As you walk around Takayama’s old town you may notice some strange looking buildings – very tall, narrow and plain, and painted white in contrast to the dark wood of the old houses that surround them. These are the storehouses for the yatai or festival floats, which are kept hidden away here for most of the year. Only during the four days of festival (two in the spring, two in the autumn) are they wheeled out to be paraded round the town and exhibited in all their glory. If the festival is hit by bad weather they will remain in these storehouses instead, but with the large doors flung open so all can see them. At any other time visitors must be content with examining the photo that is displayed outside alongside some information about the float within.
The storehouses are dotted around the old town, so keep your eyes open! The ones in my photos were on the river bank where the morning market takes place (first two photos) and on Kami-Sannomachi (third photo)
If you look at the ground in front of the storehouse you will see the tracks on which the float is wheeled in and out, which will give you some idea of its size. If you look very carefully at my main photo here you will just see these at the very bottom of the shot. But for a proper look at these fabulous creations you should visit the Yatai Kaikan museum at the northern end of the old town, described in my previous tip.
And having visited that museum you can go next door to the Sakurayama-Nikko-kan, admission to which is included in the price of your ticket.
- Historical Travel
- Arts and Culture
Nice waterfall located in Oku-Hida that does not require any trekking!
Part of an activities park area that has a huge souvenir shop that sells fresh produce from farms in the area, restaurant, toilet facilities and ashinoyu (a foot onsen).
A shuttle bus (100yen both ways) from the middle of the park takes you to the end of the road (which you could choose to walk instead) where it is a 10 min walk to the waterfall.
Although easily accessed, the waterfall is empty of tourists and makes a very pleasant visit.
It is a 30min drive from Takayama via Route 158.
Or you could take the Nouhi bus from Takayama Stn to Hirayu Onsen and walk to the park
1hr and costs 1530yen.
Not wheelchair accessible but suitable for the elderly.
- Road Trip
- National/State Park
Shinhotaka Ropeway, Gorgeous mountain views!
Rated 2 stars by the Michelin Guide Japon, the observation deck on the top of this ropeway offers fantastic views of the mountains surrounding Oku-hida.
Located in Shin-Hodaka Onsen in Oku-hida (north east of Takayama).
There is a 2 stage ropeway that leads to the top where the observation deck is.
The 1st stage from the base (where the carpark is) to the Shirakabadaira Stn (there is a stop in the middle for people who wish to hike.).
Here there is
1) Kamitakara no yu, a gender segregated rotenburo (outdoor) onsen with very nice views. The water is pretty hot and has strong sulfuric smell. Entrance is 600yen and extra 400yen for a towel (there are no showering facilities here). Opens from 9am to 3pm.
2) Alps bakery, freshly baked breads like croissants and apple bun.
3) various eateries and restaurants
The next stage leads to the peak at Nishihotakaguchi Stn.
Here is the observation deck on the top floor, an exit to a "park" on the outside and a small restaurant
2800yen for round trip for both ropeways up to the top. Tickets
The view can be hindered by cloud cover, so do check weather reports before going.
And temperatures can drop by 5-10degrees at the top, so do bring a jacket.
*pictures taken from the website
To get there:
By Bus from Takayama Stn
Nouhi bus operates a bus from Takayama Stn to Shin-Hotaka ropeway.
Costs 2100yen one way and takes 1hr 45min
Route 158 -> Route 471 -> Route 475
Takes about 45mins to 1 hr
Parking costs 500yen
- Road Trip
Mahikari Main World Shrine
From the village you will see the sweeping golden roof of Shukyo Mahikari cult’s main World Shrine. After visiting the shrine I was told it is a Doomsday cult however this was not anything I noticed when visiting the shrine. It is free to visit and walk the grounds of the shrine. Cult or not it is a very nice place and well worth a visit.
However I'm a curious person and had to get some more info when I arrived back home. This is what I found.
Source: The Australian Broadcasting Corporation
Mahikari on ABC.net
In Japanese, Mahikari means True Light and it is a new Japanese Religion which was founded by a Japanese businessman, Okada Kotama, after he received revelations from God in 1959. When he died in 1974 Mahikari split and his adopted daughter took control of Sukyo Mahikari.
According to the teachings of Mahikari many of our problems in life, such as illness or misfortune, are caused by evil or unhappy spirits possessing the living. The purification technique of Mahikari can help people get rid of these spirits.
Also visit the Mahakari website if you feel like reading more about evil spirits:
(This is however something I wouldn't recommend since I find cults rather scary! But a tip should always show both sides... )
- Religious Travel
The 2 statues by Miyagawa
These two statues are found on the bridge crossing Miyagawa.
The one with long arms is called: "Tenaga zuchi zou" and the one with long legs is called: "Ashinaga zuchi zou". The characters are supposedly from some Japanese old tale.
Havent been able to find any other information on them. (Thank you VT member Bilimari for your help on their names!)
- Arts and Culture
- Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
Bridges: Naka bashi
The Naka bashi is maybe not entirely off the beathen path, but it makes a nice picture in our bridges series. There are cherryblossom trees next to the bridge and the contrast of the pink blossom and the orange red bridge is magical....
The Shiroyama Park is located on a hill that was once the site of Takayama Castle. Lord Kanamori started building a castle here in 1590 it was fully completed sixteen years later. With changes in local administration at the end of the 17th century, the castle was no longer used and many of its buildings were destroyed or removed to nearby temples and shrines. In the late 19th century, the castle site was made into Shiroyama Park. Remains of the original dungeon foundations and walls can still be seen, and the park is famous for its lush greenery. There are also fine views of Takayama and the Japan Alps.
Just a temple we passed on our way to the city centre.
We later found out it is the this is the oldest temple in Takayama. It was originally built in 746 by Emperor Shomu. The oldest surviving building, the wooden Main Hall, dates from the 16th century. The three-storied pagoda ( on the picture) was constructed in 1821. Next to it is a gingko tree that is said to be 1,200 years old.
Bridges: over the Enakogawa
This small but nice bridge spans over the Enako river. We crossed it on our way to the festival floats hall.
Bridges: Yanagi bashi
In the cherryblossom season the spotlights along the Miya river give a great view from the Yanagi bridge to the Naka bashi.
At the Kaji bashi are two statues of manlike figures. On one side of the bridge is one with very long arms. At the other side is a figure with very long legs.