It is difficult for us to imagine a time when things "closed for winter", but here we are.
There is a smallish town set in central Honshu called Kamikochi. From here we would have had access to a variety of hikes and other mountain wonders. However, it being around 0 degrees C and most of this area being covered in snow, they have all closed up.
So, instead we have gotten as close as we could, another nearby town called Takayama. This place will be by far the most expensive excursion we have done to date, it is however just as stunning as the rest of Japan.
Because it wasn't as close to the mountains, it made things slightly more difficult (and expensive) to get the places we wanted. SO we started of with a walk through the town and country side. There are quite a few museums in the town, but they are all tiny and and not really worth the price. We did go into one, an old Samurai's house that has been well kept with some artefacts, including trophies and other relics.
We then started following a path on our map that took us to see the old castle. The castle was no longer there, just a sign post on top of the hill. We did see a crow fall out of a tree though. Afterwards we started to follow some wooden signs that said "hiking walk" and we weren't too bothered on where it went. It followed a path through what seemed to be mostly peoples back gardens and lots and lots of temples. They were confusing as most of the signs had on average 3 different arrows pointing the way, but at the same time helpful as there was a sign every 5 metres.
The next day we took a bus that led us into the mountains of Shinotaka. Here we grabbed a cable car that took us to just over 2000m. Here there was deep snow-covered hiking paths as well as more spectacular views. With more walking (with the occasional snow fight) we headed back down.
At the bottom, we waited for our bus in one of the many Onsens of Japan. These bath houses are heated through the thermals dotted around this Volcanic area. They had a couple of different temperature baths, the hottest being outside with the mountain views. Mineral rich and completely relaxing. The rewards you get for having earthquakes every now and then.