Takayama, a city in Japan’s mountainous Hida region, offers everything from natural beauty to rich culture and great food. If you’re planning a trip to this charming city, make sure you add these top ten experiences to your itinerary.
Explore the Historic Old Town
Walking around the old town of Takayama is like stepping back in time. Stroll along narrow streets lined with traditional wooden houses and shops, many of which have been around since the Edo period (1603-1868).
The old town of Takayama is a must-visit destination for anyone interested in Japanese history and culture. The town is renowned for its well-preserved Edo-era streetscapes, which are a testament to the city’s rich heritage. The town’s historic district is a labyrinth of narrow streets and alleyways, each one offering a glimpse into the past.
As you walk through the old town, you’ll find yourself transported to a different era. The traditional wooden houses and shops are a stark contrast to the modern buildings that dominate many Japanese cities. The streets are lined with lanterns, which create a romantic and nostalgic atmosphere at night.
Visit the Takayama Jinya
The Takayama Jinya is a former government office that operated during the Edo period. This historic building now serves as a museum where visitors can learn about the city’s history and culture. The museum features exhibits on the city’s political and economic history, as well as displays on traditional crafts and folk art.
One of the highlights of the Takayama Jinya is the beautiful gardens surrounding the building. The gardens are especially picturesque in the fall, when the leaves change color and the air becomes crisp and cool. The gardens are a peaceful oasis in the heart of the city, and they offer visitors a chance to relax and reflect on the beauty of nature.
Stroll along the Sanmachi Suji District
The Sanmachi Suji district is one of the best-preserved areas in Takayama. This neighborhood is filled with charming old houses, shops selling local handicrafts and souvenirs, and restaurants offering traditional Hida cuisine. The district is a popular destination for tourists, and it’s easy to see why.
As you stroll through the Sanmachi Suji district, you’ll feel as if you’ve stepped back in time. The narrow streets and alleyways are lined with traditional wooden buildings, many of which have been converted into shops and restaurants. The district is especially enchanting at night, when the lanterns are lit and the streets are filled with the soft glow of their light.
Discover the Hida Folk Village
The Hida Folk Village is an open-air museum that showcases traditional village life in the Hida region. The museum features over 30 traditional houses and buildings, as well as exhibits on local crafts and folk art. Visitors can explore the village at their own pace, and there are plenty of opportunities to interact with the exhibits and learn about the region’s rich rural culture.
One of the highlights of the Hida Folk Village is the traditional houses. The houses are made of wood and thatch, and they’re designed to withstand the harsh winters of the Hida region. The houses are furnished with traditional furniture and household items, giving visitors a glimpse into what life was like in rural Japan centuries ago.
Overall, the Hida Folk Village is a fascinating destination that offers a unique insight into Japan’s rural heritage. Whether you’re interested in history, architecture, or culture, the village is a must-visit attraction.
Immerse Yourself in Nature
Takayama is a city located in the heart of Japan’s mountainous region, surrounded by stunning natural landscapes that offer breathtaking views and plenty of outdoor recreation opportunities. Whether you’re a nature lover or simply seeking a break from the hustle and bustle of city life, Takayama’s natural beauty is sure to captivate you.
Trek in the Higashiyama Walking Course
The Higashiyama Walking Course is a nature trail that leads hikers through forests, past waterfalls, and up to breathtaking viewpoints. The trail starts at the Higashiyama Temple and winds its way through the lush greenery of the surrounding forests, offering stunning views of the city and the surrounding mountains at every turn. As you make your way up the trail, you’ll come across a number of small shrines and temples, each with its own unique history and significance. Finally, the trail ends at the Shiroyama Observation Deck, where you can take in panoramic views of Takayama and the surrounding mountains.
Along the way, keep an eye out for the various species of flora and fauna that call this area home. If you’re lucky, you might even spot a Japanese macaque, a type of monkey that is native to this region.
Relax at the Hirayu Onsen
Hirayu Onsen is a hot spring resort nestled in the mountains near Takayama. The natural hot springs here are said to have healing properties and are a popular destination for those seeking relaxation and rejuvenation. Soak in the outdoor baths, surrounded by beautiful natural scenery and breathe in the fresh mountain air. The resort also offers a variety of spa treatments, including massages and facials, to help you unwind and de-stress.
After your soak, be sure to sample some of the local cuisine. Many of the restaurants in the area serve traditional Japanese dishes made with fresh, locally sourced ingredients.
