Takayama is yet another historical destination in Japan that should be on your “MUST VISIT” list.
Join us on a fun filled day discovering this jewel of the Gifu prefecture.
Did you know that The Takayama Festival, held in spring and autumn, is considered one of Japan’s best festivals?
If you come in Spring or Autumn you might be lucky enough to catch one of these amazing festivals ranked in the top 3 of Japan’s best festivals to see.
The Spring Festival (April 14-15) is the annual festival of the Hie Shrine in the southern half of Takayama’s old town. Since the shrine is also known as Sanno-sama, the spring festival is also called Sanno Festival.
Likewise, the Autumn Festival (October 9-10) is the annual festival of the Hachiman Shrine in the northern half of the old town, and the festival is also known as Hachiman Festival.
The spring and autumn festivals have similar attractions and schedules. Each festival features its own set of about a dozen festival floats (yatai). During the year, the tall and heavily decorated floats are stored in storehouses, which are scattered across Takayama’s old town (except the floats exhibited in the Yatai Kaikan). A set of replica floats are, furthermore, exhibited year round at the Matsuri no Mori festival museum so if you can’t make it during festival time we’ll be sure to take you to the museum to get a glimpse at these fabulous floats.
Other than either witnessing the festival (if we’re lucky) or a trip to the museum to get an idea, we will stop by some of these sights to make this another memorable day and add to you unforgettable Japan experience:
Morning market; We will start the tour off by visiting one of the two morning markets (朝市, Asaichi) are held in Takayama on a daily basis from around 7:00 (8:00 in winter) to noon: the Jinya-mae Market in front of the Takayama Jinya, and the Miyagawa Market along the Miyagawa River in the old town. Most stands sell local crafts, snacks and farm products such as vegetables, pickles and flowers so it’s a perfect opportunity to see what the local handicrafts are. Afterwards we can pop into the temple or stroll along the river if the day is nice enough.
Takayama’s old town has been beautifully preserved with many buildings and whole streets of houses dating from the Edo Period (1600-1868), when the city thrived as a wealthy town of merchants.
The southern half of the old town, especially the Sannomachi Street, survives in a particularly pretty state with many old homes, shops, coffee houses and sake breweries, some of which have been in business for centuries. The shops in the area are typically open daily from 9:00 to 17:00 so be sure to stock up on souvenirs to bring back home!
Next on our list is seeing a famous World Heritage Site called:
Hida Folk Village (飛騨の里, Hida no Sato) is an open air museum exhibiting over 30 traditional houses from the Hida region, the mountainous district of Gifu Prefecture around Takayama. The houses were built during the Edo Period (1603 – 1867) and were relocated from their original locations to create the museum in 1971.
In a village-like atmosphere, the museum features buildings such as the former village head’s house, logging huts, storehouses and a number of gassho-zukuri farmhouses. These massive farmhouses are named after their steep thatched roofs which resemble a pair of hands joined in prayer (“gassho”). They were moved here from nearby Shirakawago, where gassho-zukuri houses are the reason for the region’s World Heritage status.
If you want to bring home a souvenir made by your own hands then we can stop for a short workshop.
A short walk from the Hida Folk Village is the Hida Takayama Crafts Experience Center, where workshops on local handicrafts are given. For a fee of 600 to 1600 yen, you get to learn how to make crafts such as beaded key chains, sarubobo dolls (a popular local doll), ceramic cups or glass wind chimes, and take them home as souvenirs. Workshops last 15 to 60 minutes, so it’s the perfect break to catch your breath and get your hands dirty! And don’t worry, our experienced guide can help to explain things should the instructor not know any English.
Our last stop of the day is going to be the Higashiyama Walking Course (東山遊歩道, Higashiyama Yūhodō) is a pleasant walking route through Takayama’s temple town (Teramachi), the city’s rural “suburbs” and Shiroyama Park, a wooded hill and former site of Takayama Castle.
Along the 3.5 kilometer long course, you will pass more than a dozen common temples and shrines, the ruins of Takayama’s former castle and ordinary scenes of a rural Japanese town. While the Higashiyama Walking Course is by no means a stunning sightseeing experience, it offers a pleasant way to spend one or two hours and get to know Takayama’s calmer side.