We left Kyoto around 10.00AM and took the Shinkansen to Nagoya. We spent an hour in and around the train station waiting for the 12:48 service on Takayama Main Line via the JR Hida Train. The JR Hida follows the Hida river through the mountains, with large panoramic windows on each side! It had been raining the day before, so the rivers were running brown with mud… the views were still really impressive though! It took about 2 hours to reach Takayama from Nagoya all up, but the ride up was really enjoyable.
We arrived in Takayama in the late afternoon. Takayama literally means “tall mountain”, and is nestled in the Gifu Prefecture at nearly 2000m above sea level. The forecast for the next day looked pretty rainy so we wanted get as much in as possible. Our ryokan – Hodakaso Yamanori – was only a few minutes walk from the train station, so we were able to drop off our bags quickly and look around before dinner. We booked a “Japanese-style” room with tatami mat flooring and futons. The room itself was very nice and traditional, but the rest of the ryokan was straight from the 70s, especially the faded yellow stucco walls and pink marbled carpet. We went to go and look at the famous preserved historic section of the town, which was only a short walk away over the bridge. The river runs through the centre of town, and every street has big culverts of fresh water running underneath. (Funnily enough, nearly every 100 metres is a sign giving you directions to the town’s only McDonald’s…)
For dinner, we decided to try Takayama’s famed speciality of Hida beef at Suzuya. We got a set menu which included Hida beef cooked over a charcoal burner with miso paste and vegetables, miso soup, rice and pickles! The beef was actually cooked on top of a large leaf over the charcoal burner in front of you, only taking 2 minutes until it was ready to eat!