Each year, Takayama plays host to two festivals each year, held in spring and autumn respectively. The Sanno Festival takes place on April 14th and 15th followed by the Hachiman Festival on October 9th and 10th. Both festivals are said to date from the 16th and 17th centuries and their tradition and beauty is typified by the ornate floats called ‘yatai’, which are paraded through Takayama. The craftsmanship and delicate beauty of the floats is famous throughout Japan, which are at their most spectacular at night when lit by many lanterns.
The festivals are spectacular displays of tradition and the Japanese aesthetic – particularly at night – as they floats are paraded through the town and lit by countless lanterns. Understandably, both crowds draw huge crowds so if you wish to attend make sure to book your accommodation well in advanced and should you have your eye on a particular restaurant, be certain to also book that!
Outside of the festival dates the floats are displayed as part of the Takayama Festival Floats Exhibition at the Sakurayama Hachimangu Shrine along with the Hida Takayama Matsuri no Mori.
Sanno Festival: every year on April 14/15. Hachiman Festival: every year on October 9/10
From 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 using the Takayama Line