Hidatakayama – 飛弾高山
There is a town in the Chūbu region where you can experience the Japan of ancient times.
This place is Hidatakayama (commonly knows as Takayama), in the northern part of the Gifu prefecture.
Hidatakayama is a very nice place to experience the nature of its surrounding mountains, the traditional folklore and the different traditional souvenirs.
What’s special about Hidatakayama?
Takayama is the representative city of the Hida province, and with 2177,67 km² it is the biggest Japanese municipality, although more than 92% of its surface is covered by forests. Moreover, among the mountains surrounding Takayama there is the Norikura-dake, which exceeds 3000 mt in height, and during the summer it is crowded with mountain climbers who enjoy hiking.
In the town centre of Takayama there are traditional streets, traces of the Edo period where carpentry and construction techniques were among the most well reckoned of Japan.
Two times a year, in spring and autumn, it is celebrated the Takayama Matsuri, considered one of the three most beautiful festivals in Japan.
How to get to Hidatakayama
If you are going from Tokyo or the Kinki, first head to Nagoya station.
From Tokyo to Nagoya it takes approximately one hour with the Tōkaidō Shinkansen. From Nagoya transfer to the Hida or Wide View Hida limited express trains bound for Takayama or Toyama, and in about two and a half hours you’ll arrive at Takayama station. All the route is fully covered by the Japan Rail Pass, without which you have to pay around 14.000 yen one way from Tokyo.
The Keiō buses make six round trips every day from Tokyo Shinjuku to Takayama. The fare for a one way trip is 6.500 yen and it takes around five and a half hours to get there.
More information here http://tinyurl.com/lfkgukq
From the Hokuriku
Getting there from the Hokuriku is even easier. If you can go by plane to Toyama airport, and fixed route buses for Toyama station leave from here. With the Hida limited express it is possible to arrive at Takayama station in about one and a half hours.
For more information follow this link: http://tinyurl.com/kvrzqga
From the Takayama station, all tourist attractions in Takayama are within walking distance!
I have been to Takayama during spring and autumn, and each season had its unique atmosphere.
Going out from the station, heading east, after a short walk you see the Miyagawa River, and just by crossing the bridge, you immediately find yourself in the old town.
Since the old town developed along the river, there are many old buildings aligned there. Among these remain buildings from the Edo period together with newer ones, and the atmosphere created by them is by no means possible to express with words. This antique atmosphere really remained in my heart.
There are many kinds of buildings, ranging from normal houses to souvenir shops, restaurants, pubs and small art museums.
Heading further south, turning right at the end of the street and crossing the Nakahashi Bridge, there is a building called Takayama-Jinya.
During the Edo period this place housed the prefectural governor sent by the shogunate in order to control directly the region, while nowadays the building has become a museum. The entrance gate was really splendid, and it looked like it came out of an historical Japanese play.
In front of the Takayama-Jinya every morning is held a morning market.
Moreover, in Takayama there is an area called Higashiyama. Here the streets are a bit narrow, but the old townscape is really beautiful. Since here are gathered many Buddhist shrines and temples, I think it makes the ideal place for a walk (the walking course stretches for several kilometers, and you can walk for about 2 hours).
For Takayama sightseeing, I also recommend to stay overnight, also considering the time required to reach it. Actually besides the places I mentioned here, there are no so many other outstanding sightseeing spots, but just feeling the atmosphere of the place is really nice. Moreover, from Takayama it is also relatively easy to go to Shirakawa-gō, in the northern part of Gifu prefecture.
Lastly, during the summer you can have great opportunities of enjoying the mountains surrounding the town.