History of Takayama Historic District
During the Edo period (1603-1867), Takayama was a lively hub town bustling with craftsmen, merchants, and farmers from the surrounding area. Today, that legacy is preserved in the three main streets and encircling districts of Sanmachi, the heart of Takayama.
Soak up the atmosphere
The most profound experience is just to simply stroll around the town, soaking in the historic architecture—the dark wood and white-washed warehouse walls, two-story buildings that house businesses on the ground floor and residences upstairs. Many of the residences are open to the public, allowing a better insight into the daily life in pre-modern Japan.
Fujii Folk Craft Museum is a particularly good example of this. Exhibitions in these houses range from life’s necessities to more artistic heirlooms. Kusakabe and Yoshijima Heritage Houses to the northeast of Sanmachi also provide very good glimpses of Takayama’s past.
Soba so good
There are plenty of restaurants and cafes serving delicacies such as handmade soba and locally-grown tea, as well as more modern and international fare. A handful of the original sake breweries survive, some offering tours, others tastings. Takayama sake brewers pride themselves in innovation and tradition, and each has its own distinctive line and style.
Takayama Jinya was once the location of the main government office of the town. A 17th-century storehouse for rice—collected as a tax by the shogunate—still stands. But today, it is being used as an exhibition room.
Today, Takayama Jinya is best known for the daily craft and produce market that takes place in front of the building. The other market, Miyagawa Morning Market, takes place along the banks of the Miyagawa River, a short walk away.
The construction of the Takayama Jinya was rated two stars in the prestigious Micheline Guide Japan in 2015.
Tales from the past
Hida Archaeology Museum and Hirata Folk Art Museum could be found along Sanmachi Street. The two museums are housed in the former family home of an esteemed line of candle-makers. An array of regular household items, along with some interesting historical documents, could be found in the place.
The Takayama Museum of History and Art provides the story of the town, its people, and its past.
Northeast of Sanmachi is the Hachiman Shrine, the place for the famous Takayama Matsuri Autumn Festival or the Hachiman Matsuri. Floats decorated with intricate carvings of gilded wood and elaborately detailed-work take part in the festival. Some floats are put on permanent display in the Yatai Kaikan. The mechanical dolls that dance on top of the floats are also exhibited in the Karakuri Museum.
The spring festival is based around the Hie Shrine, which could be found in the south of Sanmachi.
Make yourself at home
There is enough in Sanmachi to fill an entire day, and with plenty of hotels, guesthouses and ryokan nearby, it makes an excellent base for exploring the wider Takayama and Hida area.
Shops in the area are usually open from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm.
How To Go
Sanmachi is a 10-minute walk east of JR Takayama Station. Trains from JR Nagoya leave for Takayama every hour, taking about 2 hours and 20 minutes. Takayama is connected to Toyama and Matsumoto, in Nagano, by trains and highway buses. From Toyama, JR Hida (limited express) trains take about 90 minutes to Takayama Station. There are also multiple highway buses between Matsumoto and Takayama each day.
Kamiichino-machi, Takayama-shi, Gifu-ken