Takayama is a city located in Gifu Prefecture. Widely considered Gifu’s crown jewel, the mountain-ringed city of Takayama boast traditional architecture, colourful festivals and a range of the best mountains and onsen in Japan. To differentiate it from other places named Takayama, the city is also commonly referred to as Hida-Takayama. Takayama retains a traditional touch like few other Japanese cities, especially in its beautifully preserved old town. Takayama is a popular destination year-round but particularly in spring and autumn when crowds flock to see the Takayama Festival– one of Japan’s best festivals.
Takayama Sanmachi (Takayama Old Town)
The heart of Takayama city, the Sanmachi area has been beautifully preserved with many buildings and whole streets of houses dating from the Edo Period (1600-1868), when the city thrived as a wealthy town of merchants. You could spend a whole day wandering these old streets, buying souvenirs from the many craft shops, sampling local tea and digging into local treats like wagyu sushi. Several sake breweries are also located either in or nearby the Sanmachi district. Several homes in the old town are open for the public where they provide a glimpse of the former living quarters of the local merchants.
Activities: Photo stop, Shopping Fee: None Time required: Minimum 40 minutes
The Takayama Jinya was once the main government office in the town headed by the officials dispatched from Edo (present-day Tokyo). It includes various nicely maintained tatami mat rooms that once served as offices, conference rooms, guest rooms and residential space. There is also an interesting interrogation room. Today, Takayama Jinya is best known for the daily craft and produce market that takes place in front of the building. The other market, Miyagawa Morning Market, takes place along the banks of the Miyagawa River, a short walk away. (Image via Visit Gifu)
Activities: Jinya visit Fee: JPY 440 Time required: 40 minutes
Hida Folk Village (Hida no Sato)
Hida Folk Village is an open-air museum of close to 30 old farmhouses illustrating the traditional architectural styles of the mountainous regions of Japan. Of particular interest are the thatched and shingled roofs, such as the gasshō-zukuri-style buildings of Shirakawago. Many of the buildings were brought from their original sites to preserve them. The village is picturesque, as it is built on a hillside overlooking the Takayama Valley and surrounds a large pond. A short walk in the Hida Takayama Crafts Experience Center, where workshops on local handicrafts are given for a small fee.
Activities: Photo stop, Shopping Fee: JPY 700 Time required: Minimum 1 hour
Furukawa is located only about a 15-minute train ride north of the city of Takayama. Like Takayama, the town gained wealth and fame through the high-quality timber, nicely preserved old town and a famous festival. This city is smaller and relatively calmer than Takayama.
Gujo Hachiman is a small, riverside town known for its pristine waterways and food replicas. Most tourists visit this town to experience making a food replica of Japanese food. (Image via ANA Cool Japan)
Gero Onsen was referred to as one of Japan’s three best onsens. While the town may now be quite a bit more urbanized than back then, the waters have retained that special quality that has made them so famous.