Takayama Historic Old Town

Takayama Historic Old Town

Hidden in the scenic mountains of Central Japan, Takayama offers a timeless journey through Japan’s past with its beautifully preserved Edo Period streets. This historic town, once a thriving hub of commerce and craftsmanship, was also under the direct control of the shogunate, making it an important center of governance. Visitors are invited to explore its charming alleys lined with traditional wooden buildings, local shops, and cultural landmarks. The old town is like a living museum, where every corner tells a story of the town’s rich heritage.

Takayama’s vibrant festivals, held in spring and autumn, transform the town into a lively celebration of tradition. These events feature elaborate floats, traditional music, and local performances, showcasing the town’s enduring cultural legacy. Visitors can enjoy the sight of beautifully crafted floats parading through the streets at night, creating an enchanting atmosphere that attracts people from all over. These festivals are a testament to the skill and artistry of Takayama’s craftsmen and are considered among the most beautiful in Japan.

A visit to Takayama is also a culinary adventure. The region is famous for its Hida beef, which is considered some of the best in Japan. Local restaurants and street vendors offer a variety of dishes featuring this prized beef, including Hida beef sushi and skewers. In addition to Hida beef, Takayama is known for its delicious ramen, traditional sweets, and locally brewed sake. The town’s many sake breweries and snack vendors ensure that visitors are well-fed and always discovering new flavors. Whether you’re wandering through the historic streets or enjoying the local cuisine, Takayama’s old town promises a memorable experience.

Explore more about Takayama through the following sections:

Exploring Takayama’s Old Town

Enjoying the Food of Takayama

The Festivals of Takayama

Tours & Charters to Takayama

From Takayama: Visit Shirakawa-go & Gokayama

From Takayama: Visit Kamikochi & Okuhida Onsen

How to Get to Takayama

With its rich history, vibrant festivals, and delectable cuisine, Takayama’s old town offers something for every traveler. Whether you are a history buff, a foodie, or simply seeking a picturesque getaway, Takayama provides a unique and unforgettable experience. Dive into the sections above to explore all that this charming town has to offer and plan your visit to this enchanting destination.


When people talk about the beauty of Takayama and encourage you to visit, they are speaking of the city’s beautiful historic center – one of Japan’s best remaining examples of an Edo Period town. Often considered a golden age of Japan, the Edo Period (1603-1868) saw the Tokugawa Shogunate come to power after centuries of upheaval during the Sengoku or ‘Warring States Period’. Under the Tokugawa shogunate, the country was controlled from the new capital of Edo (now Tokyo), and Japan entered a long period of peace.

Though located far from Edo, the small city of Takayama was renowned for the skill of its carpenters, timber craftsmanship, and other artisans. As such, the city was placed under the direct control of the shogun, under a policy known as ‘shihaisho’ or ‘tenryo’. Translating to ‘emperor’s land’, Takayama was effectively owned by the shogun, who made use of its master craftsmen in constructing temples and official buildings throughout Japan.

Today, that mastery can still be seen in the charming streetscape of Takayama’s old town. Known as Sannomachi, the historic center of the city is one of Japan’s best remaining examples of an Edo Period town. Original buildings dating back to the 18th century remain today, a testament to the quality with which they were constructed. Merchant buildings, storehouses, and historic homes operate as restaurants, cafes, museums, and craft stores, with the families that run them often living on the second floor.

Sannomachi retains a lively and authentic atmosphere as daily life continues around the many tourists that walk its streets. Increasingly popular with international visitors, the relatively small historic center becomes crowded during the day, with long queues outside the most popular eateries. Try to avoid the middle of the day and instead aim for the morning – between 9 AM and 11 AM – and afternoon – 3 PM and 5 PM – before and after the large tour buses depart and the streets empty.

These are some notable attractions in and around Takayama:

Takayama Jinya / Hours: 08:45 to 17:00 / Admission: JPY 440


As the former residence of the ‘daikan’ (district governor) who controlled Takayama on behalf of the Shogunate, the buildings of the Takayama Jinya date back to the 17th century and were in use until 1868. It is one of the best examples of an Edo Period administrative complex and residence remaining in Japan and is well worth visiting. Visitors can move through the buildings and grounds with relative freedom, including the governor’s residence, banquet hall, reception areas, kitchen, storehouses, and on-site civil and criminal courts.

