After taking two different train from Tokyo and spent all the morning in it, I arrived for two days in Takayama. This little city is at the beginning of the Japanese mountains chains. Even if the trip seems long it really worth it because being in the train is passionating. The train is literally on the top of the water and during winter, the countryside changes from the blue water to the snowy lands.
Takayama seems to be a little city which came out of nowhere BUT if the appearances can show that, this is a really touristic destination. At the train station, you will find different maps in a lot of languages which show the hiking paths to enjoy the most of the city. I really tried to follow the downtown circuit to visit the city as good as I could, but it was an epic failure. The city is full of sneaky, tricky, small streets but it doesn’t really matter. At the end, you will discover a charming city, full of wooden houses. The main street (Hirokoji- dori) is composed of small shops and restaurant with speakers which put some cute music (you can feel like you are in Disneyland).
The second circuit of hiking is much longer and can take you an entire afternoon or all the day if you really take your time. This route is called the temple road because every step is composed of a temple. When I get there it was really quiet, snowy with nobody around: it was quite magical. At the end (or the beginning depending on the way you start), you have from one side the big trees, Japanese cemetery and temples and from the other side you can the city … Magical experience !
Because the city is quite small and you can finish to visit pretty soon, near the train station there is a bus station which can guide you to other cities full of activities. (During winter some cities are road are close so no possibilities to go to some cities).
I spent half of a day at the folkloric village of Hida which is an open air museum with dozens of traditional houses. This place is really interesting and teach a lot about how the life was before in Japan, especially why the houses are constructed with thatched roofs or special materials. The place in itself is really beautiful with a panoramic view of the mountains and a huge lake in the middle of the area… Even though I went there during winter I think going there during summer should be even better.
Takayama is one of best destination to relax from Tokyo during a weekend and discovering the area by hiking.
(what it’s also great to do there is to try the beef speciality. People said that it’s one of the best areas to try this. This is basically some slices of fat beef grilled and then cooked with different sauces.)