Takayama(高山) is located in Gifu Prefecture located in the Chubu region of mainland Japan. It is sandwiched in between Fukui in the north, Aichi in the south, Nagano from the east and Shiga from the west. The region is called Hida-Takayama and is most well known for their beef as Hida beef is one of the top ranked beef in Japan along with Kobe beef.
The region was formerly known as the Hida Province where Nagachika Kanamori was the lord of the region. Since Takayama is such a common city name around Japan this city is mostly known as Hida-Takayama(飛騨高山) instead. Takayama derives from two kanji letters 'Taka(高)' meaning tall or high and 'Yama(山)' meaning mountain. Since Gifu is a prefecture surrounded by mountains and nowhere near the ocean, it gives you a different experience by coming here.
The most famous gourmet within Hida-Takayama has to be their beef. You can actually find Hida-beef being used in various different styles of cooking from ramen topping to side dish to yakiniku. My favourite of all would be savouring the Hida-beef yakiniku style because it really brings out the true taste and texture of the meat.
Hoba Miso Yaki(朴葉味噌焼き) is a traditional dish eaten in the Hida region of Gifu. You can find it as souvenir in most places in Hida-Takayama or Shirakawa-Go if you plan on going up. This is a dish made with green onions and miso paste wrapped in a magnolia leaf and being grilled under a fire. I was fortunate to have this dish during my trip to Shirakawa-Go and it was off the charts. The sweetness of the miso paste and the little spiciness from the green onions really works well together. It makes a great sauce for Hida beef or topping on a bowl of white rice.
Since we are still in Japan we can not get out of the grasp of Japanese' favourite comfort food, ramen. Takayama ramen is different from all other ramen like you had in the rest of Japan. The soup base is mainly made with chicken stock and mirin while they also add a special sauce of soy sauce and katsuo on top. Before you eat, you are to mix the sauce and the soup together in creating an extraordinary flavour that you will not forget. If you like chicken soup based ramen then this one is for you, if not it is still worth a try since some shops does offer Hida beef as a topping rather than regular pork.
Hida-Takayama is mostly known for its relation to an anime called 'Hyouka' meaning Ice Candy. Many anime lovers from all around Japan and the world come to visit this place especially during the Ikibina-matsuri. During this matsuri people will get the chance to see the real festival which the anime depicted and also get to participate in a stamp rally. You can get different items by completing different routes. Some routes requires you to take the train while others you just walk around the area.
Ikibina-matsuri is a festival where girls dresses up like Hina dolls and walk from a starting point to an ending point. The festival starts off at a shrine called Minashi Jinja (水無神社) in Hida-Ichinomiya walk a huge circle and then back to the shrine. The reason for this festival is to pray for the happiness for girls as well as having a prosperous year in farming. Nine unmarried girls are chosen and would walk this path every year on April 3rd. At the end of the festival they allow people to take pictures with them. During this festival every shop, hotel and inn will have a set of hina dolls as display to show their support.