TAKAYAMA - traditional village in the clouds
I didn't know much about Takayama when I jumped on Shinkansen in May 2006 and swooshed past mountains, rivers and green valleys to get there. All I have heard about this small town was that I had to come here! I took the advice, went here and loved it! I had only planned to stay for one night but booked another one at the YH (which is in one of the temples) after a one hour stroll around town. I decided there was far too much to see to do it one day and even if it could have been done, Takayama is not the place for rushing things!
Takayama has a lot to offer: The Teramachi hiking course takes you past numerous temples loacted up and down the hills of the town. It takes about 2hrs, longer if you every now and then stop to admire the view! The morning markets start at 6 am and finishes at noon and was a great way to start the day. There are 2 markets and they sell local handicraft, clothes and food. The traditional alleys (Sannomachi) dates back to Edoperiod and houses museums, galleries, merchant shops and some old residences are open to the public. For a more modern take on Takayama the streets that leads from the station area towards temple district are lined with shops, bars and restaurants. Outside town you can find the Hida Folk Village which is a collection of about 30 houses and it's located on a spot with good view of the Japan Alps.
Only 5-10min walk from the station is the Sakurayama Hachimanhu shrine with two great exhibition halls: The Festival Floats Hall and Shishi Kaikan(Lionmasks used in Lion dance). The visit to Shishi Kaikan also includes a 20min performance of Kabuki theatre so it is well worth a visit and seems to be a bit forgotten in favour for the festival floats. A real shame!
Sarubobo is the star of Takayama and is sold everywhere in many colours and sizes. It's apparently some kind of faceless monkey and makes a great souvenir.