Translated by Jay Issei Karslake
The Gorgeous Takayama Festival: Highlights And Schedule In 2018
The Takayama Festival is held each spring and fall in Takayama, Gifu prefecture. With its fancy parade floats and traditional clothing, this festival is extremely captivating. It manages to transport the participants back to the Edo Period!
Written by MATCHA
What Is the Takayama Festival? Fall and Spring Editions
The spring festival (generally falling on April 14th - 15th) is an annual festival held at Hie Shrine in Takayama. Twelve yatai (*1) with fancy decorations go around the town in a parade. Hie Shrine is fondly called Sanno-san, so this festival is called the Spring Sanno Festival.
*1 Yatai: a large car-like object that is carried or pulled by a group of men during a Japanese festival. They're also called hikiyama, dashi, and danjiro.
The fall festival (generally falling on October 9th - 10th) is an annual festival held at Sakurayama Hachimanjingu. It's also called the Hachiman Festival. Eleven yatai that are completely different from those at the Sanno Festival travel through the streets at this time.
In both the spring and fall festivals, fancy yatai appear and there are many people parading around wearing traditional clothing, including kamishimo (*2).The town has an atmosphere that makes visitors feel as though they have traveled back through time to the Edo period. With the gorgeous yatai and processions to see in mind, 200,000 tourists will come to visit in the spring and fall.
Along with Kyoto's Gion festival and Saitama's Chichibu Night Festival, the Takayama Festival is counted as one of Japan's Three Hikiyama festivals (based on the number of yatai that appear in it). We've summarized the festival dates of 2018, the highlights of the festival, and how to get there below.
*2 Kamishimo: traditional formal men's attire.
Takayama Festival Schedule: 2018 Edition
The Takayama Festival will be held from April 14th to April 15th in the spring and from October 9th to October 10th in the fall. The 2018 schedule is listed below.
Spring festival: April 14th, 2018 and April 15th, 2018
Fall festival: October 9th, 2018 and October 10th, 2018
The yatai used during the spring festival have been designated one of Japan's Important Folk Culture Assets, so if the weather is rainy, the entire festival schedule will be canceled.
How to Get to the Takayama Festival Locations
To get to Hie Shrine and Sakurayama Hachimangu, the main stages of the Takayama Festival, it's best to go to the nearest train station which is Takayama Station.
** The yatai and festival lines are throughout the town, so you can see them at various spots throughout town and not just at the stages.
How to Get to Takayama Station from Tokyo Station
First, you will need to head to Nagoya Station from Tokyo Station via the Tokaido/Sanyo shinkansen. After reaching Nagoya Station, hop on the JR Limited Express Wide View Hida-Toyama bound train, and get off at Takayama Station. This will take four hours and 20 minutes, and cost 14,620 yen.
How to Get to Hie Shrine
It's a 25 minute walk from Takayama Station to Hie Shrine. On both April 14th and 15th, there are events such as the Yatai Hikisoroe held here. Hikisoroe refers to the practice of aligning the yatai along the streets of the town near Hie Shrine.
Address: Gifu, Takayama, Shiroyama 156
How to Get to Sakurayama Hachimangu
The main stage of the fall festival, Sakurayama Hachimangu, is a 20 minute walk from Takayama Station. On both October 9th and 10th, there are events such as the Karakuri performance, a play featurng mechanical dolls, and the Yatai Hikisoroe, where the eleven yatai are assembled together on the main path towards the shrine.
Address: Gifu, Takayama, Sakuracho 178
Official Website: http://www.hidahachimangu.jp/english/index.html
Sights to See at Takayama Festival (Spring, Fall)
Festival Processions: Go-shinko
During both the spring and fall festivals, there are long lines with hundreds of people parading around town in processions called matsuri-gyoretsu and go-shinko (involves moving altars with deities from one place to another). These rows of people parade through the streets, some carrying o-mikoshi, some performing the lion dance called shishimai (*3). Some of the participants wear wearing tokeraku, a type of colorful kimono native to the Hida area, with others are dressed formally as samurai.
You can see these processions at both the spring and fall festival.
*3 Shishimai: the lion dance, a traditional dance performed by one or more people while wearing a guardian lion costume including a wooden mask called a shishigashira.
Karakuri - A Performance of Mechanical Dolls
There are 23 different yatai involved in both the spring and fall festivals combined, and among them there are some that have karakuri dolls on them. Karakuri dolls are mechanical or clockwork dolls, also known as automatons. During the spring festival, these yatai are usually found close to the Takayama Festival Information Center, while during the fall festival, their performances take place within the Sakurayama Hachimangu shrine grounds.
You can see these performances at both the spring and the fall festival.
The Evening Festival - Yomatsuri/Yoimatsuri
The Takayama Festival also includes events performed after the sun goes down. During the spring the evening festival is called Yomatsuri, while during the fall, it is referred to as Yoimatsuri. Both festivals have the yatai traveling around the town with a hundred lanterns lit on each of them. Please enjoy the magical scenery of the night which differs so much from the dynamic pushing and carrying of the yatai during the day.
The spring Yomatsuri starts from 18:30 on April 14th, while the fall Yoimatsuri occurs between 18:00-21:00 on October 9th.
The Takayama Festival, which is full of historical appeal, is held only for two days each spring and fall. Whether you see one or both of the days, this festival is a must-see, and, hopefully, one that you can fit your schedule around.
|Address||Gifu, Takayama, Shiroyama 156 Hie shrine Gifu, Takayama, Sakura 178 Sakurayama Hachimangu, others|
|Accepted Credit Cards||Not Available|
|Nearest station||JR Takayama Station|
|Access||20-25 minute walk from JR Takayama Station|
** The information included in this article is based on official websites and is current as of March 2018. This information may be subject to change.