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Takayama, an old castle town called "Little Kyoto", lies in the ancient Hida District that is tucked away amidst the Japan Alps. With its traditional inns, shops, and sake breweries, Takayama is a city that has managed to preserve its past. It is also a place where exploration by foot is made easy. The JR Takayama line trains connect Takayama to most major towns. Bus services are available, but they are rather steeply priced. Car rentals are a good alternative if your party is big enough. Various car rental companies have offices at, or near, the railway station.


Otherwise known as the Manor House of the Edo Period, Takayama-jinya is an excellent example of Edo Period architecture. The estate is worth visiting to see how authorities ruled at that time. It also houses the oldest and largest rice granary in Japan, a garden, and even a torture chamber with explanatory details. The morning market is held in front of the house every day. A variety of fresh vegetables are spread out on straw mats, and a day at Takayama will start off with this market.

Sanmachi Suji (Sanmachi Quarters)

Sanmachi is a gem of old houses that have been carefully preserved on three streets: Ichi-no-Machi, Ni-no-Machi, and San-no-Machi. These three streets are lined with traditional shops, breweries, restaurants, museums, and some private houses. Some of these establishments have even been named as "Important Cultural Property". Several houses are open to the public, with the Kusakabe's house as the most popular. A stroll around this quarter will bring about the flavor of feudal days.

Hida Folk Village

The Hida Folk Village extends over a wide area at the foot of Mt Matsukura. It features numerous traditional houses, which once belonged to craftspeople and farmers in the Takayama region. This museum is made up of the Hida-no-sato Village (western section) and Hida Minzokukan or folklore museum (eastern section). Both sections are connected part of the way by a pleasant walk through fields.

The Hida-no-Sato in the west comprises of 12 traditional houses and a building made up of five traditional buildings with artisans demonstrating folk arts and crafts. This makes an excellent opportunity to witness the rural life of previous centuries.

Hida Minzokukan (Hida Folklore Museum) in the east consists of four buildings: Wakayama House, Nokubi House, Go-kura Storehouse (used for storing rice as payment of taxes), and the Museum of Mountain Life.

Hida Folk Village is a 20 minute walk from Takayama station, or one can take the Hida-no- Sato bus from the bus station, which will take 10 minutes to reach the Village.

Shokawa Valley Region

One of the more interesting regions in Japan, the Shokawa Valley is highly recommended as a short stopover from Takayama. The Valley presents a peak of rural life that is seldom found in Japan. Many villages and hamlets are spread around the Shokawa Valley Region. Two districts with a number of specially preserved houses are Shirakawa-go and Gokayama. It is important to check the bus schedule, as buses to and around Shokawa Valley are quite infrequent.

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