Kusakabe Heritage House / Hours: 09:00 to 16:30 / Admission: JPY 500

One of Takayama’s oldest remaining merchant houses, the former residence of the Kusakabe family provides insight into the daily life during the Edo Period.

Yoshijima Heritage House / Hours: 09:00 to 17:00 / Admission: JPY 500

Constructed in 1908, the Yoshijima Heritage House is a relatively new addition to Takayama. Dating from the Meiji Period, the wooden interior of the house demonstrates the skill of local carpenters – a reputation which continues to this day.

Takayama Yatai Kaikan / Hours: 09:00 to 17:00 / Admission: JPY 1000

The museum showcases Takayama’s famous autumn ‘matsuri’ (festival), including displays of four of the festival’s eleven ornate floats. English audio guides are available.

Takayama Showa Museum / Hours: 09:00 to 18:00 / Admission: JPY 800

Dedicated to Japan’s Showa Period (1926-1989), the museum displays artefacts from daily life, including houses and restaurants, in that time. A period now popular with younger Japanese for its retro appeal, wandering through the Showa displays elicits a feeling of nostalgia for seemingly simpler times.

Hida Folk Village / Hours: 08:30 to 17:00 / Admission: JPY 700 / open-air museum

Finally, away from the old town and just outside of Takayama, the ‘Hida no Sato’ or Hida Folk Village is an open-air museum preserving more than thirty ‘gassho-style’ thatch-roofed houses. Unique to the mountain villages of Toyama and Gifu Prefectures, the distinctive construction of these buildings has been widely recognised by the UNESCO World Heritage listing of the Historic Villages of Shirakawa-go and Gokayama.

Relocated to Takayama in 1971, visitors who don’t have the time to reach Shirakawa-go can enjoy the beautiful and ingenious design of gassho-style architecture while in the city. Also home to the Hida Takayama Crafts Experience Center, which displays folk crafts and skills, the Hida Folk Village is worth exploring for a couple of hours.

Want to see the old-town of Takayama for yourself?

Based in Central Japan and operating all-year-round, we offer a two highly entertaining tours, including our popular group-tour of Takayama and Shirakawa-go and our immersive Takayama History and Culture tour. Both of these tours are sure to educate and please. All tours are led by locally-based guides and combine a visit to several places-of-interest in Takayama or with a walk around the quintessentially Japanese town of Shirakawa-go. Our tours are fun, interactive and family-friendly. For more information, or to book a tour, click on the banner or button below.

Of course, we also offer private tours and transport in and around the Takayama area, and other regional destinations. Our drivers and vehicles are fully certified, allowing us to transport you to and from your preferred destinations in combination with any activity that suits your schedule. All vehicles are well-maintained and in good condition, allowing you to relax and enjoy your ride to wherever you are going. 

We can arrange both private tours with an English-speaking guide or a private charter, including a private vehicle and driver but without a guide. We’d love to be part of your adventure in Central Japan and help you discover even more!

Got a question about visiting Takayama or Shirakawa-go? Click the ‘INQUIRY’ button below or contact us and let’s get planning together!


For many international visitors, the love of Japanese cuisine or ‘washoku’ is a primary reason to travel to Japan. The country is proud of its food culture, which is recognized by UNESCO as an intangible cultural heritage. Takayama, firmly established as a food lover’s city, offers a diverse and delicious world of culinary delights.

Hida Beef

Located near the Hida region of Gifu Prefecture, Takayama is famous for its Hida beef or ‘Hida-gyu’. This specific type of beef, produced from black-haired Japanese cattle, is known for its intense marbling and rich flavor. Considered equal to internationally acclaimed wagyu and Kobe beef, many Japanese consider Hida-gyu to be the best beef in Japan. As a result, the city’s numerous Hida-gyu restaurants are packed every night. If you have your eye set on a specific eatery, make sure to book in advance.

Hida Beef Sushi

Whether dining in a restaurant or strolling the streets of the old town, you are sure to come across Hida beef sushi. Thin cuts of raw or slightly grilled beef are placed atop a bed of vinegar sushi rice, offering a delicious and unique taste experience.

Hida Beef Skewers

While exploring the old town, you’ll also find Hida beef skewers, usually costing around JPY 500 per skewer. This is a great option for trying the region’s renowned beef while on the move without breaking your budget.

Takayama Ramen

Takayama’s ramen is a must-try for food enthusiasts. Featuring thin curly noodles and a light soy sauce-based soup, this ramen has a distinct flavor and texture. Popular ramen shops often have long queues, so be sure to get there early and be prepared to wait.

