Tokyo 東京, Kyoto 京都 and Osaka 大阪 are commonly in the list for the tourists but Takayama 高山 is definitely one of the popular destination for the first time visitor or for the second trip.
Below were my personal top 5 tourist attractions when I visited Takayama and I hope you'll find it useful.
#1 - Takayama Old Town, Sanmachi Suji （三町筋 岐阜県高山市）
Address: Kamiichinomachi, Takayama, Gifu Prefecture 506-0000, Japan
Hours: Open 24 hours
Takayama is a small old town where you can find traditional Edo-period architecture from 1600 - 1868 with houses, retail shops, shrines and restaurants. I would specifically recommend to check out Sanmachi Suji where all these Edo-period architectures are located, forming a beautiful alley way in the olden days. I was lucky to have visited the place while it started snowing, making an unique experience of the edo-period atmosphere. If you are lucky, you may find some Japanese (or perhaps tourist?) dress up with the traditional attires walking around the area. I found Takayama charming, with all these traditional culture as well as the spirit to reserve and maintain the old architecture.
For the beef lovers - Don't forget to try the famous Hida Beef when you are in Takayama. Be it Syabu-syabo (hot pot) or Stone grilled with miso sauce, Hida Beef was absolutely delicious! It melted in my mouth!
Tips: If you are planning to buy souvenirs or local art crafts like me, it is a good idea to shop around as I found some souvenir's prices varied in a few shops.
#2 - Hida No Sato Folk Village（飛騨の里）
Address: Japan, 〒506-0031 Gifu Prefecture, Takayama, 上岡本町1−590
1-590 Kamiokamotomachi, 506-0055, Takayama, Gifu Prefecture
Operating hour: 8:30am - 5:00pm
This is a model of a folk village (including National Cultural Treasures) which has over 30 buildings at the sloped/thatched-roof, shingled roof houses etc. The replica is a successful remade of the Hida's historical Edo period. Although these buildings were moved from different parts of Hida region and located to this village, it can still give us an overall view of Hida Folk Village.
You may expect some walking up to the hills in the village, hence a pair of comfortable walking shoes will be useful in this tourist spot. It takes some time to finish checking out every houses and the whole village, so you may take 1 - 3 hours depends on your interest and physical condition. I didn't check out every single houses but those that I was interested, so it took around 1.5 hours for me.
I wrote an article about Hida No Sato Folk Village along with photos. Please click here for more information.
#3 - Miyagama Mornking Market (宮川朝市）
Address: Japan, 〒506-0841 Gifu Prefecture, Takayama, 下三之町
Operating hour: 6:00am till noon
There are two morning markets held in Takayama: Jinya-mae Market (in front of the Takayama Jinya) and Miyagawa Market (along the Miyagawa River).
Miyagawa market opens from 6am to noon, hence it is a good idea to wake up early to experience the local atmosphere of the morning market. Since I was rather tired after a long day trip to Shirakawago and Hida No Sato Takayama Folk Village, I woke up late and visited Miyagawa Market around 8-9am. The market was full of tourists around 8-9am but still - it was great to visit the local stalls that sold fresh vegetable, fruits, sarubobo dolls, Ichii Itto-bori wooden carvings, Takayama raw honey and some eateries.
The Miyagawa river was so clean that I could clearly see many red koi fish and ducks swimming in the river. While having such a beautiful nature, it was a warm feeling to see the local speaking Japanese buying the local produce .
Personally I took a stroll for perhaps 15-30mins since I wasn't planning to buy anything but to try some Japanese octopus balls (Takoyakiたこ焼き).
#4 - Higashiyama Walking Course （東山遊步道）
Higashiyama walking course is great for those who enjoy walking and appreciate the local shrines (Japanese temples), cemetery, scenery, monuments, Japanese gardens, residential area etc.
It was a slow but great way to appreciate the village away from the touristy sites. It involves long walk, so make sure you have a pair of comfortable shoes. We saw some local dressed with traditional Japanese attires walking around the area to a high tea cafe, an old man was sweeping leaves in a temple and some locals praying at the temples etc. To me, it was interesting to see where the local live and what they do in daily basis.
Note that it may not have the "WOW" effect compared to those amazing shrines and walking courses in Kyoto but you can expect just to see the walking course in Takayama town - simple and local Takayama style. This is not for everyone but only those who are interested to check out the local culture.
#5 - Historic Villages of Shirakawa-gō and Gokayama (白川郷, "White River Old-District") UNESCO World Heritage
Historic Villages of Shirakawa-gō and Gokayama (白川郷, "White River Old-District") UNESCO World Heritage is definitely highly recommended if you are planning to visit Takayama.
Situated at the Shogawa river valley surrounded by the rugged high-mountain cross the border of Gifu and Toyama Prefectures in Central Japan, the Shirakawa-go Villages has been known for the architectural styled houses - Gassho-zukuri (合掌造り). The large houses with the steeply pitched thatched roofs are the traditional Japanese houses that still exist till the modern day.
This beautiful village gives different views in every season, I intentionally visited during Winter and the view was just like a historical painting that absolutely stunning.
You can always visit Shirakawa-go as a day trip when you stay in Takayama, alternatively you can stay in the local houses in Shirakawago to experience the authentic local life.
Please click here for more information and photos.
Japan is easily at the top of my travel list despite I have been there multiple times. I will update some travel information and tips from time to time.