A working city that has retained its traditional charm, Takayama boasts one of Japan's most atmospheric townscapes and best-loved festivals. Its present layout dates from the late 17th century and includes a wealth of museums, galleries and temples for a city of this size.
Takayama should be considered a high priority on any visit to Central Honshū. Meiji-era inns, hillside shrines and temples and a pretty riverside setting beckon you. Excellent infrastructure and friendly, welcoming locals, seal the deal. Give yourself two or three days to enjoy it all, if you can. Takayama is easily explored on foot or by bicycle and is the perfect start or end point for trips into Hida and the Northern Japan Alps.
Almost all of the main sights are clearly signposted in English and within walking distance of the station, which sits between the main streets of Kokubunji-dōri and Hirokōji-dōri. Both run east and cross the Miya-gawa (river) where they become Yasugawa-dōri and Sanmachi-dōri, respectively. Once across the river (about 10 minutes' walk), you're in the middle of the infinitely photogenic Sanmachi-suji (district) of sake breweries, cafes, retailers and immaculately preserved old private houses (古い町並み; furui machinami).