Every visitor to Japan, if time and budget allow, should try to spend time away from the big cities and more well-known tourist areas.
Highly recommended, if you can see your way to a sidetrip, is a stay in a traditional ryokan. The tariff might seem high and it is certainly a luxury to average Japanese vacationers, but considering it includes an exquisite breakfast and dinner, it’s actually a pretty good value.
There are many kinds of ryokan. Some are very exclusive with private in-room onsen and kaiseki ryori, elaborate meals composed of multiple small dishes of regional specialties. Others are more accessible and offer shared baths and communal rooms in which meals are served.
Hoshokaku falls somewhere in the middle. Some rooms have a private onsen and others share. Our room had a private onsen, outdoors, on a small veranda overlooking Takayama.
The meals were not served in-room but were enjoyed at a private table, shielded by curtains (noren) from other diners.
As appears to be true all over Japan, regardless the class of service one can afford, the people providing that service seem to genuinely care that you are experiencing the best this country has to offer.
Leaving Takayama, we continue our journey to Kyoto.