Things to do in Takayama: Ultimate Guide to Activities, Accommodation and Where to Eat [with map]

For many people, the Japan of imagination is a place of high-tech gadgets, bright neon lights, and highly efficient bullet trains. All those things are true, but it’s also a country of small towns and traditions that stretch back over generations.

Outside the hustle and bustle of the Japan’s efficient cities, you’ll find quiet havens where evening music plays city-wide to welcome people home. Towns where life is lived at a slower pace, and the culture of old Japan lives on.

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Takayama, a beautiful Edo-period town in the heart of the Gifu prefecture, is the perfect introduction to Japan’s more traditional side. Here, you’ll find beautifully preserved historic buildings, sake breweries that have been operating for hundreds of years, and evidence of the samurai culture that once ruled these lands.

Whilst many people rush through this part of the country in a day, I think it’s worth taking a little more time to enjoy this different side of Japan. From historic buildings to Donkey Kong, and everything in between, here’s what you need to know to plan your own trip to Takayama, one of my favourite places in Japan.

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Things to Do

  1. Step back in time on the streets of Sanmachi Suji District

Walking through this historical district, dating back to the 1600s, makes you feel like you’re in the land that time forgot. Although there’s now a thriving souvenir trade hiding behind many of the beautiful old wooden facades, you’ll also find businesses here that have been operating for hundreds of years. 

During the day, the three streets that make up this district are closed to vehicles, making them a delight to wander, camera in hand. Duck into one of the many local businesses that line the streets, and you may be treated to a sample of something unexpected, like the local miso soup or light, fluffy cheesecake. As an added bonus, the entire area and many of the surrounds are non-smoking.

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For the photographers, this district is best explored in the early morning, when the only people on the streets are locals heading to work on foot or bicycle. The best time is around 7am, when residents have to move their cars off the street, but before all the stores open. The light is also lovely in the evening, with many more people around, offering a great opportunity for some portrait-style street photography.

How to get there: located in the heart of the city, this is an easy walk from most of the accommodation in town. Alternatively you can take the Machinami Bus https://www.hida.jp/english/travel tips/practicalguide/4000219.html , which leaves from the terminal next to the train station (¥100 per ride, roughly every 30 mins), to the Sanmachi-dori bus stop.

Cost: free

Hours: streets always open. Most businesses open from 08:00-17:00, with restaurants also open in the evening.

  1. Visit Hida Folk Village (Hida-no-Sato)

Although the nearby town of Shirakawa-go steals most of the ‘traditional village’ glory in these parts, the Hida Folk Village is a lovely little alternative to that day trip. The site contains local buildings, entirely unique to this area of Japan, which have been relocated here from areas where they would otherwise have been destroyed to make way for things like roads and dams.

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Each of the houses has signage in English, describing their original location, inhabitants and purpose, as well as detailing some of their unique features. Many of the buildings are also used as small museums with displays of rural lifestyle and farming through the years. 

TIP: There is a special winter illumination festival in Jan-Feb where you can see the village lit up at night under the snow. Bus tickets can be purchased from any of the special bus stops (Honjin Hiranora, Hida Hotel Plaza, Takayama Bus Terminal and Takayama Green Hotel) and cost ¥420 return. The bus leaves between 17:13 and 17:35 for a 17:44 arrival at the village (30 minutes later on Sat/Sun & public holidays) and an hour later for an 18:44 arrival. Village entry is an additional ¥300. Buses depart the village between 19:00 and 20:10.

Once you’ve had your fill of the area, you can go down to the Hida Takayama Crafts Experience Centre at the bottom of the hill where you can either buy local crafts or have a go at making your own.

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How to get there: 1-590 Kamiokamotomachi. Hida Folk Village is a fair distance from the city centre so I would advise you take either a taxi or the Sarubobbo bus to Hida Folk Village stop. The bus leaves from the terminal just beside Takayama station, taking a loop around some of the more far-flung attractions of the town. The folk village is the 4th stop from the terminal and a one way trip will cost ¥210. The bus leaves from the station at about 08:45 and runs hourly until 15:45

Cost: ¥700, which also gives you a discount if you wish to participate in any of the workshops at the craft centre

Hours:08:30-17:00

  1. Get a taste of Takayama at Miyagawa Market

This delightful market on the banks of the river plays host to many stalls run by friendly locals offering all sorts of delicious treats. For those who love beef, the local Hida beef is famously delicious, and many people sell either beef sushi or yakitori (grilled on skewers). I didn’t try either, but there seemed to be many satisfied customers wandering the streets.

