We only managed to stay in Takayama for one night. There are two morning markets, “asaichi” in Takayama. We managed to arrive early at Miya- gawa morning market set beside the Miya-gawa River under cheery trees next to the red Kappabashi Bridge. Although small, it was atmospheric.
The order of the day was to get some breakfast. Somewhere in the middle, I spotted a poster advertising toast bread with coffee and a fruit salad with yogurt. A change from rice and noodles we have had every day. I just enquired to one of the two ladies in the restaurant and waited to find out more before ordering. We waited for quite a while before the lady re- appeared. She vanished again. Soon we found three plates of the breakfast set were laid on the table. Well, she assumed, being foreigners, that’s what we wanted. We just eat without complaint. Then we strolled on the single street in the cool morning air. The sun was already up and the sky blue. This market is basically an artisan market where local producers sold their wares directly to consumers. Some of the produce included fresh vegetables and fruits, handmade crunchy and nutty sweets, a colourful array of cut foliage and flowers, and a variety of handicrafts. My favourite was the assortment of mouth- watering vegetable pickles – made from cucumber, daikon, eggplant, cabbage, carrots and many more.
“A wonderful smell wafted through the air and it turned out to be someone selling Japanese marshmallows. We decided to try them and they tasted very nice and sweet” – Navindd
I loved the small bowls of pickles that accompanied many of our meals. The sweet, sour, vinegary, tangy and salty tastes created a wonderful explosion of flavours and intensity. As we walked around, samples are handed out – try before you buy. It’s a real pick- me up this early in the morning.
Several stalls offered cooked food. A lovely lady busily prepared the Japanese biscuits – “sanbei”, a cracker toasted with “teriyaki sauce”. A little salty and blend for me. We found these every wherein Japan. We bought some very sweet and crunchy biscuit – like a peanut brittle. The sugar content was enough to get us through the day. The day was turning out to be hot and sunny with blue skies.
There was a small commotion outside a stall. The operator, a small but congenial man had charisma and charm judging by the number of people waiting to buy his steaming yellow puffs. It looked like tofu but tasted like marshmallow. On the stall wall, these words were written –“Owara Tamaten – I pass when it beats an egg white and enter and cut the honey which came to the boil of sugar and agar to a pip after cooling it and soak it in the liquid which added sweet sake to and egg yolk, and it is the Japanese sweet that it is unusual which baked 6”.
An elderly man, like most local people here, did not speak English. He was a tailor. Typical Japanese clothing of all sizes hung above him as he sat on a low stool on one corner of this small stall. Undisturbed, he continued to sew one of the dresses. We eventually got his attention and purchased a toddler ”Jinbei”, a loose fitting outfit used typically in summer by males. Although the market is small, the atmosphere this morning was relaxed. Browsing from one shop to another was interesting. We tried some custard at a stall. It was delicious. Below, in the clear Miya-gawa River, fishes swam freely as a bird kept a keen eye on the surroundings. Takayama is a perfect place to unwind and soak in some old world charm. It was time for us to head back to the train station for our onward journey to Kiso Valley in Gifu Prefecture.