From Nagoya 名古屋 to Takayama 高山 in Winter

Last weekend, I drove down to Nagoya to listen to some music. Nagoya is almost directly south from Takayama. When taking the Express Way, it's pretty much direct. Just go south, and you're nearly there. It's about a 2 1/2 hour drive, so I compare it to a drive from Madison, WI to Chicago.

However, there is one huge difference between those two drives: elevation. Takayama sits in an open plateau on the west end of the Japanese alps surrounded by some of the tallest mountains in Japan. Nagoya is a port city near the Pacific Ocean. So while the temperature drops, and the snow begins to fall in Takayama, it's still Autumn down in Nagoya.

And the drive between Takayama and Nagoya highlights these seasonal changes in a mere 2 hour span. I took photos on the way down, and on the way back. Here's my trip on the way back:

In Nagoya, it was partly cloudy. This was at 11:00am. The sky wasn't a pure blue, but there were breaks that let the sun shine through. As I got out of the main urban sprawl of Nagoya into Ichinomiya, I was traveling directly north, and pointed towards a storm.

Those road signs above mention that at Seki and Minokamo 美濃加茂, there are safety checks to ensure drivers are properly applying and using chains on their tires. It was still totally clear.

I crossed prefectural lines into Gifu-ken 岐阜県. As I approached Seki, I entered the storm.

As the snow raged, it immediately melted when it touched the ground. I was still south enough where the ground was warm.

As I continued, the houses began showing snow collecting on the roofs. I reached Minokamo, and all traffic was diverted into the rest area. Traffic officials were present to check cars for winter tires and chains, and help anyone putting chains on their tires. After returning to the Express Way, snow began to collect on the ground.

The roads were still totally safe. They were treated enough to melt the snow on contract and keep the traffic moving at a brisk pace.

I passed through Gujo Hachiman, and then reached Gujo Yamato.

Snow was definitely beginning to pile along the sides of the roads. But still no ice.

Past Gujo Hachiman 郡上八幡, the exits are as follows: Gujo Yamato 郡上大和, Shirotori 白鳥, Takasu 高鷲, Hiragano Kogen ひらがの高原, Shokawa 荘川, and Hida Kiyomi 飛騨清見. Gujo City's area continues to Hiragano Kogen, and Shokawa is when you finally reach the Hida Area, and Takayama City.

Once you pass Shirotori, the two-lane express way turns into a single lane. This is also to point when you enter the most snow-ridden areas (and the best ski areas) of Gifu prefecture.

Lots of snow accumulation, and some ice has begun to form on the road.

Past Takasu, and leading into Hiragano Kogen, the ice begins to grow and take over the road.

Past Hiragano Kogen, and heading into the Takayama City Limits, ice and snow has completely overtaken the road. Travel is pretty slick, but not completely intraversable. The snow packs and creates enough friction to turn and stop. Plus, my kei-car naturally drags, so I can slow down fast enough if I need to.

Once past Shokawa, though, the snow starts to let up a little bit, and the accumulation on the road isn't as great. Takayama has quite a bit of snow, but it's not too bad.

Within the city proper, it's pretty close to 0 degrees, so the snow is easy to shovel and move away. The roads are mostly clear of snow, too. I arrived home around 1:00pm.

It's pretty crazy to think that a mere 2 hours away down south, it was probably still sunny, and completely free of any precipitation. If this were a drive from Madison to Chicago, the weather would be almost identical. Living in the mountains is amazing. We're in our own little winter wonder world up here away from the rest of civilization. :)

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