Takayama Travel Guide

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    Courtyard
    by toonsarah
  • In the waiting room
    In the waiting room
    by toonsarah
  • Takayama
    by RACCOON1

Takayama Highlights

  • Pro
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    Restless-in-kl says…

     Leisurely pace, clean fresh air and friendly people 

  • Con
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    TexasDave says…

     Can't think of any 

  • In a nutshell
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    TexasDave says…

     Definitely worth the 2+ hr train trip from Nagoya 

Takayama Things to Do

  • YAKAI IN STORAGE

    You can observe and take pictures of the Yakai before the parade(s).Close to half of them are stored in the Festival Floats Exhibit Hall and the remaining in their own personal Garage tucked away on side streets.Note: There are Twelve ' Yakai ' total.

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  • THE PUPPET SHOW

    The Karakuri Performance takes place at the Otabisho which is in and around Takayama Jinya.Two performances a day lasting about 20 minutes.Huge crowds show up so you have to stake out a place at least an hour before the performance to get close enough to see anything.

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  • Yoshijima Heritage House

    If you need a break/rest from the Yakai and Parade(s) there are some other things you can look for.There are a number ( say 5 ) of Heritage Houses which are open to the public such as the Yoshijima Heritage House along with many museums ( say 7) . There are a number of 'good' restaurant but you have to seek them out.

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  • Yakai Are Returned to Thier Home

    In and around 3:00 pm on Sunday the Yakai are hauled back to their Home(s).Again not an easy chore.

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  • GATHERING OF THE YAKAI

    The Yakai are pulled out of their homes just before the parade(s) and parked on the main street.This operation is interesting to observe as the process is not easy especially when turning corners. This attracts a very large crowd and the street(s) are packed even at the October Festival.

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  • Preserved private houses

    The oldest part of Takayama consists of three main streets that run north to south parallel to the river Miyagawa. From west to east these are Sannomachi, Ninomachi and Ichinomachi. The northern section of each has the prefix “Shimo” and the southern, “Kami”. All are lined with a variety of old homes, with perhaps the greatest concentration on...

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  • Sake tasting

    Several of the old houses in Takayama are sake breweries, as some have been for centuries. You can easily recognise these by the large white barrels outside and the distinctive spheres hanging above the entrance. These are known as sugidama and are the traditional sign of a sake brewery. Originally they were hung up whenever a new lot of sake was...

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  • Morning market

    There are two markets held every morning in Takayama and we went to one of these, that held on the banks of the Miyagawa in the old town. I have seen this reviewed on VT by one person at least as a “tourist trap” but I have to disagree. Yes, tourists come, but it was also clear to me that locals were here too, shopping for (mostly) fruit and...

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  • Takayama Matsuri Yatai Kaikan

    Takayama is famous throughout Japan for its two annual festivals, in the spring and autumn, known as matsuri – the first celebrating the planting season, and the second the harvest. Unfortunately we missed the harvest matsuri by just a day (accounting in part for the large crowds milling around the old town on the day of our arrival) but at least...

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Takayama Restaurants

  • Great Hida beef

    While Kobe beef is the best in the world, Hida beef is considered to run it a close second, and you can buy it everywhere in Takayama for a fraction of what you probably pay for much less good meat back home. As with Kobe, the secret is in the marbling and although it looks odd if you're unused to it to see fat running through the meat, it is this...

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  • A characterful coffee shop

    As we strolled south from the area around Sakurayama Hachimangu we were on the lookout for somewhere we might find rest and refreshment, and when we spotted a café in a traditional old building on Shimo-Ninomachi advertising cappuccinos, we knew we had found our place! Stepping inside we found ourselves in a fascinating old building with antiques...

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  • Great lunch stop

    We had spotted this small restaurant earlier in the day and thought it looked a good bet for a lunch stop, as indeed it did. We loved the quirky decor which had rather a kitsch feel, with old 1970s posters and an odd assortment of objects displayed (which continued into the toilet, by the way – do check it out if you come here!) The music played...

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  • Beef burgers to die for!

    Chris and I had both loved the Hida beef that Andrew had introduced us to on the previous evening so we decided to try one of the other restaurants he recommended here in Takayama, which also got a very favourable mention in my Lonely Planet guidebook (and incidentally is ranked #1 restaurant in the city on TripAdvisor) – a place known as Center4...

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  • Japanese noodle restaurant

    I ate Udon every travel but got Chuka soba and beer this year. Of course, You can eat Takayama morning meals. This time, the restaurant has made new tables. Udon, a Japanese noodle is easy to eat.

