My first visit to Takayama’s famous hamburger shop was in the summer of 2012. I was out enjoying the town from my bicycle, when I decided that I could really go for a good burger. I had heard of Center 4 from some locals, so I stopped at the information booth in front of Takayama Station and they happily showed me where the shop was located on a local map.
Less than 10 minutes later, I easily spotted the sandwich board sign set up in front of the shop. I parked my bike a few doors down near the post office, taking care not to be in the way of anyone, and went in.
As I opened the wooden door, I found myself in a hallway that opened to an antique shop along the left and also featured some antiques on the right side of the hallway as well. For a split second, I questioned if I was in the right place. But I continued on down the little hallway, exited a back door, passed a small patio space, and found myself at a white door with an iron handle - this was it: Center 4 Hamburgers.
Once inside, I immediately noticed the warm, comfortable atmosphere and lighting, and what I believe were the sounds of Johnny Cash playing at just the right volume. The inside is nicely decorated with collections of old American memorabilia, tokens of foreign places, and each seat is draped with a folded, super soft plaid blanket.
The next thing I notice are the owners running the shop — a super nice couple with great smiles who speak English very well. The anxiety of trying to figure out how to communicate (since I don’t know much Japanese) was relieved right away.
The menu has a solid selection of burger options and toppings, including the Hida Beef Burger (made from 100% Hida Beef — the region is famous for it), a Vegetarian Burger for the non-meat eaters, and the best fries I have ever eaten: Fries with Cheese & Salsa - seriously, they are so good! And if you’re craving a non-Japanese beer, they have a good list of imported beers available (along with some Japanese beers as well!).
When you find yourself exploring all that the Hida/Takayama area has to offer, and find yourself craving some food that’s a little more familiar, visit Center 4, and you can be certain that you will receive consistently great food, great service, and a great experience overall.