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TIP: walking and eating in Japan is somewhat frowned upon, so get your snacks and then find a quiet bench to sit and enjoy them.

About half-way along the market on the opposite side of the street to the river you’ll find a lovely lady selling Hida beef skewers and 2 types of local beer – one lager and one dark. Buy a glass in the late morning and sit on a bench down the quiet side street beside her stall to enjoy.

You’ll find a woman selling taiyaki (little fish shaped cakes with a variety of fillings), another cooking traditional dango (rice dumplings), a croissant stall, custard puddings made from the famous local milk, a tamaten (local sweet) stall and a shop selling sesame crackers that’s been in the same family for 5 generations.

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How to get there: the market stretches between Kajibashi and Yayoibashi bridges along the eastern side of the river. Walk or take the Machinami bus to Kusakabe Folk Museum stop.

Cost: food from ¥80, come hungry and you’ll spend a lot more!

Hours: 08:00-12:00 Dec-Mar and 07:00-12:00 April-Nov

  1. Experience traditional Takayama life at Yoshijima Heritage House and Kusakabe Folk Museum

These heritage houses and the former sake factory are full of beautiful original architectural details. Spend some time exploring the house and grounds to get a taste of what Takayama city life would have been like.

Once you’ve had a look at the house, have a green tea before going though to the building at the back where you’ll find more exhibits of local life in the area through the years.

How to get there: 1 Chome-51 Oshinmachi. Walk or take the Machinami bus to Sanmachi-dori stop

Cost: ¥500

Hours: 09:00-16:00 Dec-Mar and 09:00-16:30 Apr-Nov. Closed Tuesday Dec-Feb.

  1. Sample some Takayama Sake

Takayama is famous throughout Japan for the quality of its sake, as the brewing microorganisms actually function best at the lower temperatures found here. There are 7 breweries in town, and one of the best times to visit is during the Nonbei festival https://www.hida-nonbei.jp/en in late Jan/early feb, when they all open their doors for some brewery hopping.

The participating breweries are located in the historic Sanmachi area, and are easy to locate when there’s a new sake available for tasting as they have a large ball of cedar wood (sugidama) hanging above the doorway. The rest of the time they can be identified by the sakadaru (white sake barrels) outside.

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If you’re lucky enough to be there during the Nonbei festival then you can purchase a Sake tasting kit for ¥3000 at any of the participating breweries. This gets you a sake cup, 2 tastings of high-end sake at the participating breweries, a booklet for stamps (which also has a map of the breweries) and a local gift (this year, locally made pickles) if you collect all 7 stamps. 

Once you have your kit, just present your booklet and cup at the counter of the brewery and they’ll give you your samples. You may need to stamp your booklet yourself (you’ll see the Nonbei signage on a table near the entrance), or the staff may stamp the booklet for you. They’ll also stamp your booklet for each of the 2 sake samples you have so they can keep track.

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Participating breweries:

Hirata: 43 Kamininomachi, open 08:00-17:00 

Niki: 40 Kamininomachi, open 08:00-17:00

Kawashiri: 68 Kamininomachi, open 08:00-17:00

Hirase: 82 Kamiichinomachi, open 08:15-17:00

For some reason, this is also known as Kusudama brewery and they also offer 30ml tastings for ¥100-200 each. The tastings are cash only, but you can purchase bottles using your credit card. Outside of the festival you can also arrange a brewery tour here via www.happy-plus.co.jp which is a 30 minute tour of the facilities plus a tasting with a guide for ¥4000pp.

