THE JAPANESE ALPS AND TAKAYAMA
Takayama is probably our favourite small town in the world. Deep in the Japanese Alps, with a special atmosphere, wonderfully preserved wooden houses, a tradition of fine carpentry, exceptional local beef, it is also a hub for exploring hot springs tucked into the surrounding mountains.
A mighty fine ryokan in the Fukichi Onsen area. A long thatched walkway banked with snow leads to a guesthouse built using wood from old farmhouses and sake breweries. Hot spring baths are exceptional and the mountain cooking is delicious. Rustic and deeply relaxing.
Fukuchi Onsen, Kamitakara-mura, Kichijyou-gun, Gifu-ken 506-1434,
81 (0)578 9 0099
From the bus station just to the right of Takayama train station, take the bus bound for Shinhotaka ropeway and stop at Fukuchi Onsen guchi (~1 hour 10 minutes, 13 buses a day, 7:00-18:40). The bus stop is right in front of the ryokan.
Maruaki Hida Beef
A great place to dine on the local speciality, Hida beef. It is both a butcher shop and a restaurant, so the quality of meat is astounding and the value is good.
6-8 Tenmanmachi, Takayama, Gifu Prefecture 506-0025, Japan
Halfway between the train station and the historic core of Takayama on the main road. Corner shop with a life-size sculpture of a bull in front.
A family-run ryokan in the centre of Takayama. Built at the turn of the 20th century and aging gracefully. Beside the main canal and filled to the brim with the family's collection, it feels more like a stay in a relative's house. Good value.
4-21, Honmachi, Takayama city, Gifu pref.
81 (0) 577 32 0228