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Why is Takayama so popular? 2024/3/22 20:18
Reading now a post from @JCT who will go several times to Takayama in the next months and in general seeing a lot of routes here that include Takayama even when it is far away from everything else, I wonder why is Takayama so popular?

I have been (in 2017) and thought it was overrun by foreign tourists and not really that interesting. The only good / interesting place I saw in Takayama was the Jinya. Everything else seemed pretty normal with one preserved street that was however totally dedicated to tourism. (Similar to Kawagoe). But while Kawagoe is an easy daytrip from Tokyo , Takayama requires gworkh to even get there. Ifd understand it if you then also spend some time in Kamikochi, Hirayu onsen, other parts of the Alps Ms to have a day in Takayama. But going out of your way for a day in Takayama seems so bad time investment.

So just wondering. Are people simply seeing it in a list of gmust goh places and pop it into their itineraries? What are people after that visit Takayama that couldnft be experienced somewhere much closer to Tokyo / Kyoto?

Am I alone on disliking Takayama? what do other people who went think about it?
by LikeBike  

Re: Why is Takayama so popular? 2024/3/23 07:03
I was also there in 2017, only spent 2 nights at the end of October.
I enjoyed it, we did a day trip to Kamikochi which was stunning and pottered round the town another day, had some good food in a little yokocho, however the main "pretty streets" were busy with tourists, I can imagine it's much worse now.
it is a good base for day trips and it's nice but I think it's just (like Hakone) been added to the standard "first time in Japan route " for those who want something apart from Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, Hiroshima and Hakone.
by Denis C rate this post as useful

Re: Why is Takayama so popular? 2024/3/23 07:14
Its subjective. Tourism is about making money. More visitors equals more money. So many locations will be or are hyped up.

But it also depends on what people's interests and wants are. I'm planning trip number 3 to Japan for September. Never been to Takayama or got close. While I wanna visit someday, I just have other priorities beforehand.

However I agree with you on the issue of it being out of the way. I see this on many occassions on this forum. People aiming for out of the way locations. Not realizing the reward vs effort in't in their favour. But they cannot be told.

I'd be curious to know how the visitor numbers at Takayama have changed since the 1st of OCtober and the JR pass price increases. I'd been hearing a lot of musings from rural locations complaining their international visitors have declined recently. A lot of travelers are still paying for rides between Tokyo and Hiroshima etc. But now that small trips aren't free, they are ignoring lines away from main shinkansen routes. Still only early days yet, so it may just have been winter season honestly.
by H (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Why is Takayama so popular? 2024/3/23 08:10
I have been to Takayama a couple of times and donft exactly dislike it but really donft see any need to go back. I found some enjoyable things to do there, but the number of tourists is a real turn-off for me, and it has definitely gotten worse since I last went there. I am in agreement that it arguably isnft worth the trouble of getting there, especially if you donft particularly like train riding. (I really liked the scenery between Toyama and Takayama, and generally liked the scenery between Takayama and Nagoya except for the last 30 minutes or so.)

I donft know how these places get popular. I find it interesting that Kamikochi has recently become a very popular destination for foreigners, and have been wondering how that got started. Certainly itfs a pretty place, but it was off the tourism radar map for years and years. On the other hand, the wild monkey park (gsnow monkeysh) in Nagano prefecture was a huge tourist magnet for many years, but it seems to be waning in popularity. I think in some cases it is photographs that make places look irresistable (Takachiho is a good example).

I expect that with the price increase in the JR pass, some of the destinations that were popular in the past will become less popular, while Kyoto will get even more tourists. (Fortunately they will nearly all go to a small number of gmust-seeh sites.)

I guess that for people who havenft been to Japan, or who have only been once or twice, the bare essentials of planning a trip are burdensome enough that they basically donft have the time or energy to dig below the surface and learn about some of the countless sites that are as good as the top-ten sites but a lot less crowded. (I can kind of understand that, as I comtemplate where to go on my first trip to Italy.) And then of course there is the fear-of-missing-out syndrome. Once a place gets onto a top-ten list, it tends to stay on it, triggering FOMO and making the place even more popular.