Funaska: 105 Kamisannomachi, open 08:30-18:00

This was the brewery with the sake I enjoyed most. They also do tastings outside the festival, and when I visited this was your choice of 2 sakes for free, with only their top-end sake excluded. You could also pay by the cup for tastings, with a large cup costing from ¥350-900 and small cups of the top-end sake costing ¥600. They also have an extensive selection of local crafts and gifts for sale.

Harada: 10 Kamisannomachi, open 09:00-17:00

Here they also offer tastings outside the festival. For ¥350 you receive a cup and can then help yourself to between 12 and 14 sakes. They ask that you only sample each sake once. You can also find delicious local cider for sale here, along with cheesecakes and other goodies, many of which have free tastings. They have a lovely iron hearth seating area where you can enjoy your sake.

Oita: 67 Kamisannomachi, open 09:00-17:00

TIP: Most of the breweries close for lunch from 12:00-13:00 so plan accordingly.

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How to get there: Various locations, most of which are on the streets of Sanmachi Suji. Walk or take the Machinami bus to Sanmachi-dori stop.

Cost: dependent on how much sake you sample!

Hours: from 08:00 to 18:00, varies by brewery

  1. Re-live the 80s at Takayama Shōwa-kan Museum

Honestly, I think this may be my favourite museum of all time. The Shōwa era dates from 1926-1989, and this family-owned and run museum is dedicated to the best of those decades.

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On the ground floor you’ll find reproductions of streets and shops of the era, along with an entire room dedicated to the playing of Pachinko. Venture upstairs and you’ll find a room of game consoles (where I lost an hour reliving my childhood playing Donkey Kong – still awesome) and a living room straight out of the 1970s.

The museum accepts donations of memorabilia from all over the country, and their collection is truly impressive. Stroll about at your leisure – photography is encouraged!

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How to get there: 6 Shimoichinomachi. Walk or take the Machinami bus to Museum 

Cost: ¥800

Hours: 09:00-18:00

  1. Learn about Takayama at the Museum of History and Art

This little museum is an absolute delight. No photography is allowed inside, but it showcases the history of Takayama and the surrounding area. You’ll find some beautifully preserved suits of samurai armour, traditional kimono and some lovely artwork. Although there is signage in English, you’ll find it helpful to have a translation app for some of the displays

How to Get There: 75 Kamiichinomachi. Walk or take the Machinami bus to Museum stop

Cost: free

Hours: museum 09:00-19:00, garden 07:00-21:00

  1. Tour Takayama Jinja

This is a historical government house dating back to the 1600s when Japan was ruled by shoguns. Although it’s a nice building to wander through, containing many old documents and maps, I would recommend that non-Japanese speakers wait for an English speaking guide to be available, as the residence has many features that you’ll miss otherwise.

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How to Get There: 1-5 Hachiken-machi. Either walk or take the Machinami bus to Takayama Historical Government House stop.

Cost: ¥430. An English tour is available with the admission price, but you may be asked to come back later if they’re already on a tour. It’s worth waiting for so that you can appreciate all that the building has to offer.

Hours: 08:45-17:00

  1. Enjoy some quiet time at Sakurayama Hachimangu Shrine

Ok, so I can’t absolutely promise that you’ll get quiet time here (particularly not if you’re one of the million visitors during festival time), but there’s always a degree of serenity at Shinto shrines that feels a million miles away from what’s going on in the towns. The shrine is at the quieter end of town, and is worth wandering around for 30 minutes or so.

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Hidden in a corner you’ll find the fudezuka shrine, a stone with beautiful kanji symbols that have been painted black through the years. Grab a brush and paint over the words to improve your writing skills. It’s a popular spot for students to come and pray during the spring exam season!

How to Get There: 178 Sakuramachi. Walk or take the Machinami bus to Sakurayama Hachimangu Shrine stop.

Cost: free

Hours: always open

  1. Get your fill of festival floats at the Festival Float Exhibition Hall

Honestly, I’m not sure that this is worth it unless you’re a festival float fanatic, especially since you can see a really cool mini float museum at the train station. However, in the interests of completeness I feel it must be mentioned.

