15 Best Things to Do in Takayama

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Located in Gifu Prefecture, Takayama prides itself on its colorful festivals and long-reaching heritage.

Surrounded by Japan’s Northern Alps and blessed with a long history, tourists can find many sights to see and sounds to hear during their visit to Takayama.

From colorful and well-crafted floats in museums to breathtaking hill-top views, one can enjoy spending time in this vibrant city.

Here are the 15 best things to do in Takayama:

Learn About the Region at Hida no Sato

View of Hida no Sato
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First created in 1971, stop by Hida no Sato or Hida Folk Village during your holiday to Takayama.

This place serves as an open-air museum where you can find buildings from the region preserved.

Here, you can experience what it’s like to live in the Hida region as it also features many of the traditions prevalent in the area.

View of Hida no Sato
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You can explore the buildings preserved here and learn about their role in the community.

It’s an experience you must consider while in Takayama.

Discover Temples at the Higashiyama Walking Course

Temples in Higashiyama Walking Course
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There are numerous temples in Takayama.

A great way to visit all of them is to go through the Higashiyama Walking Course.

The span of this walking course runs around 2.1 miles long, and you can complete it in more or less two hours.

The course features eight temples, including Daiouji Temple, which many know for its bell tower, and Hokkeji Temple, which many believe houses healing water.

Temples in Higashiyama Walking Course
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The walkway itself is significant and historical as a warlord made it in the 1500s who wanted to bring a piece of Kyoto to Takayama.

With all the amazing temples you can find here, it seems he succeeded with his plan, and to this day, the walkway welcomes many visitors from around the globe.

Get to Know a Famous Artist at Takayama Old Town Museum

When visiting the Old Town district of Takayama, make sure to check out the museum found here.

Formerly known as Honmachi Museum, this place features a collection of original paintings created by Yamashita Kiyoshi, whom many considered as Japan’s Van Gogh.

Apart from his amazing works, the museum also exhibits everyday items that one would have seen during the Showa Era when the said artist lived most of his life.

Some of these items include clocks, toys, signs, and even several motorbikes.

If you want to learn about the life of this interesting artist, you can head over to this museum, which is open daily from 9:30 am to 5:00 pm.

Visit the Takayama Morning Markets

A Sign in Jinya-Mae Morning Market
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When in Takayama, take some time to visit its morning markets.

Many tourists see these markets as popular tourist destinations when heading to this city in Gifu prefecture.

If you want to try out amazing local delicacies or shop for some to take home, don’t miss out on visiting these two markets.

View of Miyagawa Morning Market
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Two main Takayama markets exist - Jinya-Mae Morning Market and Miyagawa Morning Market.

You can find Jinya Mae right by Takayama Jinja, while Miyagawa Morning Market runs right next to the Miyagawa River.

These two markets open daily.

Between November and March, the markets run from 8:00 am to 12:00 pm.

Meanwhile, it opens from 7:00 am to 12:00 pm between April and October.

Take Part in the Famous Takayama Festival

A Float in Takayama Festival
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Takayama is popular for hosting one of the three most beautiful festivals in the country.

Collectively known as Takayama Festival, it includes the Sanno Festival, which takes place in spring, and the Hachiman Festival in Autumn.

Both of these festivals feature intricate floats paraded through town.

Floats in Takayama Festival
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It also features large taiko drums played during parades and events and many interesting marionettes puppeteered by artisans who aim to make this festival all the more colorful.

If you catch one of these festivals, be prepared to also witness fantastic Shishimai lion dancers and a huge crowd of people in elaborate costumes filling the streets.

It’s one of the best attractions in the city, and definitely check it out if you can.

Stop By Jingoro Ramen

Many also stop by Takayama to try out their popular ramen.

A lot of different types of ramen exist in Japan, and one of them is found in Takayama.

This city sets its ramen apart with its rich and flavorful broth being the main attraction of the ramen, instead of the toppings.

Usually, this rich broth is served with thin noodles for patrons to enjoy.

For the best ramen around, head on over to Jingoro Ramen and see what makes Takayama Ramen famous.

Explore the Old Town

View of Old Town
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Another popular Takayama activity is exploring the Old Town.

By just walking through the city’s historic district, your eyes will see a lot of amazing buildings.

Most of these have been made during the Edo Period, a historical period in Japan that took place between 1603 and 1868.

View of Old Town
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While in the city, you can walk through streets lined up with structures that will make you feel like you’ve stepped back in time.

While here, consider checking out Sanmachi Street, as it has some of the most well-preserved buildings around.

Taking a stroll here is always a good way to spend some time while in Takayama.

Check Out Matsuri no Mori

View of Matsuri no Mori
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Takayama boasts one of the most beautiful festivals in all of Japan.

Many from around the nation and around the world visit it for these events.

But if you can’t make it to when these festivals happen, check out Matsuri no Mori Museum.

This place exhibits the important aspects of the Takayama Festival.

View of Matsuri no Mori
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Here, you can find a hallway leading to the main exhibition space.

This part of the museum showcases 11 miniature floats, measuring around a third of the actual floats used during the festival.

Meanwhile, the main exhibition space exhibits full-sized replicas of the many floats used during the festival.

View of Matsuri no Mori
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Here, you can discover how intricate their designs are, and you can also find marionettes used during the festival.

Apart from those, you can also find large taiko drums, which many say are the largest drums in the world.

