Way of the rising dragon

Discovering traditional Japan along the Shoryudo route

In Takayama, Gifu Prefecture, take a bus or walk the 2.5km from JR Takayama Station to Hida no Sato (Hida Folk Village), an open-air museum which opened in 1971. The village is home to about 30 houses which have been moved from their original locations throughout the Hida region to be preserved at the folk village. The thatched and shingled roofs of the 'gassho-zukuri'-styled (steep rafter roof) dwellings are reminiscent of the famed houses in Shirakawa-go. There are exhibitions of artefacts such as daily household objects, tools and clothes from ancient Japan. Handicraft workshops are also available. Entry is ¥700 yen (215 baht) for adults and ¥200 for children. Melalin Mahavongtrakul

Industrial towns, rolling green hills, skyscrapers, Mount Fuji -- the scenery shifted as I gazed outside the chartered bus that sped from one prefecture to another on the Shoryudo route in central Japan.

Shoryudo is a great way to explore traditional Japanese sites, from ninja museums and tea plantations to wasabi farms and sweet and savoury delicacies. After growing too familiar with the well-trodden paths of Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka and Sapporo, it is high time to wander into the lesser known in the Land of the Rising Sun.

Shoryudo, meaning "Way Of The Rising Dragon", spans across nine prefectures -- Toyama, Ishikawa, Fukui, Nagano, Gifu, Shizuoka, Aichi, Mie, and Shiga -- in Chubu and Hokuriku regions. Looking at the map, the shape of these prefectures align to form a dragon, giving the area its name.

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