Rotated through the year, 4 of the festival floats are always on display here at the exhibition hall. They’re hugely ornate, and a marvel of craftsmanship, but I can’t honestly say they were worth the price of admission for me.

How to Get There: 178 Sakura-Machi. Walk or take the Machinami bus to Sakurayama Hachimangu Shrine stop.

Cost: ¥900

Hours: 09:00-1700 Mar-Nov and 09:00-16:30 Dec-Feb

  1. Take in the tower at Hida Kokubunji Temple

In a country where you become a little accustomed to Shinto shrines and colourful orange towers, it’s always fun to find something a little different. This beautiful 3-story tower is entirely black and makes a striking contrast to many of the others that you’ll see on your travels.

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How to Get There: 1-Chome-83. Walk or take the Machinami bus to Kokubunji Temple stop

Cost: free

Hours: always open

  1. Consider a day trip to Shirakawa-go

A UNESCO World Heritage site, Shirakawa-go is basically an totally preserved Edo-period village. The houses have been relocated here from elsewhere in the area to allow them to be preserved, in a similar fashion to the Hida Folk Village in Takayama itself. 

You can take an organised day trip here from Takayama, or get there under your own steam on the bus. It’s also possible to stay overnight in one of the farmhouses for a true experience of life in historic Japan.

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Many of the houses are open to explore, and there is also a small museum. If you’re going to visit Shirakawa-go then you can probably skip the Hida Folk Village, as you’re likely to get your fill of Japanese farmhouses here!

How to get there: Either take a tour (get your guide and klook) or travel there independently on the Nohi bus. The Nohi bus leaves from Takayama train station and takes 50 minutes, costing ¥4600 for a round trip. You can see the timetable and tour options for Nohi Bus here https://www.nouhibus.co.jp/route_bus/takayama-shirakakawago-line-en/ 

Cost: ¥300 per house

Hours: 09:00-17:00 for the houses. The ryokan and guesthouses are obviously open at all times to guests staying there. The Gassho Zukuri Minkaen Museum, containing 26 houses, is closed every Thursday from Dec-Mar

Where to Eat

Heianraku

Run by the husband and wife team of Naoko and Hiroshi, this place is an absolute gem. Their menu is available in both Japanese and English, and although Hiroshi is a man of few words, Naoko more than makes up for it as she chats away to her diners. She has an impressive atlas that she gets everyone to sign to show where they come from, and is delighted if you add a new location to her map!

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The menu is split into vegetarian, vegan and ominvore pages, and they’re very happy to cater to any specific dietary requirements that you may have. You can either sit at the counter, or eat Japanese style at low tables on tatami mats.

The set menu here is a fantastic deal with 5 courses and a drink for ¥2500. You can also eat a la carte. The food is delicious (I recommend the gyoza and fried tofu with miso sauce), and Naoko makes some of the best plum wine I’ve tasted in Japan.

How to Get There: 6-7-2 Tenman Cho

Hours: 11:30-14:00 and 17:00-21:00. Closed on Tuesdays. Booking advised – you can either call, message on Facebook, or pop in at lunchtime to reserve a dinner spot.

Center 4 Hamburgers

Okay, listen. I love Japanese food, but sometimes the lack of an English menu or anything remotely approximating vegetarian food means that you start craving the familiar. These guys do a good veggie sandwich and a couple of decent salads. I hear from the meat eaters that their burgers are also excellent.

How to Get There: 94 Kamiichinomachi

Hours: 11:00-14:00 and 18:00-21:30. Closed Wednesday

Jackson Curry

If you’ve got a Japanese-style curry obsession then this is the place for you. This quirky, family-run spot makes some of the best curry in town. Your dining soundtrack will be eclectic, and the location near the train station makes it a convenient place to grab a bite before (or after) you travel.

How to get there: 5-5 Tenmanmachi

Hours: 11:30-14:45 & 1730-2130. Closed on Thursdays.

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Sennon no Utage

This little izakaya (Japanese bar) is one of the few places in town that’s open after 9pm, and since it’s right opposite the train station it’s great if you have a late arrival in town. There are English menus available.

