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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.

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 year round 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 14:30 - April 15: 10:00 and 14:00
October 9: 12:00 and 14:00 - 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 16:30
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.

Getting there and around

Hotels around Takayama

Top rated in Takayama
Budget:
    • Hostel Fish in a River
      Budget-friendly
      Featuring free WiFi, Hostel Fish in a River offers an accommodation set in a renovated traditional Japanese-style house. The property is situated in a quiet neighbourhood in Takayama, an 8-minute walk from JR Takayama Station. Hida Minzoku Mura Folk Village is 2 km away. All rooms have air conditioning, and some rooms feature tatami (woven-straw) flooring and Japanese futon bedding. You will find a shared kitchen with a microwave, toaster and induction cookers. There are a shared living and dining space and a small garden at the property, and shared shower rooms have shampoo, body soap and a hairdryer. Guests can enjoy complimentary coffee, black tea and green tea. Towels and laundry facilities are available at an additional charge. Private paid parking space for 1 vehicle is available on site upon prior reservation. There are a convenience store and supermarket within a 5-minute walk from the property. Yoshijima Heritage House and Fujii Folk Museum are 15 minutes on foot from Hostel Fish in a River.
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    • カミイチノマチ バックパッカーズ
      Budget-friendly
      Set within 3.2 km of Hida Minzoku Mura Folk Village and 300 metres of Fuji Folk Museum, カミイチノマチ バックパッカーズ offers rooms with air conditioning and a shared bathroom in Takayama. The property is around less than 1 km from Takayama Festival Float Exhibition Hall, a 1-minute walk from Takayama Showa-kan Museum and 300 metres from Miyagawa Morning Market. The accommodation features a shared kitchen and free WiFi throughout the property. Popular points of interest near the guest house include Yoshijima Heritage House, Lion Dance Ceremony Exhibition Hall and Sakurayama Hachiman Shrine. The nearest airport is Toyama Airport, 57 km from カミイチノマチ バックパッカーズ.
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    • Auberge Hidanomori
      Mid-range
      Renovated in 2016, Auberge Hidanomori is situated in quiet hills, a 10-minute shuttle ride from JR Takayama Station. The property offers free WiFi access in rooms and in public areas including the shared TV lounge and the terrace. Each room has air-conditioning and heating facilities at Hidanomori Auberge. Bathrooms and toilets are shared. Free toiletries are provided. Guests here can enjoy outdoor activities like hiking or walking through the on-site garden, or just simply unwind at the shared lounge with some tea. Free on-site parking is also available. Breakfast is served in the dining hall starting at 07:30 daily. Freshly baked bread, salad, yogurt, tea and coffee are served, while Italian cuisine is served for dinner. Meals require advance reservations. From Auberge Hidanomori, Hida Minzoku Mura Folk Village and Takayama Jinya are within a 10-minute drive.
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    • Hidaji (Adult Only)
      Luxury
      Nestled between untouched nature in the tranquil Northern Alps area, Hidaji offers spacious Japanese-style accommodation with traditional architecture. Guests can also request for massages and relax in the public hot-spring baths. JR Takayama Station is a 60-minute bus ride away. The air-conditioned rooms have tatami (woven-straw) floors and Japanese futon bedding. Each has a heated Kotasu table, a TV, a fridge and an electric kettle with green tea bags. All rooms come with an en suite bathroom and Yukata robes are provided for all guests. Free Wi-Fi is available in the public areas and you can look out into the traditional garden. Local gifts can be purchased at the souvenir shop. A safety deposit box and luggage storage is provided at the front desk. Traditional multi-course meals featuring Hida beef and local vegetables are served at the dining room. Fukuchi Onsen Bus Stop is a minute's walk from the property, while a free shuttle is available from Fukuchi Onsenguchi Bus Stop. Hidaji is a 25-minute drive from Shinhodaka Ropeway and a 40-minute drive from Kamikochi. Norikura is a 40-minute drive away.
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    • Sumiyoshi Ryokan
      Luxury
      Located just a 1-minute walk from popular Miyagawa Morning Market in the heart of Takayama, Sumiyoshi Ryokan offers homely Japanese-style accommodation in the historic townhouse building. Free WiFi is available at the lobby and guestrooms. This hotel was selected as one of the Top 25 B&Bs and Inns in Japan by TripAdvisor's Travelers' Choice Award 2015. The inn is a 12-minute walk from JR Takayama Station. Takayama Jinya, an old government building, is a 7-minute walk away, and the streets full of old merchants’ houses can be reached within a 10-minute walk from the property. Rooms are fitted with tatami (woven-straw) flooring and traditional futon bedding. A low table and a TV with satellite channels are provided. Guests can relax in the room with free green tea. Ryokan Sumiyoshi has a spacious public baths and a small Japanese garden. There are many antiques like pots and samurai armours displayed at the lobby. Carefully prepared Japanese multi-course dinner, including Hida Beef sukiyaki dish, can be enjoyed at the guest room. Guests can choose to have either Japanese or Western breakfast to satisfy their appetite in the morning.
