Takayama Hida Folk Village head
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Travel Guide to Takayama, Japan


If you are looking for a place to experience the traditional and rural side of Japan, Takayama is the perfect destination for you. Takayama is a charming city in the Hida region of Gifu Prefecture, surrounded by the majestic Japanese Alps. In this Takayama travel guide, we will show you how to explore Takayama and discover its rich history, and culture. You will also find out the best things to do in Takayama, such as visiting the old town, enjoying the local festivals, and taking day trips to nearby attractions.

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Takayama Overview

Nestled in Japan’s mountainous Hida region, Takayama, often known as Hida-Takayama, boasts a charmingly preserved old town. Traditional wooden houses, sake breweries, and local delicacies characterize this picturesque city. Acting as a portal to the Japan Alps, it offers diverse outdoor activities throughout the year. Takayama’s highlights include the historical Takayama Jinya, showcasing the feudal era’s administrative center, and the delightful Sanmachi area with its narrow streets lined with ancient buildings, shops, and cultural sites.

Moreover, the city hosts the celebrated Takayama Festival, a biannual event featuring stunningly adorned floats, traditional performances, and captivating displays. Not far from Takayama lie the UNESCO World Heritage Sites, Shirakawa-go and Gokayama, renowned for their unique gassho-zukuri farmhouses. These sites provide a glimpse into a life intertwined with nature, where villagers uphold their cultural heritage and traditions amidst the serene landscape.

Top Things to Do in Takayama

Here are some top activities in Takayama. Each of these experiences offers a window into Takayama’s rich cultural tapestry and historical significance, inviting visitors to immerse themselves in its captivating heritage.

  • Historical Government House (Takayama Jinya): Explore this former administrative center dating back to the 17th century. The site provides a peek into the Edo period’s local government setup under the rule of shoguns. Witness original rooms, exhibits, and gardens while learning about Takayama’s history, culture, and daily life of officials and staff.
  • Scenic Views at West Hotaka Station Exit: Experience breathtaking views of the Japanese Alps from this cable car station leading to Mount Hotaka’s summit. You can hike, ski, or unwind in the nearby hot springs while admiring the panoramic vistas of snow-capped peaks, valleys, and forests.
  • Sanmachi Suji District Exploration: Wander through this charming area featuring old wooden houses, shops, and breweries. Sample local treats like Hida beef, sake, and miso while basking in the nostalgic charm of Takayama’s preserved old town.
  • Hida Folk Village: Step into an open-air museum showcasing rural life in the Hida region. Witness thatched-roof houses, folk art, and various farm tools while learning about traditional crafts and construction techniques.
  • Takayama Festivals: Attend the famous spring and autumn festivals featuring elaborate floats, processions, and vibrant performances. These celebrations honor local history and deities, boasting intricately adorned floats parading through the streets by day and night, accompanied by music and mechanical puppet shows.
Japan Takayama Hida Folk Village
Traditional thatched-roof houses in Hida Folk Village

Where to Stay in Takayama

If you’re seeking the best spots to stay in Takayama, here’s a breakdown of some fantastic areas and hotels:

1. Sanmachi-suji District:

Immerse yourself in the historic heart of Takayama. Experience the charm of old Japan amidst narrow streets lined with wooden houses, shops, and cultural sites. Two recommended hotels in this area are:

Ryokan Asunaro: A traditional Japanese inn offering tatami rooms, futon beds, and private bathrooms. Enjoy the natural hot spring bath, free Wi-Fi, and a delightful breakfast just a short walk from Sanmachi-suji streets and Takayama Station.

Oyado Koto No Yume: A modern ryokan with spacious rooms, comfortable beds, and chic decor. Experience the public bath, sauna, and a free shuttle to Takayama Station, all within walking distance of Sanmachi-suji streets and Takayama Station.

2. Central Takayama:

For a mix of modern and traditional Japanese culture, the downtown area is perfect. Catering to various tastes and needs, it’s filled with shops, bars, restaurants, and convenience stores. Here are a couple of recommended hotels:

eph TAKAYAMA Hotel: A stylish boutique hotel with contemporary rooms, a fitness center, and a lounge bar. It’s a short walk from Sanmachi-suji streets and Takayama Station, offering convenience and comfort.

Country Hotel Takayama: A budget-friendly option with simple rooms, a breakfast buffet, and free Wi-Fi. Close to both Sanmachi-suji streets and Takayama Station, it’s a practical choice for travelers.