How to get there: 5-20 Hanasatomachi

Hours: 17:00-03:00, except Sunday 17:00-01:00

Menya Shirakawa

An excellent ramen place which has apparently been rated as the best ramen in town for years by the local newspaper – prepare for a line at both lunch and dinner time! The owner and staff here speak excellent English if you’re struggling. They’ll even take your order whilst you’re still in line to make things more efficient once you’re seated.

How to get there: 56-2 Aioimachi

Hours: 11:00-13:30 and 21:00-01:00. Closed Tuesday

Chuka Soba Kajibashi

This place makes Takayama-style ramen, which consists of curly wheat noodles in a soy-based broth. English menus are available and there was a line outside the door every time I walked past.

How to get there: 3-Chome-62

Hours: Open every time I walked past, I have no idea if there actually are official opening hours!

Soeur Cafe

If you’re craving a coffee (which is me 99% of the time), tea or sweet treat, then this is the place for you. There’s a huge window overlooking the river, along with free wifi. If the weather turns, or you just want somewhere to rest your tired feet for a while, then this makes a great little spot to while away some time.

How to get there: 2-Chome-35

Hours: 12:00-17:00. Closed Tuesdays

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Outdoor food centre

With a huge selection of little restaurants and bars, I stumbled upon this place quite by accident. You can find almost anything you want to eat or drink here (wild boar included), but English is minimal so make sure you’ve got a translation app handy!

How to get there: 24 Asahimachi

Hours: 17:00 onwards depending on the venue

Takayama Foodie Treats

  • Hida beer – locally made, this beer benefits from the same high quality water that makes the sake here so good. Choose from light or dark brews, and it’s available from several locations in the Sanmachi Suji District.
  • Hida cider – slightly sweet and very refreshing, this makes a fun change from the usual local drinks of Japan. You can buy it at Harada Sake Brewery.
  • Hida beef – famous throughout Japan, you’ll find this everywhere in Takayama. Whilst it’s expensive in restaurants, there are a multitude of street stalls selling it in everything from sushi to steamed buns.
  • Taiyaki – these little fish-shaped cakes come with a wide variety of cream fillings. Traditionally filled with red bean paste, they also come in vanilla, chocolate, chestnut and spinach flavour. I recommend trying several!
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  • Senbei – these soy-covered rice crackers are available all over town, but my favourite spot was in the Sanmachi Suji district where they were cooked to order before being brushed in soy sauce and wrapped in a sheet of nori seaweed for ease of handling.
  • Houba-Miso buns – these small, savoury buns are made of sticky rice and stuffed with magnolia-leaf that’s flavoured with miso and leek. All of the ingredients are local and they’re absolutely delicious. Look out for then in the Sanmachi-Suji district.
  • Sake – you can’t come to Takayama and not try the sake. With so many breweries to choose from you’ll be spoiled for choice!
  • Tamaten – similar to a marshmallow in texture, this is a sweet treat made with egg, agar and sugar. Grilled to order, they’re best eaten at the room in the back of the store whilst still warm.
  • Dango – these soy-sauce flavoured rice dumplings are a bit of an acquired taste, but they’re a traditional food of the area and you should give them a try!

Takayama Gifts

  • Inden Laquerwear – Takayama is famous for its Inden, which is usually some sort of leather (often deerskin) decorated with lacquer. You can find some beautiful pieces in the shops around the old town. It’s also the method that was use to decorate samurai armour back in the day!
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  • Sarubobo dolls – these cute little red monkey babies are all over Takayama, even on the side of some of the buses. They were originally made as a form of good luck charm for children during the long winter season in this area. You’ll find them in many colours, but the widespread red is my favourite.
  • Sashiko embroidery – there are some beautiful examples of this on display in the Hida Folk Village, where you can probably get the best appreciation of the way that the indigo-dyed fabrics change colour over time. Sashiko refers to the type of stitching that’s used to create multi-coloured designs on these base materials.

Where to Stay

Mid-range

Ichinomatsu Japanese Modern Hotel

This is where I stayed and I loved it. Although it’s on the other side of the train station to the main attractions, I still found that it was a convenient location. The staff were incredibly friendly, and the included breakfast was delicious. The onsen was absolutely wonderful and available for private use throughout the evening.

