Japan is an incredible place of contrasts; of jaw-dropping beauty and gentle people, of ultra-modern cities and aggressive inhabitants, of geisha and international corporations, frozen ice sculptures of Hokkaido and the tropical waters of Okinawa. It would take a lot longer than one would think to explore all that this country has to offer. It is shocking to visit somewhere that seems so small and realize months are needed to visit everywhere one wants.
A lovely example of a traditional village is Takayama in the Japanese Alps. This can be reached on the famous Shinkansen (bullet train, which is a revelation in itself. The town is extremely charming as a traditional village. Visit the sake breweries (of course have some tastings), stroll the old streets of the town famous for its skilled craftspeople who built houses and temples for the Emperors in Kyoto, and soak up the atmosphere.
Takayama is home to many old wooden houses which are unique in their design as they were built to withstand the harshness of the climate and terrain here. The ‘Praying Hand’ houses at the Hida Folk Village are worth a look. Bikes are available to be borrowed or rented for a bike ride up to the top of town for a spectacular view. Ryokans, or inns, are the accommodation of choice in Japanese villages. They have traditions of their own.Slippers only one one’s feet. The small room will have a tatami, or straw mat, for sleeping. Bedding is provided in the room. Guests will be given a yukata, or robe, to wear inside. Visitors are expected to take an Onsen, or hot bath before bedding down. Traditional meals are served at appointed times. This is a true Japanese experience every visitor should try.
Amble around the village and soak up the atmosphere. Nature is the tourist attraction here, and the difference between the cities and the mountains is such a blatant contrast it is confusing and yet delightful that they are part of the same country.