Hida-Furukawa is another equally pleasant, small town at Gifu prefecture, located just about 15km north of Takayama.
Though, you can take the local Hida Train, the most convenient access is via the Nohi Bus from Takayama Station. Not only it is a cheaper option, but it will allow you to see the simple town lives in between mountains.
I remembered passing by a supermarket named Alpico (similar to Walmart) and how excited the kids on-board the bus are, since they will be spending a day over there. I remembered passing by a line of cherry trees along the river banks, with families setting up a picnic mat. These are simple, charming pleasures that for those residing in the city will find to boring or so.
The traditional white walls of the old Sake storehouses and Enkoji Temple on the other side, surrounding the canal named Seto River , indeed make up for one picturesque view. Apart from everything visual, what makes strolling along the canal a tourism highlight is the over-all calmness that anyone will enjoy, which sometimes is lacking on the more popular Hida-Takayama.
The carps are entertaining to watch. Apart from their huge size, they are aligned perfectly, facing the water current. Funny sight to see the all the carps on a kilometer long canal, swimming in one direction only, as if they are programmed to do so. Even the temptation of the food thrown to them, will not have them divert from their synchronized line.
Like Takayama, Furukawa most famous festival includes tall, well-decorated floats. Visitors can learn about this annual spring tradition by visiting the festival museum- Furukawa Matsuri Kan. Another highlight of the festival is group of barely dressed man playing the drums signaling the start of the celebration, which a taped performance can be watched inside the museum in 3D.
Though my first instinct on most of my travel is to find a tourist information desk and asked for a guide map, at the end of the day I usually throw the map and walk as I please. Hida-Furukawa is one of those towns where I did exactly that. Not only it is small, but the Sake brewery shops, ice cream parlor and the houses at the preserved old town are endearing to explore. Out of all the places I have seen, so far the Japanese red post box is in perfect fit at this town.
After a day or two exploring Takayama area, Hida-Furukawa indeed is a good side-trip for some quiet time.