Some 40km northwest of Okayama, in the foothills of the mountain range that divides western Honshū, TAKAHASHI (高梁) is a small and charming time-warped castle town. Few visitors venture here despite the fine old buildings and temples in the Ishibiya-chō Furusato Mura (“Hometown Village”) area, a name evoking images of a long-lost Japan. Except for the steep hike up to the castle – Japan’s highest – all of Takahashi’s sights are within easy walking distance of Bitchū Takahashi Station and can be covered in half a day. Finding your way around is simple, since there are plenty of direction signs in English.

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