Takayama instantly became one of the best cities to visit in Japan for me. It’s incredible mountain views, adorable streets, perfectly beautiful buildings, quaint shops, kind people, and amazing food completely won me over. Not to mention it is located in the Hida region of Japan, so if you are looking for Japan tourist spots that are home to some of the best beef in the world, look no further than Takayama!
Honestly, I like to think parts of Takayama as a Japanese version of Banff Canada, while Banff is quite a bit smaller than Takayama the appeal in most of the city is very much the same. Takayama is one of the best places to visit in Japan or hikers who want to see the natural side of the country. It is a gateway to some of the best hikes in Japan along with some very well known mountain resorts and onsens (natural hot springs)!
Takayama in recent years has been climbing to the top of the list of places to visit in Japan for visitors looking to get a more rural escape and a look into what Japan looked like at the turn of the last century. Particularly its Sanmachi Suji District, which is a collection of streets that are lined with some very traditional houses, shops, restaurants, sake breweries and cafes. The area is very well preserved and is the perfect place to spend an afternoon and was easily one of the best places to visit in Japan for everyone on my tour.
The region surrounding Takayama is also very well known for its timber sources and carpenters, so if you’re looking for a few beautiful wood pieces or a great chopstick set to take home this is the place to pick them up! My advice would be to buy two, one that is fancy and traditional and one that is more plain and usable for every day. I made the mistake of buying only one fancy chopstick set and now I don’t want to use it because it’s so amazing, so don’t make my mistake!
Don’t miss out on the morning markets along Kaji Bridge to the Miya River. Every morning locals set up their little shops and sell traditional vegetables and fruits that are native to Hida, homemade miso and pickled vegetables (specialities to the area), they’ll also sell homemade crafts and one of Takayama’s most famous souvenirs the Sarubobo.
The Sarubobo is a Japanese amulet that is traditionally red in colour and is shaped like humans but has no facial features. They were originally made by grandmothers or mothers for their grandchildren or daughters as a charm for a good marriage, good children and for protection from bad things, now they come in a variety of colours and each colour symbolizes a different wish for its owner. Takayama is one of the only places to visit in Japan that you can buy the Sarubobo, so make sure you don’t miss out!
Others things worth seeing in Takayama include; the Jinya (a government house dating back to the 1600’s), Higashiyama Walking Course (location of an old castle base), Sakurayama Hacimangu Shrine, Hida Kokubun-ji Temple, and Hida Minzoka Mura Folk Village.