Takayama, a city in central Gifu Prefecture, is a popular sightseeing area where the ancient townscape of old Japan is preserved. Many people visit from all around the world to see Sanmachi Street, where the oldest building dating from the Edo period stands, and the magnificent Takayama Festival that takes place every spring and autumn. Additionally, the historic village of Shirakawa-go, a registered UNESCO World Heritage Site, is about one hour by car or bus from the city.
How to get to Takayama from Osaka
- By Train: Shin-Osaka Station (Tokaido Shinkansen) → Nagoya Station (JR Limited Express Wide View Hida) → Takayama Station
If you’ll be leaving from Shin-Osaka Station to go to Takayama, you will need to make a transfer at Nagoya Station. Travel to Nagoya Station from Shin-Osaka Station by Tokaido Shinkansen, then head to Takayama on the Limited Express Hida. The travel time is a total of three hours and 30 minutes while the fare is 9,820 yen (ticket with an unreserved seat).
- Traveling by Express Bus: Osaka Higashi-Umeda (Nohi Bus, Kintetsu Bus) → Takayama Bus Center
You can travel to the Takayama Bus Center from Osaka Higashi-Umeda by either the Nohi Bus or Kintetsu Bus. The travel time will be a total of five hours and 20 minutes, costing around 5,000 yen.
We travelled to Takayama with Nohi Bus from Shirakawago. We spend half day in Takayama before boarding train to Kyoto. Our half a day exploring Takayama was filled in with strolling the many alleys of the old town and trying all the delicacies and indulge our taste buds by having Hida Beef for lunch.
Things to do in Takayama
Sanmachi Street: Walk Down Japan’s Historical Streets
Sanmachi Street is a popular sightseeing area in Hida-Takayama. As an old town, the area has houses and stores from the Edo period (1603 – 1868). The area is lined with shops carrying local specialties such as Japanese sake, senbei (rice crackers), barbecue yakiniku Hida beef, and croquettes. The area has a lively atmosphere with people shopping and eating. It is only a five-minute walk from JR Takayama Station.
Hida Folk Village: See A View Similar to Shirakawa-go
Hida Folk Village, situated about ten minutes by Sarubobo Bus or a 20 minute walk from JR Takayama Station. If you cannot fit a visit to Shirakawago, Hida Folk Village can be a closer alternative. The village recreates the landscape of an old Japanese agricultural village with the relocation and reconstruction of thatch-roofed homes, similar to Shirakawa-go.
Takayama Jinya: Delve into the Edo Period
Many old buildings still remain in Takayama, and Takayama Jinya is one of them. A government office was once called jinya during the Edo period. There were 60 jinya at the end of the Edo period. This is the only building of its kind remaining in Japan. When you’re inside, you’ll see buildings and gardens that contain much of the same atmosphere as seen in Edo period-based films.
You can also visit the morning market held daily here, which sells fruits and vegetables in front of Takayama Jinya. It is open from 6:00 to around 12:00. Takayama Jinya is five minutes by Machinami Bus (counterclockwise) or an eight-minute walk from JR Takayama Station.
Hida Kokubunji Temple: Head to a Famous Takayama Temple
About a five-minute walk from JR Takayama Station, is a well-known Buddhist temple in Takayama. Its iconic three-storied pagoda was constructed in 1820. A Buddhist statue thought to have been made in the Heian period is enshrined in the main building. Be sure to take notice of the huge gingko tree on the grounds. It is over 1,260 years of age.
See Sakurayama Hachimangu Shrine and Yatai Kaikan
Sakurayama Hachimangu Shrine in Takayama is the venue for the Takayama Festival in the autumn. Next to the shrine is the Takayama Festival Floats Exhibition Hall, or Yatai Kaikan, where four of the actual floats used in the festival are on display. The shrine is 15 minutes by Machinami Bus (clockwise) or a 20 minute walk from JR Takayama Station.
Enjoy Exquisite Hida Beef
The livestock industry has flourished since long ago in nature-rich Gifu Prefecture. Restaurants serving dishes made with Hida beef, a local Gifu delicacy, line the front of Takayama Station and Sanmachi Street.
Kobe beef may be famous worldwide, but Hida beef has a delicious taste as well. Take this opportunity to try all kinds of Hida beef dishes, including steak, sukiyaki (a hotpot dish cooked in a shallow pan), and nigirizushi topped with rare meat, in the city its produced in.
Get a Sarubobo as a Souvenir
The word “sarubobo” means “baby monkey” in the regional Takayama dialect. They have been produced historically as good luck dolls in the region. It used to be common for the amulets to be red, as the color was considered to drive away infectious diseases. However, nowadays there are also sarubobo amulets in blue, yellow, and pink. Prices vary depending on size, but a small strap sells for around 500 yen each.