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Takayama 高山

Takayama Jinya

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Takayama (pop. 95,000) is a well-preserved historical city in the heart of the Japanese Alps, ine one of central Japan's remotest regions. As the former castle town and largest population centre of the old Hida Province (north of the modern Gifu Prefecture), Takayama is frequently referred to as Hida Takayama (飛騨高山) to distinguish it from other Takayamas in Japan.

Takayama has earned the nickname of "Little Kyoto" thanks to its striking similarities with the former Imperial capital. Everything, from the attractions to the way the city is organised reminds of Kyoto. The old houses of Takayama's Sanmachi district east of the Miya River reflect's Kyoto's Gion district east of the Kamo River. The temples and shrines are concentrated on the Higashiyama ("Eastern Hills"), just like in Kyoto, and using the same name for the area. The Takayama Festival is considered one of the three most beautiful yatai (large festival floats) procession in Japan, along with the Gion Festival in Kyoto and the Chichibu Yomatsuri in Saitama prefecture. If the capital of Hida country lacks an Imperial Palace, its answer to is is the Jin'ya, Japan's only surviving Edo-era governor's palace.

Old houses in Sanmachi, Takayama
Old houses in Sanmachi, Takayama
Bell gate, Unryu-ji Temple, Higashiyama, Takayama
Bell gate, Unryu-ji Temple, Higashiyama, Takayama

In 2005, nine towns and villages were merged with the administrative municipality of Takayama, making it Japan's largest city in terms of land area (2,180 km2, or 840 sq mi, an area comparable to Luxembourg, or one third larger than London). The historical city, however, is just small enough to explore on foot.


Temple in Higashiyama, Takayama

East Side

Takayama Festival, Sakurayama, temples and shrines of Higashiyama.
Old merchant houses, Takayama

Historical Centre

Sanmachi and Shimoninomachi-Ojinmachi quarters, morning market, Takayama Jin'ya and Shiroyama Park.
Hida Folk Village, Takayama

Hida Folk Village

Open-air museum gathering 30 traditional farmhouses from the region.

How to get there

Takayama is located on the train line linking Nagoya to Toyama. Limited Express trains (特急) from Nagoya take 2 hours 30 minutes and costs ¥5,870. Those from Toyama take 1 hour 30 minutes (¥3,280). Just make sure not to choose a local train (普通), as this will take you almost twice longer ! Trains from Tokyo, Kyoto or Osaka require a change at Nagoya. If you are coming from Kanazawa, you will need to change at Toyama. There are no direct trains from Matsumoto either, but Alpico has four daily buses making the journey through the Japanese Alps (2 hours, ¥3,100).

Map of attractions in Takayama

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