3. Takayama Station Area:

The main transport hub offers a wide array of hotels, convenience stores, and restaurants. Ideal for travelers keen on exploring other parts of the region, here are a couple of recommended hotels:

Hotel Associa Takayama Resort: A luxury resort with spacious rooms, hot spring baths, and various dining options. Enjoy mountain views and a free shuttle to Takayama Station, offering both luxury and convenience.

Super Hotel Hida Takayama: A comfortable stay with compact rooms, air conditioning, and a hot spring bath. It’s a short walk from both Sanmachi-suji streets and Takayama Station, ensuring easy access to amenities.

Takayama Ryokan Asunaro
Takayama Hotel - Ryokan Asunaro

How Many Days to Stay in Takayama

Depending on what you’re keen on doing, the time you spend in Takayama can vary. Here are some suggested durations based on information found online:

  • If you’re aiming to explore the main sights within Takayama City, setting aside one full day should suffice.
  • For those wanting to delve into Takayama City and possibly take a day trip to a neighboring town like Shirakawa-go or Hida Furukawa, allocating around two days is ideal.
  • To soak in Takayama’s allure while also venturing to other parts of the Japan Alps, such as Kamikochi or Norikura, planning for three to four days would be recommended.
Japan Kanazawa Shirakawa-go
Shirakawa-go in Winter

Takayama Weather & Best Time to Visit Takayama

Takayama welcomes visitors throughout the year due to its moderate climate. However, each season offers distinct experiences depending on your preferences and interests.

Spring (March to May): 

This season reveals the beauty of cherry blossoms and vibrant flowers in Takayama. The weather is generally pleasant, though it can range from cool to warm. The renowned Takayama Festival on April 14 and 15 draws numerous visitors, so booking accommodation and transportation in advance is recommended.

Summer (June to August):

Takayama’s summer brings warmth without excessive heat, with cooler evenings compared to other regions in Japan. However, a rainy period from mid-June to late July might impact outdoor activities. Carrying an umbrella or raincoat could be beneficial.

Autumn (September to November): 

Autumn paints Takayama in breathtaking colors as the foliage changes, creating a picturesque landscape. The weather remains comfortable and dry, offering a less crowded experience compared to spring. Another Takayama Festival on October 9 and 10 showcases intricate floats and processions.

Winter (December to February): 

Takayama’s winter brings cold temperatures and snow, potentially affecting travel. Yet, if you revel in snowscapes, this season presents a winter wonderland and the chance to indulge in the area’s hot springs. With reduced prices and fewer tourists, it can be an appealing time to visit.

Takayama Transportation: How to Get to and Travel around

How to Get to

Fastest Route: Board the JR Tokaido Shinkansen from Tokyo to Nagoya. Then, switch to the JR Hida limited express train headed to Takayama. The journey spans roughly 4.5 hours, priced at approximately 14,500 yen for a single trip.

Alternative Shinkansen Route: Travel via the JR Hokuriku Shinkansen from Tokyo to Toyama, then transfer to the JR Hida limited express train to Takayama. The journey lasts about four to five hours, costing around 16,000 yen for a one-way ticket.

Budget Option: Consider a highway bus from Busta Shinjuku in Tokyo to Takayama. These buses take around 5.5 hours and cost between 6,500 and 7,000 yen.

Scenic Train and Bus Route: Take a train to Matsumoto or Kanazawa from Tokyo and then a bus to Takayama. The journey from Tokyo to Matsumoto costs around 6,500 yen and takes about 2.5 hours. From there, the bus ride to Takayama takes around 2.5 hours and costs about 3,000 yen. If traveling to Takayama from Tokyo to Kanazawa, the train journey costs around 14,000 yen and takes around 2.5 hours, followed by a 2.5-hour bus ride to Takayama, costing around 3,400 yen.

Shinkansen from Tokyo to Toyama
Shinkansen from Tokyo to Toyama

How to Travel Around

Takayama is a small city that is perfect for exploring on foot or by bicycle. Most attractions are conveniently close to the station, with the exception of the Hida no Sato open-air museum and the Matsuri no Mori festival museum, which can be accessed by bus or taxi.

For those interested in visiting places like Shirakawa-go, Kamikochi, or Shinhodaka Onsen, there are two main options: bus or rental car. Buses regularly depart from the bus terminal near Takayama Station, providing service to these destinations. Alternatively, rental car services are available from various companies near the station, offering greater flexibility and convenience.

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