Takayama is a small market town located in the Japanese Alps (approx 700m altitude), on the banks of the Miyagawa River. The town is full of well-preserved old wooden houses, which now double up as craft shops, museums and Sake breweries – many of which are open to the public for tastings. You will also find the Shukyo Mahikari sects’ main World Shrine located here, the group is a non-profit spiritual and community service organization with centres in more than 100 countries. You are welcome to look around the shrine. The Teramachi district, to the south east of the town centre, is home to some more local style temples and shrines that are a delight to stroll around following the pine tree lined paths that are quite well marked in English. You will also find many “soba” noodles outlets, the best of which we found to be Ebisu-Honten, which has been making these buckwheat noodle dishes since 1898! You will also find many places serving the famous Hida beef dishes.
Besides the quaint town itself another reason to visit is the Hida No Sato Folk Village which is set in beautiful countryside in the hills overlooking the town, and offers the chance to see a side of Japan which has long since disappeared. This extraordinary collection of old “Gassho tsukuri “ (praying hands) farm houses have been moved here from all around the Hida area, complete with thatched roofs and traditional “irori” fireplaces. The grounds are also home to local artisans and you can often see them at work and sometimes even have the chance to join in.