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    • eph TAKAYAMA
      Luxury
      Ideally situated in the Hida Takayama Onsen district of Takayama, eph TAKAYAMA is situated 2.6 km from Hida Minzoku Mura Folk Village, 800 metres from Fuji Folk Museum and 1.1 km from Yoshijima Heritage House. With a restaurant, the 4-star hotel has air-conditioned rooms with free WiFi, each with a private bathroom. The accommodation features a 24-hour front desk, and luggage storage for guests. All rooms at the hotel are fitted with a seating area and a flat-screen TV. The units will provide guests with a fridge. Guests at eph TAKAYAMA can enjoy a buffet breakfast. Popular points of interest near the accommodation include Lion Dance Ceremony Exhibition Hall, Sakurayama Hachiman Shrine and Takayama Festival Float Exhibition Hall. The nearest airport is Toyama Airport, 57 km from eph TAKAYAMA.
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    • Iori Stay
      Luxury
      Renovated in 2015, Iori Stay is nestled in Takayama. This traditional Japanese-style townhouse was created in collaboration with local artists and boasts designs with both modern and traditional Japanese influence. Guests will have the entire property to themselves during their stay. Free pick-up from JR Takayama Station is available upon request. All units are entirely non-smoking and have a kitchen equipped with a microwave and fridge. A stove-top and kettle are also available.There is a private bathroom with slippers in every unit. Towels are provided. A traditional Japanese-style breakfast is served on site. Vegan and vegetarian meals are available upon request.
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    • Oyado Yamakyu
      Mid-range
      Yamakyu features classic Japanese-style accommodations with free Wi-Fi. Indoor and outdoor public baths are available for guests to relax in. JR Takayama Train Station is a 20-minute walk away and a free shuttle service is provided from the station. The air-conditioned rooms feature tatami (woven-straw) floors and Japanese futon bedding. A TV, yukata robes, safety box, towels and green tea bags are provided. Includes a private toilet but bathrooms are shared. Guests can enjoy the beautiful Japanese garden or request for relaxing massages. There are 1 computers at the lobby that guests can use. Complimentary coffee and a computer with free internet access are available as well. Local products can be purchased at the souvenir shop. There is a washing machine on site that guests can use for an additional fee. A traditional multi-course meal is served for dinner and a Japanese set menu is available for breakfast. All meals are served at the dining room. Yamakyu Inn is a 5-minute walk from Old Town, Takayama Jinya and the morning market. Hida No Sato Folk Village is a 20-minute bus ride away.
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    • Wanosato
      Luxury
      Awarded by TripAdvisor Travelers' Choice in 2015, Wanosato offers luxurious Japanese-style ryokan stay in a 160-year-old quaint Gassho-zukuri thatched-roof house, nestled in the tranquil woods. It features a bedrock and a cypress public hot spring bath, where guests can unwind with mountain views. The property is a 20-minute complimentary shuttle ride from JR Takayama Station. Free WiFi is available in the lobby area. Fitted with a relaxing ambience, tatami (woven-straw) flooring and futon bedding, each room comes with a flat-screen TV and a fridge. The private bathroom has a bathtub, free toiletries and a hairdryer. All rooms are smoking rooms and feature a view of the nearby river. Wanosato Ryokan offers a garden and free on-site parking. The free pick-up service from the Takayama Station requires a reservation at least 1 day in advance. A Japanese breakfast and dinner feature a variety of beautifully presented dishes, prepared from seasonal produce. Meals are served at the dining area. The ryokan is a 70-mintue drive to Shirakawago Village, while Takayama's Old Town and its morning market is a 25-minute drive away. Takayama expressway exit is a 20-minute drive from the property.
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    • Oyado Koto No Yume
      Luxury
      Just a 2-minute walk from Takayama Station, Oyado Koto No Yume offers Japanese-style rooms with a colourful touch. The hotel features hot-spring baths, a restaurant serving breakfast and free WiFi throughout the property. This ryokan is introduced in Michelin Green Guide Japan. Rooms feature tatami-mat flooring and traditional futon bedding. They are equipped with a 40-inch flat-screen TV, fridge, coffee maker and green tea set. Attached bathrooms come with a shower, bathtub and toiletries. Japanese-style hotel Koto No Yume Oyado is only a 2-minute walk from Kokubunji Temple. The Miyagawa Morning Market and the historical Old Private Houses are less than a 10-minute stroll away. Guests at Koto No Yume Hotel can soak in an indoor or outdoor hot-spring bath, or in a semi-outdoor hot tub for private use. Massages are available. In addition, staff are readily available to help guests put on Japanese yukata robes. A Western or Japanese breakfast is available at Oyado Koto No Yume. Shirakawago can be accessed within a 50-minute bus ride; the bus terminal is located a 2-minute walk from the property.
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