Exploring Takayama is like stepping through a time portal into a Japan of old. The star of this atmospheric town in the heart of the Japanese Alps is the impeccably preserved merchants’ quarter, laid out more than 300 years ago and barely changed since then. Wander its narrow streets and you’ll encounter a photogenic procession of exquisitely made wooden Edo-era houses-turned-fascinating-museums, as well as rustic inns and inviting shops that have been run by the same families for generations.
The town’s worth-a-detour appeal extends beyond its architecture, though. Thanks to its remoteness in the days before trains and motor vehicles, Takayama developed a unique culture that lives on in its food and festivals. Dive into the former in its early-morning markets, where you’ll find stalls piled with wild mountain vegetables and river fish, before stopping at a traditional eatery or one of several highly regarded sake breweries. As for the latter, the enchanting twice-yearly Takayama Matsuri – think opulently decorated floats, lantern-lit and featuring huge mechanical puppets – is traditional to the core.
Time your Takayama visit to perfection with advice from our destination gurus, who’ll help you experience an authentic taste of Japanese mountain life.