold
Washing up after the crabs were sold and taken
Helen trying to speak in English to the Japanese pupils
Helen trying to speak in English to the Japanese pupils
Outside the ware house the buyers transport away their buys of the day
Outside the ware house the buyers transport away their buy of the day
Standing in front of the zen temple
Standing in front of the zen temple
Tan standing beside the statue of
Tan standing beside the statue of Maeda Toshinaga a daimyo (ranked below shogun)

We next intended to visit a zen temple. We braved cold and drizzle but at the temple entrance we discovered none were interested to go in. A group photo outside would do! Our enthusiasm petered out over the afternoon until, like all other Singaporeans, we entered the Aeon Shopping Mall, when everyone suddenly and miraculously seemed to be re-charged. They darted and zipped around like toys with newly inserted Duracell batteries . My wife and I had birthdays in late November so we decided to skip surprises and be pragmatic: I chose a blue shoulder sling bag, and she chose a red travel bag for our birthdays. Double happiness. I have grown to admire Japanese design and quality values, and some of their stuff cost less over there.

Inside the shinkansen, Japan's speed rail. For me and some others a first time.
Inside the shinkansen, Japan’s speed rail. For me and some others a first time.(Credits: Judith)

The hour was late and we rode the speed rail back to Toyama. It cost us a hand. We had no choice. A damp but most satisfying day, I thought, as I sank into another soak that night. The next day would be alluring: an UNESCO World Heritage site.

 

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