Takayama, or Hida Takayama to its friends, is a few hours from Tokyo or a couple of hours from Kyoto, in Gifu prefecture. Its semi-isolation, high above the rest of the country and off the beaten track has given the city its own distinctive culture and character, and yet Takayama has played an important role in the life and history of Japan.
Mountains mean hiking, and hereabouts you find some of the best walking in the country.
Mountains also mean trees, and in the case of Takayama, trees have made the city the home of the craft of woodworking. Through the centuries the skills of Takayama’s men have contributed to the building of some of Japan’s most famous national treasures, the magnificent shrines and temples of Kyoto and Nara.
Because of its location, Takayama has been spared the worst of the ravages of modernisation and war. The old town is a wonderfully preserved time capsule of old buildings housing the local arts and crafts, and evoking the town in its most picturesque yore.
The old culture is also preserved in the several festivals throughout the year, the most famous being in October, during which the visitor can experience the distinctive costumes, dances and music of this city, not to mention the food and drink.
In summer, the city bakes under the sun like the rest of nation but in winter, the snow lies deep and the place turns into a wonderland, but its fascination is perennial. Take a look at our Takayama Festival Tour and Fuji Paths Tours
Train ride up the valley to Takayama
The ride up the twisting valley from Nagoya to Takayama on the JR Hida line takes just under 2 ½ hours.
The Takayama Festival
There are two festivals in the year, one in spring, one in autumn. We go to both on our Takayama Tours. On the first day of the tour the floats are brought out for display
The night parade on the first night
The parade on the second day
The Nakabashi Bridge
The Iconic Vermillion Bridge at the south side of the preserved area during the spring festival
The Nakabashi Bridge in winter
When the festival isn’t on
The street leading up to Sakurayama Hachimangu Shrine
The cedar ball outside a building indicates sake is on sale
The trail on the east side of town follows a route through a number of temples fashioned on the area with the same name in Kyoto.
Ayu no shio yaki (salted sweetfish)