Translated by Sandy Lau
Takayama Travel Guide – 15 Things To Do, Access, Festivals, And More
Written by MATCHA
Takayama is a sightseeing area in Gifu, filled with the charms of old Japan. Learn how to get to Takayama from Tokyo, Osaka, and Nagoya, recommended things to do such as visiting Shirakawa-go, sightseeing spots, festivals, and local food.
Takayama - The Charm of Traditional Japan
Takayama, a city in central Gifu Prefecture, is a popular sightseeing area where the ancient townscape of old Japan is preserved.
Many people visit from all around the world to see Sanmachi Street, where the oldest building dating from the Edo period stands, and the magnificent Takayama Festival that takes place every spring and autumn.
Additionally, the historic village of Shirakawa-go, a registered UNESCO World Heritage Site, is about one hour by car or bus from the city. Continue reading to learn about must-visit spots, popular events, and things to do in Takayama.
Table of Contents:
15 Things To Do In Takayama
┗ 1. Popular Spots and Hot Springs Near Takayama Station
┗ 2. Seasonal Events in Takayama You Can’t Miss
┗ 3. Food and Souvenirs To Look For
How to Get to Takayama
Access From Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya, and City Transportation
Hida Region Climate and Conclusion
Takayama - 15 Things to Do in the Area
We’ll introduce fifteen things you must do when visiting Takayama by splitting them into three categories: spots, events, and food and souvenirs.
1. Popular Spots and Hot Springs by Takayama Station
We’ve made a list of spots that you can easily visit by walking, bus, or taxi from JR Takayama Station. These places are conveniently accessed from the station, making it possible to visit four or five spots in one day.
1. Sanmachi Street: Walk Down Japan's Historical Streets
Sanmachi Street is a popular sightseeing area in Hida-Takayama. As an old town, the area has houses and stores from the Edo period (1603 - 1868). The area is lined with shops carrying local specialties such as Japanese sake, senbei (rice crackers), barbecue yakiniku Hida beef, and croquettes. The area has a lively atmosphere with people shopping and eating.
Sanmachi Street is a five-minute walk from JR Takayama Station. Be sure to stop by when you visit Takayama.
2. Hida Folk Village: See A View Similar to Shirakawa-go
Hida Folk Village, situated about ten minutes by Sarubobo Bus or a 20 minute walk from JR Takayama Station, is where we suggest travelers go who want to visit Shirakawa-go, but don’t have the time.
The village recreates the landscape of an old Japanese agricultural village with the relocation and reconstruction of thatch-roofed homes, similar to Shirakawa-go. You will enjoy the landscape filled with the charm of a thatch-roofed village during your visit.
Address: Gifu, Takayama, Kami-Okamotomachi 1-590 Google Map
Official Website: http://giftgift.sakura.ne.jp/03miru/hidanosato.html (Japanese)
3. Takayama Jinya: Delve into the Edo Period
Many old buildings still remain in Takayama, and Takayama Jinya is one of them. A government office was once called jinya during the Edo period.
There were 60 jinya at the end of the Edo period. This is the only building of its kind remaining in Japan. When you’re inside, you’ll see buildings and gardens that contain much of the same atmosphere as seen in Edo period-based films.
You should also visit the morning market held daily here, which sells fruits and vegetables in front of Takayama Jinya. It is open from 6:00 to around 12:00. Takayama Jinya is five minutes by Machinami Bus (counterclockwise) or an eight-minute walk from JR Takayama Station.
Address: Gifu, Takayama, Hachikenmachi 1-5 Google Map
Official Website: https://www.pref.gifu.lg.jp/foreign-languages/English/tourism/takayama/
4. Hida Kokubunji Temple: Head to a Famous Takayama Temple
Hida Kokubunji Temple, about a five-minute walk from JR Takayama Station, is a well-known Buddhist temple in Takayama. Its iconic three-storied pagoda was constructed in 1820. A Buddhist statue thought to have been made in the Heian period is enshrined in the main building. Be sure to take notice of the huge gingko tree on the grounds. It is over 1,260 years of age.
