Good buys from Takayama town include Hoba Miso packages, Hida sake, Shirakawa green tea and handmade cloth souvenirs. And of course, Sarubobos (the gold ones are totally eccentric).
The old shophouse district, the main shopping street cutting across town (perpendicular to the JR station) and morning market near the river are good places to get them.
Prices are generally the same. The good thing about shopping in Japan (in general) is that prices are quite the same around town and bargaining is not required. So if you see something you like, buy it - comparing prices amongst shops is not effective shopping.
Almost everything's beautifully packaged. Even if not, you can request for simple packaging - which makes everything presentable but pretty wasteful sometimes.
What to pay: Souvenirs start from ¥500; alcohol ranging from ¥1,000 up; green tea from ¥500 up for 100g.
Takayama is the souvenir hunter's paradise. It's famous for toys, furniture, and other woodcraft, but Takayama lacquerware, papercraft and pottery are also well-known throughout Japan and make great gifts.
Good spots and what to buy:
Sannomachi area: Sake from one of the breweries. Handicraft. Pottery. Souvenirs*.
Asaichi (morning markets): Local crafts. Souvenirs*.
Main streets: Laquerware. Pottery. Toys. Furniture. Souvenirs*.
* You will notice the main souvenir wherever you go in Takayama is Sarubobo, see sep tip.
Throughout the Old Town there are antiques stores, which for me were just the basis for some window shopping, but made my meanderings around the old streets all the more enjoyable.
What to pay: As you might expect, major quantities of yen!
In the old town there are several sake breweries and retail stores offering samples and a head-spinning variety of sake for sale. Some come in decorative earthenware bottles with their own matching sippping cup, the size of a shot glass.
What to pay: There are a variety of sizes, prices and labels so it doesn't matter whether you are just a curious tourist or a serious sake drinker.
This open-air shopping market is fascinating. So many things here and the variety is mind boggling.
What to buy: Have a look at the picture. You'll see that you can get from flowers, food, toys to arts and crafts and more!
What to pay: Pretty reasonable and in some instane you can negotiate
What to buy:
The sarubobo is seen all over Takayama. Look for the small faceless doll. It is a kind of good luck charm. Saru means monkey and bobo means baby. It is supposed to give pregnant women an easy birth. And it is looking after your children. This can be a good souvenir for a reasonable price. They are sold from around 350 Yen, depending on size and appearance.
In 2001 Gonnie bought one, not knowing what it was exactly, with a keyring and a little bell. As we have no children, and are not planning to have them, it is working as a burglar alarm now. She attached it to her handbag, and it is ringing all the time when she moves. So if someone tries to open her handbag it will give another sound, it will go silent or ring faster. Giving her a warning some pickpockets are around.
What to pay: 350 yen and up
What to buy:
Buy some souvenirs. Souvenirs in Japan are often something to eat. We didn´t particulairly like the sweets offered in nice boxes. Most sweets are filled with a sweet beanpaste. They look very nice, with special designs for Takayama.
Sembei (rice crackers) are great. They are sold in several different tastes from salted to sweet. In some shops you can see how they are made.
What to pay: Probably far too much. That is what the souvenir business is all about. We bought sembei for 300 Yen. The boxes of sweets costs from 700 Yen up to 1500 Yen.
What to buy: A speciality of Takayama is Sake. There are some breweries in Sannomachi, that sells sake in special decorated bottles. The breweries can be recognised by the ball hanging outside. And ofcourse by the bottles.....
There are some souvenir shop at the bus stop. Prize is average.
What to buy: You can find local craft or local food.
Very interesting street amoidst old private houses where some have been converted to become shops or restaurants.
What to buy: Shops here range from antiques to snack shops and souvenirs