Takayama city is the perfect destination for those who are on a time crunch, whether you only have one or two days to explore this place with thorough planning you can make an unforgettable trip. With great weather all year round, history-filled streets and buildings, great food and city festivities this city is the perfect getaway if you are trying to escape busy city streets. Start the day with a cup of coffee and savory breakfast, check out local museums and shrines, and get a few souvenirs at Sanmachi Street for a nice relaxing and touristic day.
1. Takayama Festival
Twice a year the Takayama festival attracts thousands of locals and tourists in order to celebrate the history and culture in a spectacularly colorful way. The Spring Takayama festival is usually held on April 14th and 15th, it is the festival of Hie shrine and the fall festival October 9th and 10th for the Hachiman shrine. Every year both festivals start at 9.30 by a beautiful Yatai float parade that carries through the city streets, the floats are decorated with Karakuri Ningyo dolls that dance and move with the music. Later on from 13.00 until 16.00 the Mikoshi portable shrine is paraded through the town, this portable shrine is usually placed in the Mikoshi and paraded around only twice a year. The evening festivities are held between 18.00 and 21.00 with different floats paraded around the old town, this is considered as the highlight of the festival.
2. Sanmachi Street
If you want to learn about the history and get to know Takayama you must walk through the Sanmachi street. You will find the Sanmachi street only 10 minutes away from the Takayama Station, it consists of 6 neighborhoods – Kamiichinomachi, Kamininomachi, Kamisannomachi, Shimoichinomachi, Shimoninomachi, and Shimosannomachi.
The neighborhoods are filled with restaurants, bars, shops, old wooden townhouses, and sake breweries. Walking through this street feels like going back in time for many of the buildings still look the way they looked back in the Edo period. Once inhabited by Samurai some of the private residences hold many secrets and rich histories like the Hida Folk Museum and the Fujii folk gallery. The shops, museums, and restaurants are not the only ones who welcome visitors, some of the private residences open their doors to tourists to teach and show the traditional living, local crafts, and history of the city.
3. Higashiyama Walking Course
If you are up for some exercise with a cultural twist Higashiyama Walking Course is just for you. Once you exit the Museum of History and Art which is also a must-see, you will embark on a Higashiyama route. In the suburbs of the city, there stands a temple town – Teramachi offers a wooded hill tour of the Takayama Castle. This 3-kilometer route is not only filled with trees and beautiful landscape it will also allow you to gaze at shrines and temples as well as the Takayama castle ruins. You can visit it at any time of the year, but if you should pick one season we definitely recommend fall when the forest is tinted with reds and yellows giving photographers a chance for a perfect shot. On your route, you will see 8 temples that tell a long and rich history of the town and local architecture – Unryuji, Daiouji, Dounji, Sogenji, Tenshoji, Hokkeji, Zennoji, and Soyuji temple.
4. Takayama Jinya
Takayama Jinya administrative headquarters were built during the Edo period in 1962 and used until 1871. Jinya housed grains and was used as offices, conference rooms, guest rooms, and residential spaces. Since 1929 this monument has been included in the National Historic Site and today it is open to visitors as a museum storing old maps, documents, and other artifacts. The main building was constructed in 1816 and still to this day it stands intact, in 1996 it was completely restored and it is still one of its kind.
You can reach Takayama Jinya on foot, it is only a 10-minute walk from the Takayama station.
Opening hours – 8.45- 17.00 (until 18.00 in August), closed on December 29,31, and January 1.
Entrance fee – 440 yen approx 3,5 Euros.
5. Morning Markets
No matter if it rains or is extremely humid, every morning local vendors gather at the Asaichi morning markets. Every day at 7.00 AM sharp until noon Jinya mae market in Takayam Jinja and the Miyagawa market in the old town offer local crafts, foods, and flowers. Miyagawa market contains around 60 stalls that can be found near the Kaji Bashi bridge where you can purchase the freshest and organic farm fruits and vegetables that the city has to offer. These daily markets offer more than fresh produce, locals, as well as tourists, love coming here just to chat as well as gather advice on how to preserve foods and learn new recipes. Although Takayama might seem like a quiet and calm city we recommend arriving early as the streets get packed with buyers trying to get the freshest produce that sells out very quickly.