5. Hida-Takayama Festa Forest: See Festival Floats
Takayama Festival, held every year in April and October, is a very famous event in Takayama. The Hida-Takayama Festa Forest is a museum where you can see the lavish floats that appear in the festival during the off-season. Up to a total of eight large festival floats are on display, allowing you to experience a festive atmosphere at any time.
The museum is 15 minutes by taxi or 20 minutes by Sarubobo Bus from JR Takayama Station. It takes about 30 minutes by walking, so we recommend taking the bus.
6. See Sakurayama Hachimangu Shrine and Yatai Kaikan
Sakurayama Hachimangu Shrine in Takayama is the venue for the Takayama Festival in the autumn. Next to the shrine is the Takayama Festival Floats Exhibition Hall, or Yatai Kaikan, where four of the actual floats used in the festival are on display. The shrine is 15 minutes by Machinami Bus (clockwise) or a 20 minute walk from JR Takayama Station.
7. Kusakabe Folk Museum: View Historic Buildings
The Kusakabe Folk Museum is a historic private residence that was opened to the public. The building was constructed during the Meiji period in Edo architectural style. It is due to its splendid architectural technique, the entire building is designated as an Important Cultural Property of Japan. The museum is thirteen minutes by Machinami Bus (counterclockwise) or a fifteen-minute walk from JR Takayama Station.
8. Okuhida Onsenkyo: Relax in Natural Hot Springs
In Takayama, there is a hot spring area called the Okuhida Onsenkyo. You can lodge here, dip into the hot springs for day use, and use footbaths. Use the Nohi Bus on the Hirayu-Shinhotaka Line from JR Takayama Station to get to Okuhida Onsenkyo.
Transportation time to Hirayu Onsen is about one hour and costs 1,570 yen. It will take one hour and ten minutes and 1,810 yen to travel to Fukuji Onsen, and one hour and fifteen minutes and 1,820 yen to Shinhirayu Onsen. To Tochio Onsen, it is one hour and 20 minutes and costs 1,890 yen, and it is one hour and 30 minutes at 2,160 yen to get to Shinhotaka Onsen.
Address: Gifu, Takayama, Okuhida Onsenkyo Kansaka 710-14
Official Website: https://www.okuhida.or.jp/en/roten_catalog
9. Venture Further to the Historic Village of Shirakawa-go
Shirakawa-go is a place that anyone coming to Takayama should visit. The village is located a little further away from Takayama. In 1995, the picturesque area was registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site as part of the “Historic Villages of Shirakawa-go and Gokayama.”
The village is 50 minutes via Nohi Bus on the Takayama-Shirakawago/Toyama Line from Takayama. The fare is 2,600 yen.
2. Seasonal Events in Takayama You Shouldn’t Miss
Takayama is filled with seasonal things to do, like seeing cherry blossoms, autumn leaves, and local festivals. We’ll introduce events you’ll want to attend while in Takayama.
10. Admire Takayama’s Best Cherry Blossoms in Early April
The best time to see the cherry blossoms in Takayama comes every year around early April. Near JR Takayama Station, we recommend the cherry blossoms around Nakabashi Bridge, about a twelve-minute walk, and at Miyagawa Ryokuchi Park, eight minutes by taxi or a 20-minute walk from the station.
The cherry blossoms around Nakabashi Bridge are illuminated at night. You'll be able to enjoy a magical sight.
11. The April and October Takayama Festivals: See a Dazzling Tradition!
Takayama sees most of its crowds annually during the April and October Takayama Festivals. Over 200,000 people visit each spring and autumn to watch the parade of people dressed in Edo outfits and the glamorous floats. The spring venue is Hie Shrine, while the autumn venue is Sakurayama Hachimangu Shrine.
For details on the Takayama Festival, read Takayama Festival In 2019: Revisit Japan’s Edo Period In Gifu.
12. Admire Fall Leaves from Mid-October to Mid-November
Autumn is the season of the colorful foliage in Japan. The ideal time to see the leaves change in Takayama is from mid-October to mid-November. We recommend Shiroyama Park, about eight minutes by taxi, or a 20-minute walk, from Takayama Station. The sight of numerous trees with leaves dyed in oranges and reds is stunning.
