As I came to find out on my most recent trip to the Hida region, the gassho-zukuri villages of Gokayama and Shirakawa and the old quarter of Takayama are not the only anachronistic hamlets hidden amongst this area's numerous mountains and valleys.
Check out three cool spots that we discovered on our last trip to Takayama, including a local sake brewery with a chic restaurant, a fantastic new history and art museum (which is also fantastically free!), and a recreation of a mid-20th century Japanese townscape.
Behind me, I could hear the train departing. About four-and-a-half hours earlier, I had set out from bustling Tokyo Station. Now, I was virtually the only person at the ticket gate. This was fortunate as I struggled to coax my suitcase through the turnstile; the burgeoning bag bouncing off the barriers like a bowling ball down a bumper-clad lane.
Soothing onsen, gourmet cuisine, stunning views, traditional design, heartfelt service... it is amazing how many unique characteristics can be conjured up by a single word: ryokan. This time around, I decided to stay at Komeya, the "gourmet ryokan" with an emphasis on cuisine, essentially the Japanese version of an auberge.