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Hida-Takayama has preserved the feeling of a castle town, apparent by its history-filled streets. With the latticed bay windows and linked eaves of merchants' houses in Sanmachi Suji, the enduring historical temples and shrines of Higashiyama, and the reproduction of Hida's traditional mountain farming villages of sloped-roof houses at Hida Folk Village, the town itself could be called a sightseeing spot. The Takayama festival held in spring and fall is known as one of the three most beautiful festivals of Japan (the other two are the Gion Festival of Kyoto and the Chichibu Night Festival of Saitama Prefecture). Ornate floats crafted by Hida artisans are pulled around, and Takayama becomes truly energetic. When visiting Takayama, you can certainly savor the arts and culture of traditional craftsmen while enjoying the feel of the ancient city.
The eight islands of Japan sprang into existence through Divine Intervention.The first two gods who came into existence were Izanagi no Mikoto and Izanami no Mikoto, the Exalted Male and Exalted Female. It was their job to make the land for people to live on.They went to the bridge between heaven and earth and, using a jewel-encrusted halberd, Izanagi and Izanami churned up the sea into a frothy foam. As salty drips of water fell from the tip of the halberd the first island was formed. Its name was Onogoro.So far, so good. But when Izanagi and Izanami first met on their island, Izanami spoke to Isanagi without being spoken to first. Since she was the female, and this was improper, their first union created badly-formed offspring who were sent off into the sea in boats.The next time they met, Izanagi was sure to speak first, ensuring the proper rules were followed, and this time they produced eight children, which became the islands of Japan.I'm sure you did not fail to miss the significance of this myth for the establishment of Japanese formal society.At present, Japan is the financial capital of Asia. It has the second largest economy in the world and the largest metropolitan area (Tokyo.)Technically there are three thousand islands making up the Japanese archipelago. Izanagi and Izanami must have been busy little devils with their jewelled halberd...Japan's culture is highly technical and organized. Everything sparkles and swooshes on silent, miniaturized mechanisms.They're a world leader in robotics, and the Japanese have the longest life-expectancy on earth.Text by Steve Smith.