Sarubobo, Sake and the Preserved Old Town of Takayama

After highlighting my side-trips adventures at Hida and Gifu prefecture, it’s about time that I shifted back the spotlight to Hida Takayama.

The pride of Takayama is the beautifully, preserved old town area, where merchant and private houses are said to be constructed dating back the Edo Period.
takayama
takayama
takayama
takayama
takayama

The famous Sannomachi Street, lined with antique homes and age-old specialty business like sake breweries, a business handed down from family generations. A distinguished feature of a Sake brewery establishment is the huge ball made of cedar branches (sugidama) place above at the main entrance door.
takayama
takayama
takayama
takayama
takayama
takayama
takayama

Several notable old-privately owned homes turned public tourist facility are the houses of Kusakube family and Yoshima family.
takayama
takayama

Another distinguishable traditional Japanese style building is the former government office, Takayama Jinya.
takayama

Everyday, two morning markets (JinyaMae and Miyakawa) are held across the old town, and along Miyagawa River. Usually starts at around 6am, I encourage you to wake up early not only to purchase souvenir stuff but take the opportunity of peace and quiet while strolling along the old town.
Trust me, it feels absolutely different when you walk along Sannomachi street minus the crowd.
takayama
takayama
takayama
takayama
takayama

Speaking of souvenirs, the red human-shaped dolls with no face called Sarubobo is the region most recommended item to take home. By tradition, these are dolls made by mothers for their daughters as a goodluck charm for marriage and children.
takayama

Another recommended diversion from the usual merchant houses is to walk uphill towards Shiroyama Park and Takayama Castle ruins.

Seeing the local residents enjoying a day in the park is the first time where I feel what the true Takayama is.  Don’t get me wrong, the preserved buildings are a great reminder of the past but often times too much commercialism has clouded what the town is all about.

It was the end of Sakura season. These pictures are taken at the portion of Higashiyama Walking Course which I did not manage to complete, not in the mood for hiking.
takayama
takayama
takayama
takayama

Takayama is famous for the annual spring and autumn festival called Takayama Matsuri, where dozen of festival floats (yatai) occupy the streets. Consider as one of Japan’s most beautiful festival, I can only imagine how amazing it must be to be surrounded by towering floats.  Across the old town are several storehouses but the best way to admire yatai, if you don’t make it to the matsuri is by visiting TakayamaYatai Kaikan (Festival museum).
takayama
takayama
takayama

Not to far from the festival museum is Hachiman Shrine, the venue of the annual autumn festival. If you want to see another temple, head to Hida Kokubunji Temple close to the train station area.
takayama
takayama
takayama

Over-all, what makes Takayama a picturesque town are the bridges, the houses along Miyagawa River.
takayama
takayama
takayama
takayama

If you are someone who deems that 6pm dinner is way too early, then you don’t have any choice but to adjust your eating habits, since most of the shops here are only open up to the said hour. The main delicacy is the tasty, almost melts in your mouth Hida beef.  If you don’t have any money to spend on expensive steak restaurants, you can still sample the delicious meat for 500 yen at small BBQ shops.

For four days, I ate at the same restaurant and ordered Hida BBQ all the time.
takayama
takayama

Apart from everything touristy that Takayama has to offer, there are three main points why you should make Takayama as a base for exploring this region- ATM, Convenient stores and Nohi Bus Terminal.
takayama
takayama
takayama
takayama

Thank you Takayama. Without any doubt, one of my most satisfying trip in Japan.

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38 thoughts on “Sarubobo, Sake and the Preserved Old Town of Takayama

  1. You should have told me! There are some good places that are open later but mostly they are a little ways out of those old streets! Center4 hamburgers have goo burgers and a big ol’ hida beef burger, and Ogiya – good food, also a lively bar/restaurant with some good yakitori and many other things! If you ever return we would be happy to be your guides! 🙂

    1. burger, so sad i missed out that one! must be really good given how tasty hida-beef is.
      i guess most of the establishments were closed during my golden-week holiday visit.

      thank you so much for you offer! how kind of you and i really appreciate it 🙂
      next time I’ll come back to the area, i will let you know 🙂

    1. i didn’t notice that red somehow is the dominant color on this post or in the town of Takayama in general, until you mentioned it 🙂
      thank you!

  2. It’s hard to capture the essence of those old streets, but I love the action that you brought into the pictures! It is full of tourists, as you mentioned, but that is part of the experience in Japan, and you can usually find a quiet street serving lovely tea just around the corner . Enjoy your endless adventure 🙂

    1. you are right!
      there are times when i enjoy the crowd particularly in Tokyo at certain places.

      thank you very much! enjoy as well 🙂

  3. Old wooden houses are so incredibly beautiful, but they’re quite gloomy inside. I always feel like knocking down (in a typical violent African fashion) (grin!) one entire wall.

    Those red thingies in the top photo, what on earth is that? I can’t read what is written on them: おん?ぼん?

    The Hachiman Shrine gets my vote for Place I’d Like To Go To First. Those trees, oh, those trees …

    1. i believe they are Sarubobo dolls (?) tied together at Kokubunji Temple.
      not sure what it really means but quite cute and strange 🙂

        1. Hi Sarah, currently i’m based in Yokohama, Japan for work. so i’m doing my best to maximize my weekends and travel around 🙂

        2. Wow! I would love to live there someday. How long have you been living in Japan? Which part of Japan? 🙂

        3. i been here for more than a year now.. i actually reside and work at Minato Mirai 21, Yokohama..
          so far, i am enjoying my stay minus those frustrating days at the office 🙂

        4. How I wish I could live there or.. maybe Korea. I’m currently looking for jobs in Korea as an English teacher. The applications forms are overwhelming! There are too many forms to fill in, I feel that my head is going to explode just by looking at all those forms.

          Thanks for dropping by my site. Have a nice week ahead of you! 🙂

  4. I am leaving too many comments but this reminded me of my trip in March. Takayama is such a gentle place (despite the touristy feel at the motomachi). What camera do you use? I really like visiting the walking trail to look at Takayama from above, too!

    1. love reading your comments and looking forward hearing your stories about Japan too and apologies for the late replies..
      i revisited this post and i feel like i need to go back to Takayama soon 🙂
      i an Olympus PEN Micro four thirds (EPL2) user..

  5. These are beautiful photos. I just did my first trip to Japan, just 2 weeks to see Nara, Kyoto, Takayama, Tokyo, and Nikko. I loved every minute, but Takayama may have been my favorite stop.

    BTW: do you know what those strings of dolls are called that you have in the photos at top? They look similar to Sarubobo, but i’m not sure they are variations on them or if they have their own name. One of my few regrets is that I would have liked to pick up one chain for a friend, but once I was in Tokyo & NRT, I could not find them anymore.

    Keep up the blogging — it’s great! 😀

    1. hi, so glad to hear that you had an amazing time in Japan.
      I so love Takayama too. Yes, the strings of red dolls is sarubobo 🙂

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