Outside of the park, you can also enjoy the enchanting fall landscape at Hida Folk Village with the reconstructed old Japanese homes.
3. Foods and Souvenirs to Look for
Learn about popular local foods and must-get souvenirs when visiting Takayama!
13. Eat Takayama Ramen
Takayama ramen comes to many people's minds when thinking of local Takayama cuisine. This is ramen with a soy sauce-based soup, topped with green onions, char siu, and bamboo shoots. Ramen typically uses completely straight noodles, but Takayama ramen uses curly noodles.
There are numerous shops serving Takayama ramen both in front of the station and on Sanmachi Street, so how about making a stop for a meal?
14. Enjoy Exquisite Hida Beef
The livestock industry has flourished since long ago in nature-rich Gifu Prefecture. Restaurants serving dishes made with Hida beef, a local Gifu delicacy, line the front of Takayama Station and Sanmachi Street.
Kobe beef may be famous worldwide, but Hida beef has a delicious taste as well. Take this opportunity to try all kinds of Hida beef dishes, including steak, sukiyaki (a hotpot dish cooked in a shallow pan), and nigirizushi topped with rare meat, in the city its produced in.
15. Get a Sarubobo as a Souvenir
The word “sarubobo” means “baby monkey” in the regional Takayama dialect. They have been produced historically as good luck dolls in the region. It used to be common for the amulets to be red, as the color was considered to drive away infectious diseases.
However, nowadays there are also sarubobo amulets in blue, yellow, and pink. Prices vary depending on size, but a small strap sells for around 500 yen each.
How to Get to Takayama from Tokyo, Osaka, and Nagoya
We will introduce how to reach JR Takayama Station from major cities such as Tokyo, Osaka, and Nagoya.
Access from Tokyo
If you’ll be heading to Takayama from Tokyo Station, there will be two ways to get there by way of Nagoya or Toyama.
|Type of Transportation||Travel Time||Fare|
|Shinkansen (via Nagoya)||Roughly 4 hours and 30 minutes||13,930 yen and up|
|Shinkansen (via Toyama)||Roughly 4 hours||14,790 yen and up|
1. Traveling Via Nagoya: Tokyo Station (Tokaido Shinkasen) → Nagoya Station (JR Limited Express Wide View Hida) → Takayama Station
This will be your route if traveling by way of Nagoya. Head to Nagoya Station from Tokyo Station on the Tokaido Shinkansen, then transfer to the Limited Express Wide View Hida to travel to Takayama Station. It will take a total of four hours and 30 minutes. The fare will be 13,930 yen (ticket with an unreserved seat).
For those going with this method, be sure to utilize the Japan Rail Pass, which you can reserve online. The JR Pass allows holders to save yen on Shinkansen trips and JR trains throughout the country.
2. Traveling Via Toyama: Tokyo Station (Hokuriku Shinkansen) → Toyama Station (JR Limited Express Wide View Hida) → Takayama Station
This route travels through Toyama. Head to Toyama from Tokyo Station on the Hokuriku Shinkansen, then transfer to the Limited Express Wide View Hida to get to Takayama Station. The travel time is about four hours and the fare will be 14,790 yen (ticket with an unreserved seat).
Both Nagoya and Toyama are popular sightseeing areas. You may decide on your travel route by the region you wish to travel through.
Access from Shinjuku
An express bus that goes to Takayama also departs from Shinjuku. We recommend this method if you want to keep your travel expenses low.
Traveling by Express Bus: Shinjuku Bus Terminal → Takayama Bus Center
Nohi Bus or Keio Bus are buses that depart bound for Takayama. The bus terminal is Shinjuku Bus Terminal and it will be around 6,500 yen to get to the Takayama Bus Center. The travel time is a total of five hours and 30 minutes.
