Dubbed as Little Kyoto of the Japanese Alps, Takayama —meaning “tall mountain”— (sometimes Hida-Takayama) in Gifu Prefecture, is an ancient feudal city known for its Edo-style preserved old town.
Despite its distance from the rest of Japan, it gained prosperity during the Edo period when the city was placed under direct control of the shogunate for its economic contribution from supply of high quality timber and skilled carpenters.
Takayama fuses historic and modern Japan in one walkable city with lots of charm.
Alongside the street by Miyagawa River (below) would be the daily morning Miyagawa Market where vendors sell local crafts, fresh produce and flowers.
The river water is so clear, you could see the fish beneath! Ducks and birds rest and play throughout the river.
Below are some of the shops at the preserved Sanmachi District with lots of local specialties to discover.
Below is the more modern Honmachi 2-Chome Shopping District:
You can not leave Takayama without trying its many forms of Hida-gyu (Hida Beef) which is beef from a black haired breed of Japanese cattle raised in the unspoiled mountain air and fresh water of Gifu Prefecture for a minimum of fourteen months. Kobe beef is to Kobe, what Hida-gyu is to Takayama. Whereas Kobe beef has the characteristic melt in your mouth texture, Hida beef is known for its more beefy taste.
I had this Yakiniku Style Hida-gyu at Kaede Hidatakayama (Address, map, and other info HERE). I found the beef exceptionally tasty and juicy but the sinew got in the way. I’m not sure if this is characteristic of Hida beef or if it is because I just ordered a so-so grade. The tomato wasn’t as sweet as I had envisioned it to be. But the BEEF FRIED RICE! The Beef Fried Rice is worth coming back to! And the Hida-gyu in it had absolutely no sinew. It is the first beef fried rice I’ve raved about! Of course, I had to have my plum wine (umeshu) 🙂
You will also find a range of Hida Beef dishes like Nigiri (made to order and worth the wait). This one below served on a Senbei Rice Cracker is near to Kaede Hidatakayama at the Honmachi district.
On another part of the old district, you could see a vendor making his own crackers.
The Nigiri below is from the Sanmachi district.
You can also check out the Hida beef Steak, Sukiyaki, Croquette, Kushiyaki (skewer), Burger, Ramen, Beef Buns, Sushi.
Try the Soy Sauce Ice Cream! It tastes a little like a light salted caramel flavor. Quite yummy! And unique!
Where there is good beef, there is good dairy!
Traditional and Modern transport: Rikisha and Bikes!
If you are going to Shirakawa-go, please try to take the side trip to Takayama! There is also a open-air museum village with traditional thatched-roof gasshō-zukuri (praying hands) house in this area called Hida-no-Sato but if you are short on time and need to choose only one thatched roof village, please go to the Shirakawa-go version instead.