Saturday, July 4, 2009

Subarashii Takasaki

Before leaving for my trip, I was a little bit worried that I might be disappointed. Last year’s trip was simply unbeleivable and would be hard to surpass. After yesterday’s amazing day, I have no more doubts. This year’s trip is already as (if not more) amazing then last year’s.
Today was our first official TOURIST day. Marie does not work on the weekend so we planned do as much sightseeing as possible together. The very first place I wanted to go to was Takasaki! Most of you probably heard about out amazing encounter last year with one of the most known artist-painter of darumas. He had been so nice to us last year, this year we were going to bring him a little gift (omiage) from Canada.

Takasaki is about an hour away from where my sister lives and is known for his umeboshi (plums). It is not a city tourist go to although it has lots to offer from a culinary and cultural stand point.
Yesterday morning, I was wide awake at 5:30 am. I waited for Marie to get up at around 8 and after breakfast we left for the train station. We got to Takasaki at around 12 and we went straight to the temple. Once more there were only a few people. We took some pictures, bought some omikuji daruma (fortune teller) and started walking to the Daimonya (Factory).

For the first time since we I arrived in Japan, it was not raining!! Yeah!! The sun even peak out from behind the clouds a few time. We got to the factory and we were a little bit scared the old man wouldn’t be there. I went straight to the workshop door and took a peek. There he was working… I ask one of the girl working there if she could ask him to come out. The old man seemed really surprised. And then he recognized us. What a relief. We gave him out gift from Canada and we chatted a bit. He was so surprised. He couldn’t believe we had come all this way to thank him for last year!!! He was also happy to know that Marie was now living in Japan. He asked why Tristan wasn’t there. I explained to him he had to work ;-)
While we chatted with my broken Japanese, he had sit down and had one of the girl bring cold ice tea. I showed him the pictures of my kids making Daruma and he was really amused by it. And then the magic began… after about half an hour of chatting, we went around the store and I choose to buy a manekineko. He lowered the price and then gave me a bunch of blank Daruma to pain!!! Then we walked us to a garden outside to show us giant lotus flowers!! It was my first time seeing them. I can’t believe how big it is. He then offered to drive us back to the train station, but I explained to him that this time we had plan to visit the rest of the city so he didn’t need to do that for us…  
Well…. He took us on a grand tour of the city!!! From the mountain top garden to the Byakui Kannon and then (as if it wasn’t enough) he brought us to his daughter’s store ( a very fined Kimono making store) so we could have traditional Japanese green tea and mochi! It truly was delicious. His daughter was so pretty all dressed up in her kimono and spoke french!! A few years back she had studied in Paris. She was really happy to practice.
Once more our trip to Takasaki this year was unbelievable. I didn’t go in all the details but I feel truly fortunate to have had such an amazing experience to year in a row!!


  1. Hello,
    I read your message more than three years after you wrote it. I am french and live very near to Gunma Prefecture. I was quite decided to go to Takasaki and see Daruma's factory. Your beautiful story with the craftsman and your pictures make my wish stronger !

    1. Bonjour! Je suis bien contente que mon histoire t'inspire a aller visiter Takasaki ;-) C'est un endroit que j'aime beaucoup au Japon et pour cette raison j'y suis retournee trois fois ;-)

      Si tu en fais la demande, tu peux faire un atelier pour peinturer ton propre Daruma. La manufacture est a peu pres a cinq minutes du temple. Alors les deux se font tres bien en une journee. Par contre le temple et la manufacture sont loin de la station de train. Il faut prendre l'autobus qui passe par l'hopital et fait le tour de la ville... alors il faut compter beaucoup de temps. Si tu decides d'y aller, laisse moi savoir! Et surtout n'oublie pas de partager ton experience sur ton blog ;-)

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