Culture and saké: Takayama (2 days) Kampai! Takayama is home to dozens of saké breweries, and is the place to sink down jugs and jugs of this rice-based beverage. If you don’t like the taste that much, try and start with some warm saké after a day of exploring — nice, right? To fill up the day before boozing hour, visit the morning markets, explore the old town on foot, and snap pics of the traditional wooden houses and old-school shops. Or maybe spend an afternoon hanging out in a cafe, sipping on tea and writing postcards while listening to jazz records. Oh, and make sure you hop on the train back to Tokyo during daylight hours: the ride is stunning.
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Historic Villages of Shirakawa-gō and Gokayama
Shirakawa-go and Gokayama are on the banks of the Shogawa River Valley in the remote mountain region from Gifu to Toyama Prefectures. Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the villages are famous for the homes built in the traditional architectural style named Gassho-zukuri. Gassho-zukuri otherwise known as "prayer hands construction", is usually characterized by thatched roofs resembling two monks hands joined in prayer. The buildings are often three to four stories high and built to withstand the snow and harsh elements that the region experiences in the winter months.