After nearly 4 hours on the train from Kyoto, we finally arrived at Takayama around 300 km to the west of Tokyo. Takayama is a small, charming old Japanese town that is becoming more popular among tourists over the past few years. While the town itself is known for its traditional architecture, sakura spotting, as well as the Hida beef, Takayama is also a hub for people who wish to visit Shirakawago, one of many UNESCO World Heritage sites in Japan. And we were among those people. Soon after arriving at Takayama, we deposited our luggages into the coin lockers at the station, and bought the next bus tickets to Shirakawago.
We were only able to get on the non-reserved bus, and it took about an hour to get to the world heritage site. One of the things that I love about Japan is their abilities to preserve many of their old towns, as well as culture, for the younger generations to learn. This is a way for a nation to carry on into the future, with its people understanding their roots, where they came from. Shirakawago is famous for its farmhouses, some of which are 250 years old, known as gassho-zukuri meaning “constructed like hands in prayer”. Intelligently, the roofs are made without nails, and were used to provide large attic space for cultivating silkworms.
Today, you may also contact the local tourism authorities if you want to stay in one of these farmhouses.
Arriving back at Takayama late in the afternoon, we checked-in at our hotel before heading out for dinner. That was a quiet, but impressive first day.
Our second day began early as we decided to explore the morning market, as well as the famous “orange bridge”. As we approached the river, we were greeted by the full-blooming sakura trees along the river leading to the bridge. A beautiful site. All those with beautiful sun and cool breezes. What a present morning in Takayama.
We recommend getting early around 7am to enjoy the best views, as there would not be too many people on the streets, especially if you are into photography.
From the bridge, we walked into the morning market, where there were many shops selling souvenirs, Japanese sweets, and sake. Some of the sake houses even have their own sakura trees in the garden, so that you can enjoy their sake, as well as the beautiful flowers at the same time.
We wish we had more time in Takayama so that we can explore the town more. We love the slow pace of this little Japanese town that allow us to unwind and relax. Definitely we hope to be back again, maybe in autumn.