Surrounded by rice fields and mountains, Takayama feels a world away from the bright lights of busy Tokyo. A visit to Takayama should always include a trip to its morning market, which takes place next to the crystal-clear river that runs through the town. As well as local handicrafts and vibrant flowers, the market traders sell fruit from the surrounding areas, including peaches in the summer and a huge variety of crisp apples in the autumn.
The old town is very popular for its beautifully preserved streets, but my favourite thing to do in Takayama is to wander up into the surrounding hills and walk through the ancient trees to visit temples that you will likely have all to yourself. There are a number of family-run ryokans within Takayama whose owners are the friendliest I met in Japan. After a day of exploring you’ll be greeted with a warm welcome and a traditional Japanese meal, including the region's famous speciality, Hida beef.