Hoba Miso


‘Miso’ (fermented soybean paste) is a staple of the Japanese diet, and Takayama produces one of the country’s most desired miso pastes – Hoba Miso. Often served with leek and mushroom with fish or beef on a magnolia leaf, this dish is a highlight of any food tour in Takayama.

Sake Breweries

Takayama’s old town is also home to several excellent sake breweries. Known as ‘nihonshu’ in Japanese, sake is the national drink, and Takayama has some of the best breweries. Look for the hanging ‘sugidama’ (cedar balls) above the entrances, inviting you in to sample and buy a bottle.

Takayama Morning Markets
/ 06:00 to 12:00 (or from 07:00 in winter)

Two morning markets (asa-ichi) are held every day of the year. The small market in front of Takayama Jinya sells local produce, while the much larger market along the Miyagawa River offers food, coffee, produce, local crafts, and more. We recommend exploring the Miyagawa River market and sampling everything you can get your hands on – a great way to start your day with a culinary tour of the city!


Unlock the secrets of Takayama’s culinary delights with the insider knowledge of our local guides on our 1-day tours. While the primary focus is on the rich history and stunning landscapes of Takayama, Shirakawa-go, and Hida-Furukawa, you’ll also have the unique advantage of local insights (see tour options below) . Our guides will share their favorite spots for street food and dining, offering you a taste of the town’s best flavors. It’s not just a sightseeing trip; it’s an opportunity to discover Takayama’s culinary scene through a local’s perspective. Book your tour now and enhance your cultural exploration with personal food recommendations!


The festivals of Takayama, known as Takayama Matsuri, are some of Japan’s most celebrated and picturesque events. These vibrant festivals, steeped in tradition, transform the historic city of Takayama into a lively and enchanting spectacle that captivates both locals and visitors alike.

Takayama Matsuri is held twice a year: the Sanno Festival in spring (April 14th and 15th) and the Hachiman Festival in autumn (October 9th and 10th). The Sanno Festival features twelve ‘yatai’ floats, while the Hachiman Festival showcases eleven floats. These twenty-three floats are masterpieces of craftsmanship adorned with intricate carvings, vibrant textiles, and detailed lacquer work. The floats are paraded through the streets, creating a mesmerizing display of color and artistry that reflects Takayama’s rich cultural heritage.

The magic of Takayama Matsuri reaches its peak at night, when the floats are illuminated by hundreds of lanterns. This night procession bathes the streets in a warm, ethereal glow, offering an unforgettable experience that transports spectators to a bygone era. The combination of historical architecture, traditional performances, and illuminated floats creates a unique and immersive atmosphere that celebrates the town’s enduring legacy.

For detailed information about the festivals, including their history, schedules, and what to expect, please visit our Takayama Festival page.

Discover the rich traditions behind Takayama’s famed festivals with our ‘1-Day Tour in Takayama: Immerse in Takayama’s Rich History and Temples.’ Even when the streets aren’t bustling with the Sanno and Hachiman Festivals, our tour provides an in-depth exploration of the city’s cultural heritage. Learn about the history and significance of these celebrated events through visits to ancient temples and historical sites. Experience the spirit of the festivals any time of the year.


Discover the best of Takayama with our year-round tours. Our knowledgeable guides provide an immersive experience, allowing you to explore Takayama’s historic streets, visit nearby attractions like Shirakawa-go, Kanazawa, Kamikochi, and more. Whether you’re interested in history, culture, or natural beauty, we have a tour for you.

Our tours offer an in-depth journey into the heart of Takayama’s culture, history, and natural wonders. Join us on our most popular tour to:


Hidden away in the middle of the mountains of Central Japan, but also an easy 2 hour trip from Kanazawa, Nagoya, Toyama and Matsumoto, Takayama is a popular destination for its traditional old town and surrounding natural beauty. The tour starts from Takayama Station and we head to the Takayama Jinya, the former headquarters of the Shogun’s government in the city. It was made from the materials of the castle that used to exist on a mountain nearby. After learning more about the history of the city and region, we will walk down the historical merchant street lined with traditional Japanese buildings. You can eat and shop here in the atmosphere of a 200 year old market district. The morning market is also nearby and there are lots of local handicrafts, fruits and other foods. Following lunch in the area, we will get on the bus and head to Shirakawa-go, the historical village with the traditional thatched-roof houses. You will be able to see stunning views of the town from above, go inside one of the homes and learn about village life and have time to enjoy the town by yourselves.