By the way, LikeBike, if you happen to be reading this post, I seem to recall you recently mentioning some site in Nara Prefecture that you really liked a lot, but I canft put my finger on the post and canft remember what the site is. I somehow think it was in the Asuka or Sakurai area. I plan to go to the Sakurai area (in particular Hasedera) later this year. Can you remember which place it was that you mentioned (or make other personal recomendations for that area)? I think Nara is another example of a place that people really want to go to, but it seems that many of them go mainly to see the deer and donft even realize there are other things to see there. (So they ask if itfs worth going to Nara if they will already have seen the deer on Miyajima!)
by Kim (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Why is Takayama so popular? 2024/3/23 08:22
@Likebike - there is a lot more than just "one preserved street". Did you know there are two preserved districts, the Hida no Sato and if you get out of the tourist area there is a lot more to see and discover (simply most people don't get to find those things). Plus, it is not all about the destination, it is also the trip there and away again, and also the food. It happens to fit nicely into a route that we have crafted over many years, avoids going via Nagoya and has a number of other intangible benefits that tend to pack a lot into our journey through the alps. Plus, I do spend a lot of time explaining the history of the area and while typically I don't get people doing much shopping, there are some specific stores I do go to for handcrafts that my clients like. When in Takayama I have something like 30 different locations that we include and the two night stays tend to be rather full - 30, not one or two like the morning market and a sake tasting. And, the Hachiman-jingu I don't particularly rate, but it has a couple of interesting points.
I know a lot of people visit for just the float museum (or festival) and the old area for shopping and stay a night. And, yes, I'll be back there again soon (didn't visit this month as I was fitting Kyushu (Sasebo) into a trip.. For a counter point, I know a lot of the TA forum guys like Kanazawa more, but for me Kanazawa has less on offer. Just a different approach.
by JapanCustomTours rate this post as useful

Re: Why is Takayama so popular? 2024/3/23 10:04
I've lucky to have gone to Japan over 15 years, at least once each year. I've only purchased "area" rail passes, so we are slow travelers. I agree, Takayama is nothing special. I've gone twice, first in conjunction with Kanazawa, Shirakawa-go, Kamikochi, via train. Second visit was 5 years ago, via rental car. Only stopped in Takayama because of convenience. I just returned from a first time visit to Fukuoka. Rented a car and visited Yufuin, Kurokawa Onsen and Mt. Aso. Again, yes, I didn't find Yufuin special. But, if you got away from the center of town, it was very pleasant. My main enjoyment came from driving the back roads between the areas. But, I understand the Japan visitor who does not have the luxury of repeat visits and want to see it all. I didn't think I would like the Magome-Tsumago trail, but it was along our route. We did 2/3 and it was great! We did it in the opposite direction of most hikers, started about 8AM and encountered very few hikers 5 years ago.

Side note, I too am going to Nara next month. Many visitors do a day trip. I'm looking forward to my 6 day visit, it looks wonderful.

by papayahead rate this post as useful

Re: Why is Takayama so popular? 2024/3/23 11:13
Thank you all for your views on Takayama.

Yes, I am totally in love with Nara prefecture. And a few spots in Nara (Nigatsudo). Just came through Nara yesterday afternoon and itfs crazy. Around the Todaiji you could hardly walk for the number of tourists. Even the deer were so fed up that they ignored the crackers.
But be 2 walking minutes away and it is quiet.

Anyway, places I love in Nara prefecture are:
-Asuka area ( maybe not overly good for staying there unless you have a car/private transport). I think it is somewhat visitable by public transport but a car or a bicycle (e bike might be a good idea) is a great way to get around and see some more special temples and ancient burial grounds)
- Imaicho in Yamatoyagi (which is a place that makes for a good hub with direct trains to Osaka and Kyoto and many other locations.)
- Dorogawa onsen in the mountains (great for a ryokan stay and some mountain activities. I remember the indeed thrilling ride in a minuscule monorail to a cave. I donft remember the cave itself but that monorail was something else
- Last weekend I went to Muro and Akame waterfalls which also makes for a nice trip. Muro would also make for a good place for a ryokan stay (if you have a car, although there are busses, but private transport would be convenient) while Akame was a very ugly small ryokan village.
- Tanzan jinja is nice but I think best combined with some hiking (or cycling). Itfs nice enough. But also not that outstanding to go out of your way for it. So if you can make the way part of the plan, itfs nice. Or if you have a car and are in Asuka area anyway. (There are busses from Sakurai though)
- Hibara shrine (and a small food stall right outside of it, if it still exists)
- Hasedera is also nice and already on your list
- Horyuji area is also nice.
- Chogosonshi ji is still on my gto do listh but looks like fun.
- Tenri is a strange place. Dominated by a HUGE temple complex and even bigger temple lodgings. I donft really know whatfs going on there. But it kind of seems the central of some strange sect with a lot of young followers. Curious.