Access from Nagoya
You can get to Takayama by either train or bus from Nagoya Station.
|Type of Transportation||Travel Time||Fare|
|Shinkansen||Roughly 2 hours and 20 minutes||5,510 yen|
|Express Bus||Roughly 2 hours and 45 minutes||Around 3,000 yen|
1. Traveling by Train: Nagoya Station (JR Limited Express Wide View Hida) → Takayama Station
The fare will be 5,510 yen from Nagoya Station to Takayama Station by the JR Limited Express Hida. You won’t need to transfer. Travel time is a total of two hours and 20 minutes.
Similar to those coming from Tokyo, those using Nagoya Station will save yen and time by using the Japan Rail Pass, which you can reserve online.
2. Traveling by Express Bus: Nagoya Station (JR Tokai Bus, Meitetsu Bus, Nohi Bus) → Takayama Bus Center
Buses bound for Takayama operated by the JR Tokai Bus, Meitetsu Bus, and Nohi Bus leave from their respective terminals and gives you access to the Takayama Bus Center from Nagoya Station. Travel time is a total of two hours and 45 minutes while the fare is about 3,000 yen.
Access from Osaka
|Type of Transportation||Travel Time||Fare|
|Shinkansen||Roughly 3 hours and 30 minutes||9,820 yen and up|
|Express Bus||Roughly 5 hours and 20 minutes||Around 5,000 yen|
1. Traveling by Train: Shin-Osaka Station (Tokaido Shinkansen) → Nagoya Station (JR Limited Express Wide View Hida) → Takayama Station
If you’ll be leaving from Shin-Osaka Station to go to Takayama, you will need to make a transfer at Nagoya Station. Travel to Nagoya Station from Shin-Osaka Station by Tokaido Shinkansen, then head to Takayama on the Limited Express Hida. The travel time is a total of three hours and 30 minutes while the fare is 9,820 yen (ticket with an unreserved seat).
As mentioned above, using the Japan Rail Pass is recommended as it will save yen on train expenses. You can reserve the pass and see details by clicking here.
2. Traveling by Express Bus: Osaka Higashi-Umeda (Nohi Bus, Kintetsu Bus) → Takayama Bus Center
You can travel to the Takayama Bus Center from Osaka Higashi-Umeda by either the Nohi Bus or Kintetsu Bus. The travel time will be a total of five hours and 20 minutes, costing around 5,000 yen.
Travel Around Takayama City by the Hida-Takayama Tour Bus
It’s handy to use the Hida-Takayama Tour Bus when sightseeing within the city. There are two routes: the Machinami Bus, which travels around the west side of Takayama Station, and the Sarubobo Bus, which travels the east side. The fare for the Machinami Bus is 100 yen for both adults and children. The Sarubobo Bus is 210 yen for adults and 110 yen for children.
The One Day Open Ticket, which allows unlimited rides on the bus for one day, is also available. It can be used on both the Machinami Bus and Sarubobo Bus and costs 620 yen for adults and 310 yen for children. The pass can be purchased at the Takayama Nohi Bus Center near Takayama Station. Please note that it is not sold on the bus itself.
Takayama Nohi Bus Center
Address: Takayama, Hanasatomachi 6-65 Google Map
Climate in the Hida Region
Takayama’s climate is marked by its relatively cool summers and harsh cold winters. The highest temperature from May to June as well as October is about 20℃ while the lowest temperature stays around a pleasant 10℃, making these the months most recommended for Takayama sightseeing.
The highest temperature from July to September is 25-30℃ while the lowest temperature is 15-20℃. Many people visit Takayama from Tokyo to escape the summer heat as the area is nearly 10℃ cooler.
On the other hand, the highest temperature from December to February is 3-6℃ while the low hits between -3℃ to -6℃. Urban areas will sometimes receive snow between December and February, which may cause delays in transportation. When traveling, be sure to move and act with time to spare.
Enjoy Travel in Takayama
Takayama is where you can take in the sights of old Japan and have a memorable trip. Sightseeing spots in the city are near Takayama Station and accessible with public transportation, making it an easy area to travel in. Make visits to these charming sightseeing spots and satisfy your appetite with delicious food for a vacation filled with variety and fun.
Photos by Pixta. and Takayama City
Original Author: Tomomi Sawada