Or for more information on the tours that we have to offer, visit our Best Tours and Itineraries in Takayama & Shirakawa-go page. Here, you’ll find comprehensive information on our top tours, ensuring you make the most of your time in this enchanting region.


For a more personalized and flexible experience, our charters offer the convenience of private transportation with fully certified drivers. Perfect for combining your visit to Takayama with other regional attractions, our charters ensure comfort and flexibility. Booking a private vehicle allows you to explore Takayama along with Shirakawa-go, Kanazawa, Kamikochi, Matsumoto, Nagano, the Snow Monkey Park, or any destination of your choice. Whether you want a private tour with an English-speaking guide or just a private vehicle and driver, we tailor the experience to suit your interests and schedule.

Our charters are ideal for groups, families, or solo travelers who want to explore the region at their own pace without the hassle of public transport.

For more details on our private charters and to plan your trip, visit our Charter Services page.


Located approximately one hour from Takayama and accessible by public bus, Ogimachi is the largest of the three villages that make up the World Heritage-listed Historic Villages of Shirakawa-go and Gokayama. Afforded World Heritage status in 1995, Ogimachi is a popular destination, visited by thousands of tourists daily.

Nestled in the Shogawa River Valley in a remote area of the high mountains of Toyama and Gifu Prefectures, the villages of Shirakawa-go and Gokayama retain their historic character and traditional ways of life. This is most pronounced in the ‘gassho-zukuri’ thatched-roofed farmhouses. Taking their name from the distinctive high pitch of their roofs—reminiscent of hands held together in prayer or ‘gassho’—many of these farmhouses date back over 250 years. Built to withstand heavy snowfall each winter, the design demonstrates human ingenuity in adapting to the landscape, essential for survival during harsh winters that historically isolated these villages.

For visitors in Takayama without the time to travel to Shirakawa-go and Gokayama, the ‘Hida no Sato’ or Hida Folk Village is an open-air museum preserving more than thirty gassho-style farmhouses. Relocated to Takayama in 1971, visitors can enjoy the beautiful and ingenious design of gassho-style architecture while in the city. Home to the Hida Takayama Crafts Experience Center, displaying folk crafts and skills, the Hida Folk Village is worth exploring for a couple of hours.


From Takayama:
Embark on our ‘1-Day Tour from Takayama: Explore Scenic Old Japan in Takayama and Shirakawa-go’ and immerse yourself in the enchanting beauty of Shirakawa-go. While this tour focuses on the marvels of Shirakawa-go and Takayama’s historic charm, providing a deep dive into their rich culture and history, note that it doesn’t include Gokayama. However, you’ll still experience a tapestry of scenic views and cultural treasures. Book now to explore the heart of Japan’s scenic beauty and cultural heritage with us.

From Kanazawa:
Embark on a unique cultural journey with our ‘1 Day Tour from Kanazawa: Shirakawa-go, Gokayama, and Wood Carving Village’ — our only tour that takes you to both the serene Gokayama region and the enchanting beauty of Shirakawa-go. Explore the UNESCO-listed villages of Shirakawa-go, marvel at the traditional craftsmanship in Gokayama, and experience the local wood carving heritage. Book your tour now for an exclusive passage into the heart of Japan’s storied landscapes and hidden artisanal villages.

Private Tour:
Indulge in the exclusive charm of a private tour with our ‘Discover The Tradition & Beauty Of Shirakawa-go’ experience. Tailored for those who seek an intimate journey through Japan’s heritage, this tour celebrates the unique allure of Shirakawa-go’s thatched roofs and Takayama’s historic streets. While Gokayama isn’t part of this journey, the wonders you’ll encounter in Shirakawa-go offer a deep connection to the region’s enduring traditions and breathtaking landscapes. Book your private tour now and cherish the personalized discovery of Japan’s iconic cultural beauty.


Kamikochi, nestled high in the Hida Mountains and under an hour from Takayama, is considered the jewel of the Chubu Sangaku National Park. This alpine oasis, sitting beneath the high peaks of Mt. Yari (3180m), Mt. Hotaka (3190m), and Mt. Yakedake (2455m), follows the Azusa River and is home to a diverse range of flora and fauna.