From ¥17,500/night

Sumiyoshi Ryokan

Slightly further north of town than some of the accommodations, this beautiful ryokan is about 10 minutes walk from the old town. There are traditional tatami mats and futon bedding, with large public baths. A choice of Western or Japanese breakfast is included in the rate, and you can also organise a traditional Japanese dinner to be served in your room for the full experience.

From ¥15,500/night

See availability and book here.

Oyado Koto No Yume

Another lovely traditional ryokan, this place is close to the train station with great amenities. There’s an indoor and outdoor onsen, massages available, and a Western or Japanese style breakfast depending on your preference.

From ¥20,000/night

See availability and book here.

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Luxury

Ryokan Tanabe

If you’re after great value luxury in the heart of Takayama then this is the place for you. With Japanese-style rooms, massage treatments and a beautiful onsen, I doubt you’ll want to leave. There’s a multi-course dinner and set menu available for breakfast, served to your room.

From ¥24,000/night

See availability and book here

Eph Takayama

Only 200m from the station, the location of this hotel is great for all the sights in Takayama. There is a lovely buffet breakfast available, and non-guests can also use the cafe. 

From ¥21,600/night

See availability and book here.

Iori Stay

This stunning, recently renovated traditional Japanese town house is situated right next to the river. Vegetarian and vegan options are available for breakfast, and you’ll have the house to yourself. There’s also a lovely little onsen at the property. 

From ¥24,480/night

See availability and book here.

Budget

Noie Tau 

Ok, look, I am going to be super honest here and tell you that this place is top of the list of budge options because of Luke the cat. Although it’s the opposite side of the station to the old town, it’s just a 3 minute walk away, and in a quiet area. It rates highly for comfort, and there’s a common area for chatting with fellow guests and playing with Luke. What’s not to like? 

¥3,000/night

See availability and book here

Hostel Fish In A River

Only 500m from the train station and an easy walk to many of the sights in town, this modern hostel has a shared kitchen available for cooking. You can get laundry done for a small fee also. 

From ¥6,800/night

See availability and book here [BOOKING.COM]

Cup of Tea

10 minutes from the train station and just 5 minutes from the old town, this is a great location for a small hostel. There’s a public onsen right across the street if you’re looking for a real taste of Japan! 

From ¥2,250/night

See availability and book here.

Map

How to Get There

Train

The vast majority of tourists traveling in Japan are likely to arrive here by train. There are great connections to Takayama from around the country. The bullet train will get you here in four hours from Tokyo and three hours from Kyoto. All trains go via Nagoya, where you’ll need to switch from the Shinkansen to the Express Train. This is all covered by the JR Pass.

I used the JR Pass as I was travelling all the way from Sapporo in the north to Osaka in the south, so this was the most cost effective way for me to travel. If you’re only going to be staying in a single city then the rail pass isn’t worth it.

TIP: If you get a JR Pass then I recommend ordinary, rather than Green (First) Class. If you’re travelling in peak season you can reserve all your seats the day you activate your pass for all travel during your visit. Reservations are vital during busy times or if you have larger bags (see below).

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Take two or more inter-city trips over the duration of your trip, and the JR Pass usually works out as good value for money. As an example, a one-way Shinkansen Tokyo-Kyoto currently costs ¥14,170 whilst a 7 day standard rail pass is ¥29,650. If you’re making a return trip within 7 days then the pass is worth it, but otherwise you’re better off just getting the single ticket.

TIP: from May 2020 there will be luggage restrictions on Shinkansen trains along th Tokaido (Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka), Sanyo and Kyushu lines. Any bag with combined height, width and length of 160-250cm will require you to have an advance reservation. You won’t need to pay extra for the bag, but you will need a reserved seat to allow you to make a luggage reservation. The JR Pass automatically gets you the right to reserve seats without additional payment.

Bus

If you’re coming from Kanazawa then you can catch the bus to Takayama. It will take roughly the same time as the train, but you’ll also get to see Shirakawa-go along the way. If you, unlike me, are travelling light, then you can actually split your bus journey so long as you book in advance, allowing you to see Shirakawa-go without extra expense.

