Every time when I visited at Hirayu no mori, I went there, and drank the local beer watching the surrounding beautiful winter view, where there are the old growth forests. This restaurant has floor heating system using the spa.
Favorite Dish: the local beer which is called Hodaka beer.
Nouhi bus has a line of from Takayama Station to Hirayu, Kitahotaka. You can get a ticket of 5000 yen in two days period with a free spa fare and the Kitahotaka aerial cableway fare and some discounts. This ticket is very good, I think. In addition, this buses are very good for us in the changeable winter season, because they have winter equipment. You can get less trouble if you use the bus.
If you have enough time to go to your destination, you can visit the third floor of the Hirayu bus terminal, which has inside and outside spas and a Japanese sitting area.
Every time when I visited there on February, I saw no persons in Hirayu minzokukan museum, where is located from the bus terminal in several minutes. Hirayu minzokukan has a outside spa which is very hot. But, if you are not afraid of the hottest temperature, the spa is very good. The museum is not free, but the spa may be cheap, several hundreds yen. The locker for those who get a bath is available.
Known to locals as the Hida Dai-Shyo Nyu-Dou, the limestone cave was formed due to the upward push of the tectonic plates causing the underwater enclosed caves to surface and cut off the water source millions of years ago.
The cave is enroute from Takayama town towards Hirayu onsen along Route 158 and it's a steep ascension from the main road. The entrance fee of ¥1,000 includes access to an exhibition hall of some Chinese and Japanese antiques (mostly porcelain and pottery). Of utmost interest are models of famous buildings constructed from pearls and fossilised fish. Explanations in Japanese though you can get away with some knowledge of Mandarin.
The interior of the cave averages 12 degree Celsius in summer and on our visit, there were not many visitors. You can choose to exit at different levels and they forwarn you about the steepest climb at the last level.
Drips inside so take care of camera equipment. There're different plaques (in Japanese) which point out the different types of stalactites and staglamite formations. You don't need to understand Japanese to spot the difference, but definitely helps if you know some stuff about limestone formations from your old Geography lessons.
It costs quite a bit to take the ropeway to the peak of Shin Hotaka and whether it's worthwhile or not is really a matter of personal preference.
One of the popular hiking trail in the region, it is possible to hike all the way up and down the mountain. For most people, the gondola ride up's probably easier. The "true" experience is not reaching the peak per se, but the journey up, when you ascend the steep inclination and the view is as though you were "walking in the air" (as the ride promotes).
At the base of the mountain, the ticket counter gives a summary of the weather condition at the peak and whether you could get a good view of the neighbouring ranges. Midway up, at the second boarding station, there is an open air onsen and footbath. Right at the peak is the view and the trailhead of the hiking path.
In my personal opinion, go only if you have your own transport and nothing much to do, and only in good weather or fantastic foliage season. The ropeway is about 20 minutes drive from the Hirayu onsen town. Enroute, you could also stop by a toy museum.