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  • A Shou-in

    This restaurant was located on the ground floor of the Best Western Hotel. Given that it was so freezing cold on the night of my birthday, we just didn't want to leave the building - so it was just as well we found this place. It was very quiet, but it was just perfect and the experience of cooking your own meal on the brazier was great.Shou is...

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Takayama Transportation

  • 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...

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  • 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...

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  • 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...

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Takayama Shopping

  • Shopping for souvenirs

    Towards the southern end of Kami-Sannomachi, near a couple of sake breweries, is this attractive small gallery selling original art, good quality prints and greetings cards. We wandered in so I could look at the latter and ended up being seduced by a fairly large limited edition woodblock print! We didn’t buy it immediately, having resolved not to...

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  • Souvenir shops

    There are some souvenir shop at the bus stop. Prize is average. You can find local craft or local food.

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  • Alcohol, pottery, cloth souvenirs

    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....

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Takayama Local Customs

  • Sarubobo

    I found these red-headed faceless figures a little spooky but they are very popular and you will see them all over Takayama, used as symbols in promoting shops etc. and available to buy as a souvenir in all sorts of forms, from little charms and key rings to large stuffed toys. Traditionally, these sarubobos were made by mothers and grandmothers to...

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  • A baby's blessing

    When we arrived in front of the Sakurayama Hachimangu Shrine we found the steps up to the shrine blocked by a family posing for formal photos. We stopped to see what was happening and a passing guide escorting another couple around (local but with excellent English) kindly stopped to explain to us that it is traditional here in Takayama to bring...

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  • A tatami mat workshop

    We saw a couple of these traditional tatami mat workshops on our travels in Japan (the other one was in Nikko), but unfortunately on neither occasion did we manage to catch anyone actually making the mats. Nevertheless it was interesting to see the weaving frames and tools used for this process.Tatami is the traditional Japanese floor covering and...

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Takayama Tourist Traps

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    Morning market in front of Takayama Jinja

    by tompt Updated Aug 5, 2003

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    In several guidebooks they mention the morning markets. We visited the one in front of Takayama Jinja and also the one along the banks of the Miya river from the Kaja bridge to the north.
    But its not really the traditional market you are looking for. Many stalls are selling souvenirs like the little faceless Takayama doll next to their fresh vegetables.

    Fun Alternatives: All this stuff is also for sale in the tourists streets.

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Takayama What to Pack

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    Takayama on my birthday - 15th April 2010 1 more image

    by arianne_1504 Written Jun 26, 2010

    Clothing/Shoes/Weather Gear: Though I went in mid April (supposedly Spring and yes apparently unseasonally cold), it snowed in town (again apparently rare for the time of year), I was a little unprepared and would suggest taking the following - beanie, gloves, scarf, thick jacket and jumper, thick socks (I wore three pairs of thin ones and could still feel the cold coming through my shoes). I would probably recommend tights or leggings underneath your jeans. I'm not kidding it was bloody freezing!! Days were still clear though - so sunglasses are recommended. Though the snow had melted by about 9am, it was still extremely cold during the day, and because I hadn't quite the appropriate clothing, it was probably a little less enjoyable than it could have been. Thank god for all those cosy little cafes in Takayama selling hot cocoa!!

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Takayama Off The Beaten Path

  • Yatai storehouses

    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...

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  • Hirayu Waterfall

    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...

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  • Shinhotaka Ropeway, Gorgeous mountain...

    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...

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Takayama Favorites

  • Japan's best dressed dogs?

    They say you are either a “cat person” or a “dog person”, and I am definitely the former. But there are many dogs that I find appealing too, and in Takayama there were plenty out on the streets with their owners. I was struck by how many of them were very smartly dressed in little coats. Also, some were carried in bags and one even in a pushchair....

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  • A river runs through it

    Takayama is a mountain town, and the river that runs through it, the Miyagawa, is a clear mountain one. Trout and carp flourish here, ducks bob on the water, and we also saw a heron waiting patiently for the chance to catch a fish, no doubt. The heron, because of its habit of staying motionless like this, is regarded as a symbol of Buddhist...

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  • Grocery shopping

    If you stay in a hostel and are on a budget and don't want to spend too much money on eating out then there is a huge place for grocery shopping not far from Takayama Station. The Tourist Info Booth outside the station got a good map and can give you directions. But it is not hard to find if you want to give it a go on your own.DIRECTIONSApprox....

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