Takayama has a very nice old town. It is known for its carpentry, with its characteristic dark wooded fronts, and sliding doors. The dark, sometimes, near black, wood contrasts with the many colorful Japanese souvenirs you can find here.
Old town consists of several streets a few blocks east of the station and has many sake breweries, old shops and some inns. As Takayama is small, there is no need for a car, or even for public transport. Old town of Takayama also has Japan’s only remaining prefectural office of the Tokugawa shogunate. It is the Takayama-jinya; it is now a sort of museum and even has a torture room (with explanations).