If you want to experience the Japanese Alps in Gifu Prefecture, you should not miss the city of Takayama. The town and small dreamy center invite you for long walks and relaxation in traditional Japanese surroundings. In this Takayama itinerary, we try to find the perfect balance between wonderful nature and the scenic town center of Takayama.
Not only hiking enthusiasts will fall in love with the idyllic town. Some visitors list the things to do in Takayama and the city center among the favorites of their Japan trip. As you can see, a visit is worthwhile in any case.
So here we would like to discover with you this captivating Japanese city, which has preserved its charm over many years and convinces its visitors with its tranquility and serenity every time anew. So now let’s experience the best of Takayama in one day together. In addition, in the following lines, you will also find a few practical travel tips for your trip to Takayama, Japan.
- Also known as Hida-Takayama to distinguish it from the other Takayamas in Japan.
- Takayama can be translated as high mountain
- In the past, Takayama was especially famous for carpentry
- is located about 115 km from Kanazawa
TAKAYAMA INFO BOX
The best popular tours and activities in Takayama
Getting there: Make sure to check for flights in advance on flight comparison sights like Skyscanner
Transport on-site: Best on foot, by public transport, or the hotel shuttle buses
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Takayama Must-Have: Japan Travel Guide
How to get to Takayama
Getting to Takayama from Kanazawa
Price: 3390 Yen (ca. 25,30 €)
There is a bus from Kanazawa to Takayama several times a day. The trip takes about 2 hours.
However, we recommend you make a small stop in Shirakawago one the way. Shirakawago is located halfway and is a small traditional Japanese village in the middle of nature. (For more information you can find my guide to Shirakawago here).
Getting to Takayama from Matsumoto
Price: 3190 Yen (ca. 23,85 €)
There is also a bus connection from Matsumoto to Takayama several times a day. The trip takes about 2.5 hours.
Another option is the train from Matsumoto to Takayama via Nagoya. However, the train not only takes more time but also costs around 10,500 yen.
Takayama Itinerary for One Day in Takayama
Sanmachi Suji District
Let’s start our visit to Takayama right in one of the most beautiful districts and one of the main reasons to travel to the Japanese alpine city, the Sanmachi Suji district. Even if the old city center includes only three streets, the impression that this small district leaves on its visitors is huge.
As you stroll through the narrow streets of this Takayama district, you almost feel a bit transported back to ancient Edo, in the days of the samurais. With the traditional houses on the streets, you can imagine exactly how it must have once looked here.
Also known as Little Kyoto, the district enchants its visitors with traditional wooden buildings, small stores, restaurants, cafes, and of course Takayama’s famous sake breweries. This brings us to the next item on our list of Takayama attractions.
Extra tip: The Sanmachi Suji district is not only one of the most beautiful, but also one of the most visited districts of Takayama. Therefore, it’s worth getting here quite early to avoid the crowds. Especially if you want photos of this charming district, the early bird catches the worm.
Sake Tasting in Takayama
Where? Various options in Takayama, e.g. Harada Sake Brewery, Niki Sake Brewery, Hirase Sake Brewery, Funasaka Sake Brewery, Hirata Sake Brewery.
Price: from 200 Yen (ca. 1,50 €)
Our highlight in Takayama was the sake tasting. For those who don’t know, sake is a rice wine and one of the most famous drinks in Japan.
We chose Harada Brewery for our sake tasting. However, there are also quite a few other vendors in downtown Takayama. Besides signs, you can recognize the sake breweries, especially by the typical traditional sake barrels (mostly they are white with colorful decorations), which are often placed in front of the breweries’ entrance.
For the price of admission, you not only get to keep the tasting glass in typical Japanese style, but you also get to try a sample of each of the twelve types of sake on display. I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that we tried all twelve. Most only sampled a few of the sake varieties, but we bravely fought our way to the end.
One more little tip at the end: It’s best not to visit the sake tasting until after you’ve eaten something. You certainly don’t want to leave the store swaying.
Our favorite, by the way, is the dry sake.
The Yoshijima Heritage House
Opening Hours Yoshijima House: 09 am – 05 pm (Dec. – Feb.: 09 am – 04.30 pm); Tuesdays closed
Entrance Fee Yoshijima House: 500 Yen (ca. 3,50 €)
The Takayama region is known in the surrounding area for its longstanding carpentry traditions. An excellent place to admire them is the Takayama Yoshijima Heritage House in the center of the city. The magnificent building was built in the very early 20th century and is one of the most precious buildings in Takayama.
Especially visitors who are interested in (Japanese) architecture should not miss this magnificent building. But it is also worth a visit for non-architecture professionals. The interplay of discreet beams and strong wooden pillars in traditional Japanese style is truly impressive.
Incidentally, the large sphere that hangs over the entrance to the Yoshijima House was designed to mark traditional sake breweries in the past. The large ball is made of cedar branches woven in a traditional way.
The Takayama Morning Market
Opening Hours Morning Market: 07 am – 12 pm (November – March: 08 am – 12 pm)
Entrance Fee Morning Market: free of charge
Another recommendation for your stay in Takayama is to visit one of Takayama’s two morning markets. You can walk along the river until 12 o’clock in the afternoon and discover in the Miyagawa morning market what the people of Takayama have to offer. Besides souvenirs, you can also find a wide selection of fresh local delicacies. For example, we liked the cubes made of egg foam.
The Jinya Mae morning market, on the other hand, is a bit smaller. It is more reminiscent of a small traditional weekly market as we know it in Central Europe. Mostly fresh fruits and vegetables are offered here. Popular with locals, the market is located next to the Takayama Jinya building.