This is a museum you shouldn’t miss out on while in Takayama.

Try Out Hida Beef at Honba No Aji Maruaki

When it comes to food, many know Takayama for Hida Beef, which can even compete against the world-famous Kobe Beef.

One of the best places to try this out is Honba No Aji Maruaki, a butcher-owned restaurant.

Here, you can try many different and exquisite cuts of beef prepared in a variety of ways.

Apart from offering amazing-tasting meat, the service in the restaurant is also admirable.

Definitely check this place out when you’re in the city.

Pay a Visit to Takayama Jinja

View of Takayama Jinja
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Serving as a key building back in the Edo Period, consider heading over to Takayama Jinja while visiting Takayama.

The region surrounding the city, the Hida Region, has been known to house valuable timber resources.

Therefore, back in 1692, the Tokugawa Shogunate took direct control of it, and Takayama Jinja served as the office used by the local government.

View of Takayama Jinja
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Currently, it serves as a public museum, featuring several well-preserved rooms with tatami mat flooring.

You can even find an interrogation room inside!

Next to it is a rice storehouse that now also serves as a museum.

It exhibits documents and the belongings of officials who stayed here.

You can also find old maps of the region as well as the town plans of Takayama.

Examine the Floats at Takayama Matsuri Yatai Kaikan

Floats at Takayama Matsuri Yatai Kaikan
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Not everyone can catch the Takayama Festival.

For those who couldn’t, don’t fret as you can check out Takayama Matsuri Yatai Kaikan.

While it doesn’t provide you with the whole experience of bustling streets and loud taiko drums during events, you can catch a glimpse of the festival at this museum.

Here, you can find four of the floats used in the autumn festival, where you can examine them to discover Takayama’s outstanding craftsmanship.

These floats are a few hundred years old, and they have withstood the test of time.

Right next to Matsuri Yatai Kaikan is Nikkokan, where you can find models of the various Toshogu Shrine precincts in Nikko.

Many know Nikkokan as one of the most elaborately designed shrines in the country.

Apart from seeing the miniatures, you can also learn more about them as each display features a description both in Japanese and in English.

Get a taste of what Takayama is known for by checking this place out.

Be Awestruck by Glass Art Pieces at Hida-Takayama Museum of Art

Outside View of Hida-Takayama Museum of Art
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Many historical museums stand in Takayama, but you can also check out a gorgeous art museum during your visit to the city.

At Hida-Takayama Museum of Art, you can discover a collection of glass masterpieces and Art Nouveau works.

It features a Champs-Elysee water fountain made of delicate glass as its centerpiece.

Other works in this museum’s collection include masterpieces of popular artists like Dale Chihuly as well as Louis Comfort Tiffany.

The museum also offers amenities, like a cafe where you can hang out and a gift shop for four souvenirs.

It also offers a majestic view of the nearby park as well as Japan’s Northern Alps.

Recommended by the world-renowned Michelin Guide, take some time to visit this amazing museum.

Find the Best City View via the Kitayama Walking Course

If you want to stay active while sightseeing in Takayama, try going through the Kitayama Walking Course.

While not as popular as the Higashiyama Walking Course, this one also offers magnificent sights for you to witness.

The course lets you go through the Takayama Betsuin Temple Treasure House, and you also get to pass by the Festival Floats Exhibition Hall.

Ultimately, the pathway leads you to Kitayama Park or the Ayuzaki Castle Ruins.

From the park, you can witness an amazing view of the city as you can see the gorgeous historic district from here.

You can even catch the amazing sunset over the city from this park.

If you need a place to sit down after your trek, stop by Ichii Cafe, which stands near the top of the park.

Don’t miss out on the amazing city and sunset views you can check out at the end of this walking course.

Learn About the Showa Period at Takayama Showa Museum

Takayama had an important role in history, and you can see this reflected in how many museums stand in this city.

One of the museums you can visit is the Takayama Showa Museum.

This place features exhibits showcasing life during the Showa Period (1926 - 1989).

Inside Takayama Showa Museum
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Here, you can witness displays of “streets” lined with establishments and shops that contain memorabilia from the said period.

You can find replicas of anywhere from appliance stores to a barbershop as how they would have looked like during the show period.

You can even find a pro-wrestling exhibit here as a lot of people loved this form of entertainment back in the day.

Consider visiting here and have fun reminiscing about the best things to exist just a few decades ago.

Relax at Shiroyama Park

Buildings Near Shiroyama Park
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If you want to find a place to relax during your wanderings in Takayama, stop by Shiroyama Park.

Just five minutes from the Old Town District, you can head over here to take some time to yourself and relax.

From here, you can see many temples and stroll through a lot of footpaths that will take you to amazing spots within the city.

One interesting spot leads you to the Takayama Castle Ruins, where you can find the remnants of a great structure that once stood there.

Chery Blossoms in Shiroyama Park
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Some of the footpaths from the park lead you on top of a hill, where you can witness a majestic view of the snow-capped mountains nearby, which many have dubbed Japan's version of the Alps.

If you want to get into nature within a 5-minute walk from the busy street of Sanmachi, head into Shiroyama Park.

For a nice, relaxing time, don’t miss out on checking Shiroyama Park.

Final Thoughts

With its amazing festivals and an emphasis on heritage and culture, a visit to Takayama is definitely time well spent.

Discover the lively city of Takayama and get to know what makes this place noteworthy and special in Japan.

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