Rather than head down to Hiroshima I decided to go to Takayama after Kyoto. After switching from the wonderful Shinkansen (bullet train) in Nagoya I took a small ?express? train into the mountains. The ride was very pretty but the mountains aren?t as uninhabited as you would think. The Japanese have to use every bit of land they can.
Takayama is mostly known for it?s traditional houses. I walked around the area and felt like I was in a zoo. There were only a handful of Western tourists but literally busloads of Japanese. Since there?s two large groups of Australian teenagers staying at my hostel I was surprised to see so few Westerners around town. The town was definitely a tourist town, shutting down at night after the tour buses leave.
One major attraction is the Hida Folk Village with plenty of traditional houses on display. It wa since to walk around and the tour groups? pace was much faster than mine so I was able to stay away from them. Nearby is a large temple with a gold, sweeping roof. Apparently it?s been pegged as a cult, but it was a distinctive part of the mostly one and two-story skyline.
Out of everything in Takayama I liked the tradtional houses the best. One in particular has beautiful clean lines and a high ceiling. A lot of early 20th century modern architecture the west calls innovative is obviously influenced by houses like these.
The hostel in Takayama is part of a temple complex and has very strict rules. The lights were turned off at 10pm and we were awakened at 7am by a flute player. The 15 year-old Australian school group stomped around and hogged the shower and Japanese bath. However, I did meet a great girl about my age from Tokyo. She was also travelling with her iBook and we got them out to compare. I gave her some icons and she gave me some serial software. Her keyboard has a slightly different configuration of keys and a much smaller space bar to accommodate the Kanji keys. She called me a geek but I think she appreciated me cleaning her keyboard for her.