First day in Hida-Furukawa. Woke up early and wandered out by the nearby river before heading back for breakfast. The day continues with a guided walking tour around the town (it is not very big!) visiting a few of the local shrines and walking around a koi filled canal. All the roads here have streams of water on each side than flush water form the mountains out into the river. This area is prone to have lots of snow in the winter so these canals are useful for pushing snow into to melt. Historically the town was home to a lot of Japanese woodworking masters, and apparently when Emperors had work on temples or castles, they would be called on from Hida. There is a local museum which we passed by and would visit later called the Takumikan Craft Museum, and built in the late 80's by contemporary craftsman to both be constructed of, and a place to exhibit the traditional techniques.
We also visited one of the local sake brewery. The breweries are identified by this cedar ball that hangs on the front of the building and it is called sugidama - when the first sake of the season is pressed they place the cedar ball that is stuffed with hundreds of fresh cedar needles. Once the needles turn to brown over several months it means the new sake brew is ready.
We then headed by a short 20 minute train ride to the neighbouring town Hida-Takayama (the Hida- designation is actually to distinguish it from other areas known as Takayama as the name means tall-mountain). Takayama is much larger and much more prone to tourists. Here we visited the Yoshijima House, which was built by one of the master carpenters in 1907. The family was a well established sake brewer at the time and the front of house ran their business. The house is very large and the main reception space is double height and the roof rafters are gridded. The house is now a museum to the style of house and the brewery is no longer in operation (though they do keep a cedar ball hanging outside).
We then had free time to explore Takayama so a small group of us decided to explore the nearby Shiroyama Park, which is large hill in which Takayama castle used to be atop, and now only the ruin of its foundation remains. We ended up circling the entire park path system which took us most of the afternoon, and made for nice views of Takayama. When we deceased the park and went to find a place to eat it had started to lightly rain and the city had cleared out of much of the tourists. We ended up walking down the same market street as before but didn't at first recognize it without all the activity seen earlier. For dinner we found a place that serves a similar Hida beef that we had the night before, and then caught the last train back to Hida-Furukawa