The Higashiyama Walk
While walking through Takayama, you will always encounter a bunch of different small temples. The further you walk, the more beautiful temples you can find along the way. This large selection of temples in Takayama is not just purely coincidental. Because along this beautiful nature trail there are 12 different Japanese temples and shrines.
The path begins at Higashiyama Temple and leads to Shiroyama Park over a beautiful 5 km long stretch. Here, you will also find the ruins of the castle, once so important for Takayama. Some of the shrines lead you into the entrance of the forest. The trees surrounding the temples create a particularly peaceful atmosphere.
In general, the path is more of a walk than a hike, and therefore quite easy to master. However, I recommend that you wear some comfortable shoes while exploring the temples and the surrounding nature of Takayama.
Alternative route: If you are not particularly interested in the temples, you can also follow the Kitayama Walking Course. You can find maps for this course at the local tourist information office.
Whether you follow the Higashiyama trail just described or just visit the park, it’s well worth a visit. Conveniently, the popular park is located within a short walking distance from Takayama’s city center.
Shiroyama Park was once one of the most important places in the region. This is because the magnificent Takayama Castle was formerly located here. Today, unfortunately, all that remains of this castle is a small ruin. It’s located on the top of the hill in the park and can be considered a fantastic target point for your walk through the park.
Opening Hours Hida: 08.30 am – 05 pm
Entrance Fee Hida: 700 Yen (ca. 5 €)
Getting to Hida: 25 minutes walk or 10 minutes by Sarubobo Bus from Takayama Station Nohi Bus Center
If you want to delve deeper into Japanese history, tradition and architecture, you should definitely visit Hida-no-Sato. The small museum village of Takayama is located less than two kilometers from the center of Takayama.
The magnificent buildings in the traditional Japanese folk village style (more precisely the Gassho-Zukuri style) attract visitors from all over the country and are a real dream for all lovers of Japanese architecture. Some of the buildings are even more than 500 years old.
You could actually spend several hours here. Because believe me, no one will get tired of these picturesque houses so quickly.
Takayama Festival Floats Exhibition Hall
Opening Hours Takayama Festival Floats Exhibition Hall: 09 am – 05 pm (Dec. – Febr.: 09 am – 04.30 pm)
Entrance Fee Takayama Festival Floats Exhibition Hall: 900 Yen (ca. 6,50 €/$ 6.50)
If you are lucky enough to visit Takayama during the twice-yearly festival (one in April and one in October), don’t miss this unique opportunity. During the Takayama Matsuri (festival), people pray for a good harvest in April, while in October they thank the gods for the past harvest.
During the two days of the festival, the entire city is on its feet to carry festival floats (yatai) through the streets in parades to honor the gods. And it is exactly these wooden floats that you can admire in the Takayama Festival Float Exhibition Hall.
Some of the floats are huge and decorated with different colors and materials. If you are interested in Japanese culture and architecture, you will surely be impressed.
Note: In the Exhibition Hall, you will usually find only a small part of the floats, which are presented depending on the season. If you are not absolutely interested in these floats or Japanese art, it may well not be worth the entrance fee for you.
Try the delicious Hida Beef
Surely you have heard of Kobe beef. The meat of such cattle from the Kobe region is considered one of the most expensive meat dishes in the world and is said to be of exceptional quality. However, what many people don’t know is that beef from the Hida region is also held in very high regard in Japan.
So if you are a fan of Japanese food and have no problem eating meat, you should definitely try this delicacy during your visit to Takayama. There are various types of restaurants or even street food vendors that serve the region’s precious meat.
Where to stay in Takayama
The best Budget accommodation in Takayama
The 1-star Sakura Guest House offers travelers on a budget a fantastic stay in Takayama. The small cozy guesthouse is located within walking distance from the Hida Takayama Open Air Museum and offers its guests various comfortable dormitories.
Visitors especially appreciate the coziness of the rooms, the friendliness of the staff, and the quiet environment.
The best middle-class Hotel in Takayama
The three-star Hotel Tabino Hida Takayama is one of the favorites of many travelers in Takayama. With its traditional style, its cozy rooms, and its spa area with onsen, the hotel simply convinces everyone. The hotel is located a bit out of town, but is regularly served by the hotel’s own shuttle.
The best Ryokan in Takayama
The 4-star Ryokan is a real experience for a stay in Takayama. In traditional Japanese style, it just fits perfectly into the setting and simply completes any visit to the city with the ultimate “Japan experience”. I highly recommend staying in a classic ryokan at least once during your trip to Japan. So why not stay here? Typical of a true ryokan, the accommodation of course also offers an onsen and an excellent breakfast option.
FAQ for a trip to Takayama
One day in Takayama is quite enough to explore the most important sights in Takayama. Those who want to take a day trip to Shirakawago or go hiking in the region should plan accordingly more time.
In Japan, leaving a tip is not only unusual but even frowned upon. The same is true in Takayama. Accordingly, praise to the chef is sufficient.
The easiest way to get from Tokyo to Takayama is to take the Shinkansen Train. It runs several times a day between Tokyo and Nagoya and Nagoya and Takayama.
A day trip from Takayama to the small traditional UNESCO World Heritage village of Shirakwago is definitely worthwhile. You can find direct buses that take you from Takayama to Shirakawago and back.
The Takayama Matsuri is held twice a year, on April 14 & 15 and October 09 & 10. While the spring festival asks for a good harvest, the autumn festival thanks the gods for the harvest.
Which attraction in Takayama interests you the most? Or have you been to Takayama yourself and have a favorite thing to see in the region that absolutely has to be on this list? Then be sure to let us know in the comments below!