San-machi Suji is the heart of Takayama’s old town, and the traditional houses lining the streets – many of which are open as museums – are well worth visiting.
We particularly recommend the Takayama Yatai Kaikan (festival float museum) which houses the superb yatai between festivals. The old merchant houses of Yoshijima-ke and Kusakabe Mingeikan also offer fascinating glimpses into old Takayama.
Takayama Jinya is an Edo Period government complex. Originally built in 1615, it is the only building left of its kind, and includes government offices, a rice granary, and a torture chamber. Fascinatingly, it was in use as a government building up until 1969.
There’s a clear route and free guided tours in English are available – though you’ll need to ask at the entrance. There are also audio guides for times when a volunteer guide is not available, or if you’d rather show yourself around.