On the Gifu-ken side of the Central Alps in an area known as Hida, the busy tourist town of TAKAYAMA (高山), 110km northeast of Nagoya, was once an enclave of skilled carpenters employed by emperors to build palaces and temples in Kyoto and Nara. Takayama’s appeal today lies in its old merchant houses, small museums, tranquil temples and shrines clustered into a compact area. An easy day-trip is Furukawa, a mini version of Takayama, but generally minus the crowds. Takayama can also be used as a base from which to visit the picturesque Shirakawa-gō and Gokayama valleys, where three villages of A-frame thatched houses have been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Takayama’s main tourist draw is the San-machi Suji, but if you have more time there are also worthwhile attractions west of the train station, in particular the Hida Folk Village.

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