Takayama is a small town in the Hokuriku region surrounded by scenic mountains with a river running through it. Historically it was known for its high-quality timber and highly skilled carpenters during the feudal ages.
I arrived in the early evening and went straight to Takayama Hostel Zenkoji which is a short walk from the station. The hostel is a budget-friendly alternative for backpackers, with Japanese-style rooms with futon and tatami, in an authentic Buddhist temple.
Interesting Places in Takayama
1. Jinja Asaichi (Morning Markets)
There are two morning markets in Takayama – one in front of the Takayama Jinja and the other at the Miyagawa river side. I woke up early and followed the map towards Takayama Jinja. Local folks start setting up the stalls as early as 6:00 A.M. They sell mostly fruits and vegetables, pickles, spices, as well as some Japanese sweets and crafts.
2. San Machi
The San-Machi is Takayama’s most famous spot. It is a well-preserved section of the original feudal town consisting of three streets, thus San-Machi, literally meaning Town of the Three. Walking along the streets is like walking into the Edo Period with its shops and studios on both sides.
Old buildings that had balls of cedar branches hanging under the front door roof are actually sake breweries. Containers of sake are displayed at the houses’ facades and there are free tastings offered. Some of the shops not only sell sake but also sweets and local souvenirs.
3. Takayama Jinja
This is the biggest tourist attraction after the San-Machi. This medieval castle-like building housed the local government from the 17th century until the 1960s. This is the oldest local government office built in the Edo period.
The vast complex showcases daily life during the Edo period and each room has a sign describing its purpose. If you want to take a peek into what life in Japan was during the olden times, then this place is perfect.
Attention to details is evident even in the nail concealers that are in the form of rabbits, because rabbits are believed to bring happiness.
This room is where formal tea ceremonies were held.
4. Hida-no-Sato (Hida Folk Village)