By train to Takayama
We had been staying in Kyoto prior to visiting Takayama and travelled here by train. Firstly we took the bullet train to Nagoya, which took about 40 minutes and was as comfortable as always.
We had some time at the station in Nagoya to shop for bento boxes for our lunch, and then boarded the JR Hida Limited Express, a diesel train. This was considerably slower than the bullet train and much shorter in length, but it had comfortable seats with lots of leg room, and in some ways it was nice to be travelling more slowly and be able to appreciate the countryside we were passing through, especially as the route runs through a mountainous area with scenic gorges, forested hillsides and some lovely views. There were tourist-focused announcements from time to time, in English as well as Japanese, pointing out places of interest, features of the landscape and so on.
The journey from Nagoya to Takayama took two hours 20 minutes, and from Kyoto to Takayama was about three and a half hours altogether. There is some useful information about alternative ways to get here, especially if coming from Tokyo, on the Japan Guide website.
When we arrived in Takayama we paused briefly at the tourist information booth immediately outside the station to pick up some maps and then headed for our hotel, which was just across the road.
A very walkable city
The main sights of Takayama are all located in and around the old town, apart from the Hida Folk Museum (which we didn’t manage to find the time to visit, unfortunately). With that one exception you should find that you can easily do all your sightseeing on foot, although if you want to rest your feet and tour in style, rickshaws can be hired in the old town.
It’s quite easy to orientate yourself here. The Miyagawa River flows through the city from north to south, with the historic town on its east side. To the west of the river lies the new town and the station. Between the station and the bridge over the river is a walk of perhaps 10-15 minutes, depending on how many of the interesting shops grab your attention as you pass! There are plenty of signs to help you find your way to the various tourist sights, but unusually these are set into the pavement so you need to look down to spot them.
And talking of looking down, watch out too for the decorative manhole covers which are among the prettiest designs of those we saw on our travels. They feature rhododendron flowers, the symbol of the city of Takayama (see photo two).
Having got out bearings we headed for the old town to see the streets of preserved private houses, as they are usually described.
Leaving Takayama by bus
We had arrived in Takayama by train but this isn’t the only transport option here, and when we left a few days later, bound for Kamikochi National Park, it was by bus. The bus station is just next to and north of the train station, and has a small waiting area with the ubiquitous vending machines – very useful for stocking up on provisions for the journey or an extra morning coffee. There’s plenty of seating and you can take advantage of the free wifi if you’re going to be here any length of time.
Our bus arrived exactly on schedule (at bus stand five) and was to take us from Takayama to Hirayu in about an hour, the first leg of our two bus journey. These are just local buses, not designed for tourists on lengthy visits to Japan, so we had used the excellent Japan Rail luggage forwarding service to send most of our luggage to Tokyo, where we were heading after Kamikochi, and took only small overnight bags on this trip. The buses were quite full and we were very glad we didn’t have more bags to accommodate.
The buses are operated by the Nohi bus company and there’s a timetable for this route here. You’ll see that the same company serves some other popular tourist routes too. We had prepaid our bus fare as part of our payment to Inside Japan before the trip, but I note from the company’s website that a round trip from Takayama to Kamikochi and back currently (winter 2013) costs 4,900¥ or about £28 or $46.
This is my final Takayama tip; please return to my intro page if you’d like to leave me a comment.
Takayama on Two Legs
You shouldn't need to use anything other than your legs to get around Takayama as the town itself is quite small. However, for the few tourist attractions that are outside the town limits - try the Takayama City Bus, which you can catch from Takayama Station.
- Budget Travel
Shin-Hotaka ropeway is located in Shin-Hotaka Onsen. The tramway give you the station 2156 meters high, where you can go to the mountain guest house over 2300 meters high by foot. And there is a outside spa around the station over 1300 meters high. I am sorry that when I visited there two time February 9th and 11th, I could not take a bath because of heavy rain.
- Mountain Climbing
- National/State Park
One day bus ticket
You should buy a one-day bus ticket. It is available and reasnable when you go around in the city. If you go to and from Shin-Hotaaka where is about 90 minutes far from Takayama, you can buy a two-days bus ticket. If you come from Tokyo area, Takayama - Tokyo (Shinjuku) Line is available.
- Road Trip
High way bus to Shirakawa-go
It is about 1.5-2 h from Takayama to Shirakawago by high way bus.
Takayama bus terminal is infront of JR Takayama station.
The bus schedule:
From Takayama to Shirakawago: 8.45; 9.30; 11.10; 14.40; 15.20
From Shirakawago to Takayama: 10.05; 12.15; 14.20; 16.05; 17.15
Runs all year, but schedule a little changes Dec.–Mar.
Reservation is required (by phone, they can speak English).
Nohi Bus: Tel. (0577)32-1688
Fare: ¥2,400 one way, ¥4,300 round trip.
Wide-view trains to Takayama
Getting to Takayama is very easy. If you are traveling from other parts of Japan, the easiest way is to take the Shinkansen (bullet train) to Nagoya. In Nagoya, change trains and take the Wide View Hida line trains. The trains have extra wide windows for people to be able to take in the fabulous views on the way to Takayama. The journey from Nagoya takes a little over 2 hours. The trains leave on an hourly basis.
- Study Abroad
JR Train Station
I think most tourists arrive in Takayama via Japan Rail. It is a little over a two hour trip from Nagoya Station and has a delightful view of the mountains, a river and a few small towns. The station itself is very small and is situated very near to most of the places of interest for tourists.
Tours operate daily from Nohi Bus terminal. In addition to sightseeing, these tours include various activities and attractions, but please note that no English-speaking guide is provided. The cost includes entrance fees.
It's an easy way to get around also, not speaking the language can be an asset as you can see things in your own way, rather than being stuck with the group.
Ask at Takayama Information Desk near the Takayama Station. Or at your Hotel.
- Historical Travel
Tokyo To Takayama By Bus
By highway bus:
There are 5-7 direct highway bus round trips per day between Tokyo (Keio Highway Bus Terminal in Shinjuku) and Takayama operated by Keio and Nohi Bus. The one way trip takes 5.5 hours and costs 6,500 Yen. A round trip ticket costs only 11,700 Yen, but the return trip has to be made within seven days of the outward journey.
https://www.highwaybus.com/ Only in Japanese
- Road Trip
- Historical Travel
Tokyo To Takayama By Train
Take the JR Tokaido Shinkansen from Tokyo to Nagoya (100-120 minutes, several trains per hour) and then transfer to the Hida limited express train to Takayama (140 minutes, one train per hour). The one way fare by unreserved seat is 13,540 Yen. By reserved seat it is about 14,200 Yen.
Travelling with a JR Rail Pass will save you so much money!
The above fees and schedules are of course subject to change.
- Historical Travel
Hida Wideview to Takayama
We used our JR Pass to get to Takayama from Nagoya. The trip took about 2 hours in a special Wideview Train, which has large square windows so you can take in the view.
look at the ground
When walking around Takayama look to the ground once in a while. At many corners in the centre of town are special stones in the footpath. They are telling you the way to the tourist locations.
Takayama can be easily reached by train or bus.
The main tourist sites are all in walking distances.
And if you don´t feel like walking you can take a rikshaw.
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