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'Takayama' means 'Tall Mountain', and the name refers to the town's setting high in the Japanese Alps. The town is known to have been inhabited when Nara was the capital of Japan (between 710 and 784 AD), but it was only when Takayama Castle was built in the late 16th century that it really began to take shape. The town was always governed along with the rest of Japan but, being high in the mountains and therefore harder to access, it enjoyed a level of relative independence and developed its own culture.

Whilst it is a modern, 21st century city, Takayama has retained its traditional charm. Known historically for its carpentry craft, there are still numerous surviving examples of this today. Along with larger public buildings such as temples and shrines, there are also whole districts of immaculately preserved houses and buildings from a couple of centuries ago.

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