Check times and book trains at https://japanbusonline.com/en/CourseSearch/11900040002 

Getting around

Takayama is a very compact little town, and walking around is easy. The only location that I didn’t walk to was the Hida Folk Village, due to its location further outside the town. A return trip here on the Sarubobo bus cost me ¥420 from the town centre (2x one way tickets at ¥210).

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If you think that you’d like to explore several of the more distant sites or you’re not able to walk longer distances, then there are 2 tourist bus routes that service Takayama – the Machinami and Sarubobo routes. A single ride on the Machinami bus costs ¥100, and on the Sarubobo ¥210.

You can purchase a one day ticket that covers both routes for ¥620. If you present this ticket at 13 of the main attractions in town you will receive a discount of between ¥50-300 depending on the site https://www.hida.jp/_res/projects/hida_jp/_page_/004/000/219/unkou2.pdf .

There are also several taxi services in the town, and you can usually hail one from either the train station or your hotel.

When to Go

Takayama is host to huge and elaborate festivals twice a year, in April and October. Famous throughout the country, up to 250,000 tourists from Japan and overseas flood the tiny streets of this normally quiet town for the celebrations. Whilst these busy events have an appeal all their own, they’re not the best time to experience the quiet charms that make Takayama such a beautiful place to visit. 

TIP: If you do decide that you want to come and experience the fun of the festival then you need to get organised. Accommodation fills up months in advance, so you need to plan accordingly.

Spring (late March-May) is a beautiful time to visit, with cherry blossom lining the city streets. Compared to other parts of the country, the blossom may arrive a little later, and the festival in mid-April is timed to welcome spring to the town.

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The summer months (June-August) are host to fields of lavender, Sunday flea markets, and a host of activities like cycling and hiking in the surrounding hills. The weather can be hot and humid.

A feast of colourful foliage, blue skies and cooler temperatures are your rewards for a trip in Autumn (Sept-Nov), with the festival in early October marking the start of hibernation for the year. The koyo (autumn leaf) viewing here is almost as big of a deal as the sakura (cherry blossom) time.

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Winter (Dec-late March) is long, due to Takayama’s location in the Japanese alps, but it brings snow and blue skies, turning the town into a winter wonderland. For me, this is one of my favourite times of year to visit. Just come prepared for the cold!

Takayama is undoubtedly one of my favourite towns in Japan, and I now recommend it to everyone traveling to Japan for the first time [LINK TO EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW BEFORE GOING TO JAPAN FOR THE FIRST TIME]

Do you have any questions about traveling to Takayama? Let me know in the comments below, or find me on social media!

Japan Essentials

Currency: Yen – ¥

Credit Cards: Whilst large businesses and hotels will usually accept all major credit cards, including AMEX, Japan is still largely a cash-based economy and you will need to carry enough cash with you to cover meals and daily expenses.

Language: Japanese – download the kanji keyboard and offline Japanese dictionary for Google Translate.

Electricity: 100V, Type A plug (2 flat parallel pins, no grounding pin) LINK AMAZON

Budget: Japan isn’t as expensive as it used to be, but serious budget travel is tricky here. For budget travel expect to pay ¥3,500-8,000 per person per day. Mid range is ¥9,000-20,000 and top end from ¥20,000 up. Check the latest exchange rates here [LINK XE.COM]

When to go:  Japan has something to recommend it all year round. Sakura season at the beginning of spring around early April sees the cherry blossom arrive, and with it the crowds. Plan well in advance to secure accommodation. Koyo season, when the Autumn colour appears in mid November is also an incredibly popular time to travel. Mid January to early March is great for skiing, particularly in Hokkaido.

Getting around: Japan has an excellent and extensive public transport system throughout the country.

What to Take: Other than your adaptors for applicances, nothing special is required for Japan. For photography you can see what I take here [LINK GEAR GUIDE]

Travel Insurance: If an ice-water enema in Cairo taught me anything, it’s that you always need travel insurance. I have mine with World Nomads [LINK]

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