Scenic train ride to Takayama.
From Odawara I boarded the Shinkansen Kodama for Nagoya station. I had about 1 hour to kill before the Hida
wide-view Limited Express train arrived. It was still raining slightly, but it wasn’t as bad as before. The train arrived and boarded it without any problems until later on when the person checking the tickets told me I was in reserved car, but he let it go since nobody was sitting on the seats. The seats themselves were elevated, and the windows were really big, hence the name of the train, “wide-view.” The big windows and the elevated seats were made on purpose so that the passenger can see and enjoy the beautiful forest leading Takayama
Night time along the main street in Takayama.
The train ride to Takayama was really beautiful, we passed through many valleys, and rivers, and the fact that it was raining added to the whole experience. The Japanese guys sitting up front were a really talkative and a loud bunch. This one girl I sat across from was starting to get annoyed until her boyfriend said something in French and shook his head at her implying just to relax and let it go.
I arrived at Takayama station around 430 pm, went to the tourist information booth to obtain some maps before walking for about 30 minutes to find Rickshaw inn where I planned on staying for the night. It doesn’t actually take 30 minutes to get to the inn, but I got lost especially with the way Takayama is laid out in the map.
View of Takayama from the Higashiyama area
I wasn’t sure which way was north or south. The inn itself wasn’t that big, and they had a limited number of rooms available, so I suggest you book way in advance. I found out about the inn through Lonely Planet Japan. Again I opted for the Japanese style room, they also have a western style room. The room itself was about one-third the size of the room I stayed in Mikawaya ryokan, so it was really small. But as a single traveler it was more than enough for me. They had a small sink and toilet in the room, and for 4300 yen a night was a bargain for me. The shower area was located on the third floor.
I went out afterwards to explore the remainder of the day in Takayama. It was raining slightly; I visited the Higashiyama area of Takayama which contains a cemetery, temples, shrines, and residential homes.
Old style house.
I was planning on doing the full Higashiyama walking course which takes 2 hours, but since it was already dark decided to have dinner instead. I found a Japanese restaurant and had myself pork ramen with some ice cold draft beer.
I was glad to find out that it wasn’t raining outside when I woke up in the morning. I visited the old town area of Takayama first, but it was still very early and the shops were still close. So I went back to the Higashiyama area to do the walking course. I didn’t actually have the Higashiyama area walking course map, but they had signs to lead you to where to go next. But the signs themselves were confusing. I got lost halfway through the walking course and found myself in a residential neighborhood.
I walked around the neighborhood and found a path uphill which I went up to, and when I got to the top enjoyed the surrounding scenery of the local houses. I went back to the old town area, and by that time the shops were open. It was only Wednesday, but there were a lot of people already. I can’t even imagine what it is like during weekends.
Takayama’s old town area contains some really beautiful old style buildings dating as far back as the Edo period when the city itself was a thriving merchant town. Even now some of those buildings sell crafted wares and goods as well as souvenirs. There is also a building where you could sample local wine, sake, and tea for free or for a price. I didn’t sample any though, but I did try out some small snacks from the local vendors.
I walked around some more and found one of the two morning markets held in Takayama each morning. The market themselves were nothing special, they sold some fresh produce, which is something I see all the time when I go to the flea market in Fresno. But the nice thing about Takayama is that the city itself is small, quaint, traditional, and felt relaxed that I felt like I didn’t have to rush myself trying to see all the sites. It was worth a visit simply to see a part of traditional Japan.
I had one more site to see in Takayama, so I went back to the station and bought a back and forth bus pass to Hida Folk village with an admission ticket for about 950 yen. I read that you can walk 30 minutes to Hida Folk village from the station, but I suggest taking the bus instead.
Hida no Sato Folk village.
Hida folk village contains some really well preserved farmhouses with thatched roofs. The roofs themselves looked so old that vegetations were actually growing at the top. All the homes in the village are accessible and you can walk in to see what traditional life was like in the past. Nobody actually lives in those houses anymore, but a much better choice if you want to visit this type of traditional Japanese style housing is to visit Shirakawa-go, which is a 50 minute bus ride from Takayama station. I actually wanted to visit Shirakawa and stay overnight at one of the local farmhouses, but my itinerary and time limited me. I spent about 1 hour in Hida folk village and left Takayama station for Kyoto.