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Home - Travel - Sightseeing Guide - Chubu - Gifu - Takayama
Takayama Festival 
# 7   of 8 most visited
sights in Takayama

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The Takayama Festival (高山祭, Takayama Matsuri) is ranked as one of Japan's three most beautiful festivals alongside Kyoto's Gion Matsuri and the Chichibu Yomatsuri. It is held twice a year in spring and autumn in the old town of Takayama and attracts large numbers of spectators.

Map of the Takayama Festival:

The Spring Festival (April 14-15) is the annual festival of the Hie Shrine in the southern half of Takayama's old town. Since the shrine is also known as Sanno-sama, the spring festival is also called Sanno Festival.

Likewise, the Autumn Festival (October 9-10) is the annual festival of the Hachiman Shrine in the northern half of the old town, and the festival is also known as Hachiman Festival.

The spring and autumn festivals have similar attractions and schedules. Each festival features its own set of about a dozen festival floats (yatai). During the year, the tall and heavily decorated floats are stored in storehouses, which are scattered across Takayama's old town (except the floats exhibited in the Yatai Kaikan). A set of replica floats are, furthermore, exhibited around the year at the Matsuri no Mori festival museum.

Main attractions of the Takayama Festival:

Display of festival floats
  April 14 and 15: 9:30 to 16:00
  October 9 and 10: 9:00 to 16:00

From morning to late afternoon of both festival days, the festival floats (yatai) are displayed in the streets of Takayama. When the weather is bad, the floats remain in their storehouses, but the doors of the storehouses are opened so that visitors can still take a look at them.

Karakuri Performance
  April 14: 11:00 and 15:00 - April 15: 10:00 and 14:00
  October 9: 12:00 and 15:00 - October 10: 11:00 and 13:00

Several of the festival floats are decorated with so called karakuri ningyo, sophisticated mechanical dolls that can move and dance. Karakuri doll performances are held on both days of the festival at dedicated times and places. During bad weather, the performances take place in the floats' storehouses.

Mikoshi Procession
  April 14: departs the shrine at 13:00 - April 15: returns at 16:00
  October 9: departs the shrine at 13:00 - October 10: returns at 16:00

A portable shrine (mikoshi) is carried around the town in a parade during the two days of the festival, starting and ending at the respective festival's shrine. The mikoshi contains the shrine's kami (Shinto deity). The festival is the only time of the year when the deity leaves the shrine to be carried around town.

Evening Festival
  April 14: from around 18:30 to around 21:00
  October 9: from around 18:00 to around 21:00

In the evening of the first day, the festival floats are pulled through the streets of Takayama's old town for about two to three hours. The evening festival (yomatsuri) is considered the festival's highlight by many visitors. In case of bad weather, the evening festival may have to be canceled.

The Takayama Festival is a very popular event, visited by several hundred thousand people from across Japan and the world. It gets especially crowded if one or both festival days fall on a weekend or national holiday.

As a result, hotels in Takayama get booked out many months in advance, and it is recommended to make hotel bookings as early as possible. Neighboring towns, such as Furukawa and Gero Onsen can also be used as a base for seeing the festival, but going further than that will make it difficult to see the evening festival.

Any Questions? Ask them in our question forum.

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Hotels and Ryokan
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Ryokan Murayama
Onsen ryokan with free Wi-Fi & pick-up shuttle. Hida beef dinner at sunken hearth is recommended. 3950Yen+ for bed-only.
Quality Hostel - K's House Takayama
3 min walk from JR Takayama Station. Beds from 2,800 yen. Free Wi-Fi, common kitchen and bicycle rental. English spoken.
Minshuku Kuwataniya
A small inn with a full of quiet atmosphere and Japanese tradition. Onsen baths available. 6 min from Takayama Station.
Recommended Hotels around takayama - with lowest rates by selected hotel reservation websites
Best Western Hotel Takayama
Conveniently located a short walk from Takayama Station.
Reserve through
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Super Hotel Hida Takayama
Inexpensive, no-frills business hotel conveniently located in central Takayama.
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Tours and Packages
Takayama and Shirakawa-go Tours
Various tours and travel packages for Takayama and surroundings.

User Ratings
Ratings for Takayama Festival:
japan-guide.com Rating:
  best of Japan  
User Rating (by 78 users):
94/100
  highly recommended

Best rated sights nationwide (out of 782):
17.  Itsukushima Shrine (Miyajima)   94/100
18.  Osorezan (Shimokita Hanto)   94/100
19.  Railway Museum (Nagoya)   94/100
20.  Jomonsugi (Yakushima)   94/100
21.  Ogimachi Village (Shirakawa-go)   94/100
22.  Takayama Festival (Takayama)   94/100
23.  Uji Tea (Uji)   94/100
24.  Cherry Blossoms (Kakunodate)   93/100
25.  Sefa Utaki (Okinawa Island)   93/100
26.  Todaiji Temple (Nara)   93/100
Most visited sights nationwide (out of 913):
395.  Detached Palace (Hakone)   143
396.  Yanaka (Tokyo)   143
397.  Myoshinji Temple (Kyoto)   143
398.  Cherry Blossoms (Yoshino)   142
399.  Jidai Matsuri (Kyoto)   142
400.  Takayama Festival (Takayama)   141
401.  Sanja Matsuri (Tokyo)   141
402.  Kanzeonji Temple (Dazaifu)   137
403.  Sagano Railway (Kyoto)   137
404.  Toyako Onsen (Lake Toya)   135

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English Links
Background of Takayama Matsuri
More details about the festival.

Japanese Links
Takayama Matsuri
Official website.

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April 17, 2013
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