More than 600 m (2,000 ft) above sea lea level and surrounded by the brooding peaks of the Japan Alps, Takayama is a bustling market town known for its sake, traditional crafts, and biannual festival.
“Takayama has the feel of a small village, with all the benefits of an actual city. You can get a feel for traditional Japan, but still have a nice conveyor belt sushi meal or visit Queen's Court for karaoke.”
Takayama was once the home of Japan's most skilled carpenters and artisans, and the well-preserved streets and wooden houses on the banks of the Miyagawa River pay vivid testament to this fact. The buildings now house a multitude of craft shops and specialist food stores, in amongst which you'll find numerous sake breweries (open for tastings!) and museums covering all manner of things from mechanical dolls to the history of the Lion dance. Add in the two morning markets and it is no wonder that people fall in love with this place.
This generally quiet rural town is famous throughout Japan for its elaborate festival, which shatters the peace twice a year when tens of thousands of Japanese descend on the town to join the celebrations. Spectacular floats (called yatai) are raucously paraded through the streets by locals in traditional dress, and delicious street food is available from numerous make-shift stalls (also, confusingly, called yatai). Even if you are not in town during the festival you can catch a sight of the floats in the Yatai Museum.
Set amidst some lovely countryside in the hills overlooking the town, the traditional houses of the Hida Folk Village provide a great chance to see a side of Japan and everyday Japanese life which has all but disappeared. This remarkable collection of old gassho-zukuri ("praying hands") farm houses, complete with thatched roofs and irori fireplaces, has been moved here from all around the Hida area - where many faced destruction due to river damning projects. Painstakingly reconstructed by locals, you can sometimes watch the artisans at work as they care for the buildings and grounds and engage in traditional crafts.
Takayama is not, however, simply a place of tradition. Glimmering in the sunlight and visible from all over the town is the sweeping golden roof of the Sukyo Mahikari cult's World Shrine, adorned in the middle with a huge red cherry-like ball. Pay a visit and you will be welcome to look around the kitsch interior - complete with enormous fish tank!
The Teramachi district to the southeast of the town centre is home to some more conventional temples and shrines, and makes for a lovely afternoon stroll. The pine tree-lined paths are quite well marked in English. After taking this walk, why not indulge in some of the local speciality cuisine? You'll find lots of local soba noodles available, as well as the famed Hida beef, various hoba miso-based products, and the delicious mitarashi dango: rice balls dipped in soy sauce and roasted on skewers.
Recommended Accommodation in Takayama
The following are our favourites from among the western-style hotels and Japanese-style inns of Takayama.
Experiences in Takayama
Takayama offers a wealth of exciting experiences that will help you get beneath the surface of Japan's fascinating culture. See below for a few of our favourites
Weather in Takayama
The Climate Guide for Takayama, Japan is perfect for planning your holiday. Monthly weather averages give the best indication of what the weather is usually like for every month of the year including figures for temperature, rainfall and sunshine.
|Max Daytime Temperature (°C)||0||1||5||13||18||21||25||26||21||16||9||3|
|Min Night-time Temperature (°C)||-8||-8||-5||1||6||12||16||17||13||6||0||-5|
|Hours of Sunshine (Daily)||3||4||5||6||6||5||5||6||4||4||4||3|
|Hours of Daylight (Daily)||10||11||12||13||14||15||14||13||12||11||10||10|
|Heat and Humidity Discomfort||None||None||None||None||None||None||Low||Low||None||None||None||None|
|Days with some Rainfall||27||24||23||17||17||19||22||19||19||17||19||25|
|Monthly Rainfall (mm)||80||80||117||138||142||224||250||181||249||122||101||65|
|UV Index (Maximum)||2||4||5||7||9||10||11||10||8||5||3||2|
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