Visit the Shinhotaka Ropeway
The Shinhotaka Ropeway is a cable car that takes visitors up to the 2,156-meter-high Shinhotaka Peak. From here, you can enjoy spectacular views of the Northern Japan Alps and the surrounding landscape. The ride up the mountain is an experience in itself, as you’ll be treated to stunning views of the forests and valleys below.
At the top, you can explore the observation deck and take in the breathtaking scenery. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can even hike to the summit of the peak, where you’ll be rewarded with even more stunning views.
Overall, Takayama’s natural beauty is truly awe-inspiring. Whether you’re exploring the Higashiyama Walking Course, relaxing at the Hirayu Onsen, or taking in the views from the Shinhotaka Ropeway, you’re sure to be captivated by the city’s stunning landscapes and rich natural heritage.
Taste the Local Cuisine
Takayama is known for its delicious, hearty cuisine that makes use of fresh, local ingredients. The town’s location in the Japanese Alps means that it has access to a wide variety of fresh produce, including vegetables, fruits, and mushrooms. The local cuisine is a reflection of the region’s natural bounty, and it’s not to be missed.
Savor Hida Beef
Hida beef is a highly prized type of Japanese beef that’s raised in the Hida region. This succulent meat is known for its rich flavor and tender texture. The cattle are raised in a stress-free environment, and they’re fed a special diet that includes beer and sake. This unique approach to raising beef results in a meat that’s incredibly flavorful and tender. Make sure to try it at one of the area’s many restaurants. You won’t be disappointed.
Try Takayama Ramen
Takayama ramen is a local variation of the popular Japanese noodle dish. The broth is made from soy sauce, pork bone, and chicken, giving it a rich, savory flavor that’s sure to satisfy. In addition to the traditional toppings of sliced pork, bamboo shoots, and green onions, Takayama ramen also includes a local specialty called sarubobo. These cute, little dolls are made from fabric and are said to bring good luck. They make a fun and unique addition to this delicious dish.
Sample Sake at a Local Brewery
The Hida region is known for its delicious sake, which is made from locally grown rice and pure mountain water. Take a tour of a local brewery and sample some of the area’s finest sake. The brewing process is steeped in tradition, and you’ll get to see firsthand how the rice is polished, fermented, and aged to create this delicious drink. The breweries themselves are often housed in traditional wooden buildings, and they offer a glimpse into the region’s rich cultural heritage.
Overall, Takayama’s cuisine is a highlight of any visit to the area. From the succulent Hida beef to the savory Takayama ramen and delicious sake, there’s something to please every palate. Make sure to come hungry and leave satisfied.
Attend Unique Festivals and Events
Takayama is a city that is proud of its unique festivals and events throughout the year, each with its own cultural significance. These events are not only a great opportunity to experience the local culture but also a chance to meet new people and make unforgettable memories.
Experience the Takayama Festival
The Takayama Festival is one of Japan’s most famous festivals, held twice a year in spring and autumn. The festival dates back to the 16th century and is celebrated to pray for a good harvest, prosperity, and protection from natural disasters. The parade features elaborate floats decorated with intricate carvings and ornate textiles. During the festival, the streets are filled with people dressed in traditional Japanese attire, and the atmosphere is lively and festive. You can also try some of the local delicacies sold by the street vendors.
Explore the Takayama Morning Markets
The Takayama Morning Markets are held every day in the old town and are a great place to start your day. The markets offer a wide variety of fresh produce, crafts, and souvenirs. You can find locally grown fruits and vegetables, handmade crafts, and traditional Japanese sweets. Try some of the street food available and browse the many unique items on offer. The vendors are friendly and always happy to share their knowledge of the city.
Participate in the Hida Furukawa Matsuri
The Hida Furukawa Matsuri is a festival held in the nearby town of Hida Furukawa. The highlight of this festival is a procession of men carrying large decorated shrines through the streets. The festival dates back to the 17th century and is celebrated to pray for good health and a good harvest. The procession is accompanied by traditional Japanese music, and the streets are lined with food stalls and vendors selling souvenirs. The festival is a great way to experience the traditional Japanese culture and make new friends.
With so much to see and do in Takayama, you won’t be bored for a second. Whether you want to immerse yourself in nature, explore the city’s rich history and culture, or sample some of the area’s delicious cuisine, Takayama has plenty to offer. Don’t forget to bring your camera to capture the beautiful memories of your trip to Takayama.