Postcards from Gujo-Hachiman, Japan

I wrote about Gujo-Hachiman here and have added some photos.

Trains from Tokyo to Gujo-Hachiman include the super fast shinkansen (bullet train) and the ambling single carriage local train that finally takes you to the town.

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The shinkansen is even faster than it looks.
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A slow local train allows the traveller to savour the journey

Once in Gujo-Hachiman it’s time to slow down further, to stroll through the old part of town, admiring the centuries old wooden houses, the Shinto temples identified by their torii (entrance gate), to mingle with the relaxed locals, and find water everywhere.

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Strolling in Gujo-Hachiman brings rewards
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The old part of Gujo-Hachiman
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Another torii (the entrance gate between the profane and the sacred) welcomes you to a Shinto temple in the back streets

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Water is truly everywhere. The river flows through the centre of town, joined by numerous streams and canals descending from the hills. They provide the music of moving water, from tinkling and trickling sounds, to louder gushing, and the higher crescendo of the river’s waterfalls and runs.

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Pure water to drink

 

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This is the memorial to the fire victims of 1652.  If you are curious, more is revealed by the link above

After taking in the sights of town, a reasonably steep climb up the hill brings the visitor to the (restored) 16th century castle with its fine view over the valley and surrounding forested hills.

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The road from the castle to the town

Gujo-Hachiman is a delight.

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Hong Kong Musings

Hong Kong is an orphan in many ways, disconnected from China by colonisation and the culture of colonial rule. It was a British prize of the Opium Wars in 1841, that disgraceful era when government trading in human misery, including drugs and slavery, was a feature of many of the then most advanced and richest countries in the world.

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My Hong Kong visits have usually been on the way to or from mainland China, with a resulting impression that Hong Kong is Asia Lite, an unchallenging place where westerners can experience a touch of the foreign but always be comfortable and close to their needs and desires.

Hong Kong is renowned for shopping. I always prefer a local market to the up-market marbled air-conditioned shopping malls that breed in capital cities throughout the world and feed off the modern fetish for brand names. The photo was taken at an unheralded and unfashionable neighbourhood market on Hong Kong island amongst the jumble of  local housing.

While publicity about Hong Kong frequently highlights examples of economic dynamism, the extremely wealthy, and expensive house prices, less focus is on the gap between the rich and poor, which is one of the widest in the world. This inequality was a major motivation behind the pro-democracy protests in 2014, the year I last visited.

I encountered the market in the photo while using the Central-Mid Levels escalator and walkway system, a free and excellent way to explore and enjoy the views as you ascend the sometimes steep slopes to 135 metres above the harbour. The economical and efficient ferries, trains and buses add to the ease of travel, essential for locating the best food and places of interest.

This is my contribution to Tiffin’s A-Z Guidebook, this month starting with the letter H.

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