On Shingo’s (hostel owner) recommendation, I got up early to visit Miyagawa Morning Market. It’s a food and crafts market that is open daily along the Miyagawa River in the old part of Hida-Takayama town.
Rows of stalls and shops lined the river and it was a cacophony of activity. Mingling among the vendors were locals and tourists alike, each picking their way through fresh fruits and vegetables, handmade crafts and gifts and traditional Japanese foods. Tons of dried and pickled foods and sweets were available for you to taste (something I completely adore about Japan) before you buy them. Intricate origami creations, such as umbrellas and insects, caught my eye.
Interestingly enough, I came across lots of red doll charms that I later found out are sarubobo (baby monkey). These are good luck charms specific to Takayama that grandmothers give to their daughters and granddaughters wishing them protection from bad things, a happy marriage or an easy child birth.
Nowadays, sarubobo are common souvenirs for those visiting Takayama. The monkeys are faceless and come in a variety of colors depending on what you need. Their gifts have expanded to include good luck in studying and tests, love, good health, wealth and warding off bad luck.