Hiking trails span out along the valley floor and follow the river as it meanders north to south before more advanced hiking and climbing routes ascend to the mountains above. Known as one of Japan’s most spectacular natural landscapes, access to Kamikochi is controlled to preserve its pristine character and important ecosystems, including wetlands, ponds, and the sparkling Azusa River which flows down from Mt. Hotaka to feed the world below.

Japanese folklore tells that mountains are the source of human souls; born atop the mountain and flowing down rivers to bring life and prosperity to the human world below. As the domain of the gods, mountains have long been revered and also feared in Japan – places where only ascetics or the most hardened, wild people would venture. As such, Kamikochi’s spiritual importance equals its ecological significance – for Japanese, it has long been considered a domain of the gods and should not be missed when visiting Takayama.


Interested in exploring Kamikochi’s natural splendor? Elevate your journey from the charming town of Takayama to the majestic Japanese Alps with our ‘1-Day Tour from Takayama: Cultural Heritage and Kamikochi’s Alpine Beauty.’ Experience the historic allure of Hida Folk Village and the serene landscapes of Kamikochi. This tour offers a seamless blend of cultural exploration and natural beauty, perfect for those seeking to immerse themselves in the diverse wonders of Takayama and the Japanese Alps.

Also, Consider our ‘1-Day Tour from Nagano and Matsumoto: Kamikochi & Matsumoto Castle’ as a captivating option. Though not starting from Takayama, this tour offers an immersive experience in Kamikochi’s breathtaking landscapes and the historic beauty of Matsumoto Castle. It’s a perfect choice for nature enthusiasts and history buffs alike, looking to explore beyond Takayama’s borders. Embark on this journey to witness the serene beauty of the Japanese Alps and the rich heritage of Matsumoto.

When travelling to Kamikochi from Takayama, visitors will pass through Okuhida Onsen – one of the region’s best hot springs localities. Known for its pristine natural setting and many outstanding ‘ryokan’ (traditional guesthouses), most hotels have their own ‘onsen’ (natural hot springs) for the exclusive use of their guests. Okuhida is comprised of five onsen towns, with Hirayu Onsen located only a 20-minute drive from Kamikochi – a great option either side of visiting the beautiful alpine valley – and just one of Nagano’s many historic onsen towns.

Also offering traditional service including ‘kaiseki’ (traditional multi-course) dinner, going slow and staying overnight in Okuhida Onsen offers the chance to relax and breathe in the atmosphere of Japan’s mountainous heartland.

Planning to stay in the Okuhida Onsen area? Our ‘1-Day Tour from Takayama: Hida’s Hidden Gems – Caves, Bears, and the Shinhotaka Ropeway’ is the perfect addition to your itinerary. Explore the mysterious caves, encounter the majestic bears of Hida, and experience the awe-inspiring views from the Shinhotaka Ropeway. For your convenience, we offer drop-offs at accommodations in the Okuhida Onsen Area. This tour blends adventure with relaxation, making your stay in Okuhida both exciting and comfortable. Book now for an unforgettable day of exploration and natural beauty.



Reaching Takayama may take some time, but the journey is simple and rewarding thanks to Japan’s excellent public transport system. Takayama Station serves as the main entry point for visitors, with convenient connections via train and bus from cities like Tokyo, Nagoya, Kyoto, Osaka, and Nagano. Whether you’re arriving by train or bus, we’ve got you covered with detailed directions to ensure a smooth and enjoyable trip.

Takayama Station is the primary entry point for most visitors, with the Limited Express ‘Hida’ service running from Nagoya in the south and Toyama in the north. Additionally, bus services connect Takayama to Toyama, Kanazawa, Shirakawa-go, Gokayama, Kamikochi, and other destinations.

To explore comprehensive details on reaching Takayama, including step-by-step directions from various starting points, visit our detailed How to Get to Takayama page. There, you’ll find all the information you need to plan your journey efficiently, ensuring a smooth arrival in this charming historic town.


From JR Nagano Station, take the Shinonoi Line train to JR Matsumoto Station. From Matsumoto there are direct buses to Takayama. Takayama is also accessible by train via JR Toyama Station by the Takayama Line.


Other Takayama & Shirakawago Pages





From JR Nagano Station, take the Shinonoi Line train to JR Matsumoto Station. From Matsumoto there are direct buses to Takayama. Takayama is also accessible by train via JR Toyama Station by the Takayama Line.