Hida Furukawa is a small town just 20 minutes north of Takayama by Japan Rail (JR)'s local train. Hida Furukawa, like Hida Takayama, is situated along the Miya River and are often referred to as “twins,” and both preserve the atmosphere of the Edo Period. However, it is not as well known and touristy as Takayama.
It featured a beautiful section of the old town with colourful carps swimming in the canals along the street. As a Koi enthusiast, this is something I must see since I am in the vicinity. From Takayama, I planned a short trip to Hida Furukawa taking the relatively frequent train into the Hida Furukawa train station. We arrived shortly after 1 PM. Leaving the small Hida Furukawa train station, we found the town practically deserted in the afternoon.
Hida Furukawa Train Station and the deserted streets.
We mae our way to the famed canals which was not far away. Bingo! There were indeed large Koi swimming in the clear and flowing waters of the canal. We also saw a few residents. Mostly elderly folks, with the younger folks mostly working somewhere outside of town.
The Koi were mostly chagoi and ogons. For me, it was quite disappointing not to see varieties like the sanke, showa, kohaku and other nicer varieties since Japan is the originator of fancy Koi varieties.
There were a few stations with vending machines where we can buy Koi food from.
One of the house had placed a container filled with bread for visitors to feed the Koi with. I feed the Koi with those instead.
The Koi were not very eager with the bread. They must be quite well fed.
One end of the canal lead from the river. It ran across the entire town to the other end where there were temples and shops.
Koi was introduced into these canals as part of the initiative to maintain a clean canals within the town. It worked. Koi needed fairly clean water to thrive and these canals, with water fed continuously from the nearby river, needed no artificial filtration to remove fish waste. Just pump water in from the river, put up some metal gratins to keep the Koi from escaping into the river and a natural balanced eco-system is created and maintained. Only possible in Japan.
The Koi all swam in a line, naturally against the current, much like the Koinobori I saw at the Miyagawa Morning Market in Takayama.
We went pass the Enkoji temple on one side and storehouses with white earth and mortar on the other side of the canals. There we saw a mother with a kid, enjoying the canal walk like us.
The other end of the canal with the shopping area and temples.
We came to the end of the canals and what seems to be the shopping area in Furukawa.
Besides the canals with Koi, Furukawa has also an old town with the look and free like Takayama but without the tourist crowds in the afternoon.
We decided to take the 3 PM train back to Takayama and did not explored Furukawa further. Furukawa also offered an interesting guided cycling tour by Satoyama Experience. My original plan was to do a half day cycling tour with them but decided to skip this.
Overall Hida Furukawa was worth a half day excursion from Takayama just to see the big and thriving Koi in the canals. Or to join a cycling tour for those who have not experienced the rural Japanese countryside with the beautiful rice paddies, mountains, villages and nice local folks.