In this trip I stayed in Sakurai, but used it mainly as a convenient hub. It was convenient for me but I think Yagi would be more convenient for the majority of tourists due to the better train connections.
by LikeBike rate this post as useful

Re: Why is Takayama so popular? 2024/3/23 12:10
LikeBike, thanks for all the information on places in Nara Prefecture! And great blog entries. They will be useful as I plan my trip. I have also found a nice travel report posted by mfedley in 2017 that is likewise informative and inspiring.
by Kim (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Why is Takayama so popular? 2024/3/23 14:40
I found the area quite interesting - even more so if you go see other sights in the region. But yes my main complaint if you can call it that is a flood of tourists (mostly day trippers). That's why Hida-Furukawa may be better for some people - it has a similar vibe but without the huge crowds (so far).
Usually people pair it with Shirakawago, and I loved visiting the place.
by Ken (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Why is Takayama so popular? 2024/3/23 16:20
I spent 1.5 days in Takayama in November 2016, followed by 3 nights in Kanazawa and 1 night in Hirayu onsen, and would love to visit again someday. Didn't have a JR pass, since we landed in Nagoya (unfortunately could not enjoy the train views, as we arrived at night and took a highway bus).

What are people after that visit Takayama that couldnft be experienced somewhere much closer to Tokyo / Kyoto?
Compared to Kyoto that I visited the year before (or even Kanazawa), Takayama was much more compact and relaxing.

The preserved city center was not so touristy, probably because we were past the prime time for autumn foliage. All shops were closed in the early morning and the streets were almost empty, so I did get those "postcard pictures" of Takayama. I liked being able to visit everything by foot.

Hida no sato was less enjoyable because it was so damn cold, and removing our shoes to visit the houses was pure torture (I have learned from my mistakes and use thicker socks nowadays, lol).

Retrospectively, my planning was really lacking and I skipped most of the interesting temples and museums there. I just enjoyed walking around in the city and the forest around it. That was one of my first trips outside Europe, and I was on a tight budget back then. Also, I have a very poor sense of direction and did not have a data plan for my phone or a pocket wifi at that time. We just relied on the tourist brochures or randomly picked a direction that looked interesting, and it is much easier to not get lost in Takayama when doing that, compared to Kyoto or Kanazawa.

I also think that Takayama is not worth a detour by itself, but if you have a few days to spend in the region, why not? I'd like to rent a car next time (not in winter).

I'm saving your post with the recommendations in Nara :)

Thanks for the recommendation, bookmarking Hida-Furukawa as well.
by Mellye rate this post as useful

Re: Why is Takayama so popular? 2024/4/12 17:31
Takayama's black color is unique compared to most historic districts, so it is quite attractive. If you are there in the morning or evening, you can enjoy it with very few others or even nobody else.

I think most people combine it with Shirakawa-go, so the overall sidetrip becomes a highlight of their trip. Also, people eat Hida beef in Takayama, which is definitely a scenic place to enjoy such a delicacy.

While I agree that there are better historic districts or at least equally great historic districts, I can see the appeal. Sometimes going out-of-the-way itself makes the experience feel more exciting, too.
by Tak (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Why is Takayama so popular? 2024/4/16 01:42
well this is just our first trip to Japan. we leave in about a month and will spend 2.5 weeks in japan and 10 days korea. i am excited about takayama. looking forward to our first ryokan/onsen visit. also plan to visit hida folk village and also the crafts experience center. doing a day visit/hike to kamikochi. also doing a half day ebike/market visit with the Satoyama experience. we are staying here 3 nights. also our ryokan is right near the Higashiyama Walk which sounds lovely and away from the crowds. thinking we will actually have little time in Takayama proper but its a good base. Unfortunately, it is an expensive train ticket and will take a bit of time to get here. Happy to report back.
by Plambers rate this post as useful

Re: Why is Takayama so popular? 2024/4/16 15:15
been twice, some nights included. Was nice quiet time, no festivals.
I love the old town with black houses, compactness, lazy walks around town. Lots of antique shops! Daytrip made to Furukawa, rented bikes there.

For me Kanazawa was kind of disappointment.

by girlwithpearl (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Why is Takayama so popular? 2024/4/16 18:09
As the instigator (of sorts) of this thread - watching.
My last visit was wet/rainy, but I spent half of it sleeping (was not very well). I am back again in Golden Week for another two nights.
For me, it is not simply time in the town, it is also the getting there - the routes to/from are part of the experience. Have my bus seats from Matsumoto booked (now that I can do that in advance), and the journey through to Kanazawa I still like (but I only bother one night there).
And, there is a lot more to the place than the "tourist" areas. BTW - Shirakawa-go is over-rated, ok if you are doing it as part of a trip, but I'm skipping it most trips these days.
by JapanCustomTours rate this post as useful

Re: Why is Takayama so popular? 2024/4/21 03:40
I just saw this video about a man promoting tourism to Takayama to foreigners. The video was originally aired in 2017, so I don't know if the information is still current.

The video shows him working in France and Israel, but I'm sure that he works in other countries, too.
by nonn bay (guest) rate this post as useful

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