Takayama and Shirakawa Go – small mountain towns
Takayama is a small town (in Japanese standards) of about 100,000 people, placed inside the mountains about 300km east of Tokyo. You can get there by train from Nagoya or buy bus, the train would be very slow comparing to the express train, due to the hard terrain it crosses. While riding to the mountains you will experience how intensive the Japanese control of nature is: Small dams in every small creek or river, bridges, tunnels, fences and snow stoppers. The level of infrastructure, even in such rural areas, is amazing.
The town of Takayama has preserved lots of the Japanese heritage and those are reflected in how the streets, houses and gardens looks like. Attached to lots of houses in the village you may see small rice fields and tea plants:
Several temples in the city:
We stayed in Kanko hotel which is like a nerds style of Rayokan, gives you a glimpse of the traditional guest houses but with the modern comfort of private toilet and private shower. The room was designed very nice and sleeping on the floor reminded me my life in the Galilee which unlike the life in New Zealand, is more connected to mother Earth:
From Takayama we took a one hour bus drive through the mountains, to the remote village of Shirakawa Go. This village was declared as a UNESCO heritage site, if I’m honest with you, I felt a bid sad for the locals, which had to tolerate herds of noisy tourists – thousands and thousands of them – and how the place turned from a Samurai heritage village into a fast food and gift shops avenue. It is so highly touristic that I wouldn’t recommend going there. It looks beautiful though: