15 Jun Two nights in Takayama
During our first trip to Japan we spent two nights in Takayama, in between Kyoto and Tokyo. It is a city in Gifu prefecture, located in Japan’s mountain region. It has a beautifully preserved old town that allows you to see how Japan once was.
Getting to and around Takayama
Although there are no direct trains to Takayama from Kyoto or Tokyo, there is from Nagoya or Toyama. There is also a highway bus from Tokyo to Takayama. For this trip we chose to rent a car in Nagoya, driving to Takayama after stopping at Inuyama Castle. The streets in Takayama can be quite narrow so after arriving we simply walked around the city.
For our time in Takayama we wanted to experience staying in a ryokan. Not wanting anywhere fancy with a toddler, we decided on Hidatakayama Futarishizuka Hakuun which proved to be a great choice. Read our ryokan review here.
Takayama Old Town
Takayama’s old town is an area that has preserved buildings dating back to the Edo period. We walked from our ryokan and wandered down the streets, browsing in the stores. Some were selling typical tourist souvenirs but most of them were lovely and unique. During our strolling we came across handmade toys, clothing, jewellery and lots of lovely laquered wares to admire. One store that we entered had the back section full of gorgeous handmade wooden furniture. We were there when it was getting close to closing time, so didn’t get long enough to browse all the wonderful shops. On our way back through we passed shop owners locking up their stores and heading home.
Day trip from Takayama
Our main reason for renting a car was so we could do a day trip from Takayama. We drove to Shirakawago, explored the village and open air museum and then drove along a scenic road before returning to Takayama. Read all about it here.
Takayama’s morning markets
On our last morning we had breakfast at the ryokan and then went strolling around to look at Takayama’s morning markets.
Miyagawa morning market
The first market we visited was along the Miyagawa river. We weren’t sure exactly where the market was located but found it by following signs. The market has a long history and the stalls along the river were selling lots of fruit, vegetables and pickles as well as cut flowers and craft items.
When walking past a stall the lady held out a plate of apple slices for us to sample. Fletch and I took a slice each and the apple was delicious! so sweet. They didn’t come cheap at 500 yen per apple, they were massive though.
We walked to the other morning market which is in front of Takayama Jinya. The market sold similar things with lots of produce but there were more crafts and nick-nacks. I purchased a little Sarubobo (monkey baby) doll, the mascot of the Hida region. A charm for good luck in marriage, fertility and childbirth, traditionally made by mothers for their daughters.
I was going to buy one of the large apples but thought we’d pass by the first market and I would get it there. We walked down a busy, modern street which was a total contrast to the ‘old town’ streets of Takayama. We had gone a different way and didn’t end up passing by the market.
Streets of Takayama
After wandering around the river and the first market, we strolled along the streets. As it was early morning, the shops were closed but the streets were still interesting with brightly painted wooden sculptures.
Was two nights in Takayama long enough?
If we had full days it might have been long enough but we felt we didn’t see as much of Takayama as we would have liked. We arrived late in the day, walked through Old Town and the next day we spent away on a day trip. We walked around a lot in the morning before leaving but could have done a lot more in the city.
Takayama to Shinjuku
After checking out of the ryokan, we returned the rental car in Nagoya and walked to the station. There is no shinkansen (bullet train) line to Shinjuku so we got in line for one to Tokyo Station. After hearing us disagreeing about which train was the best option and then confirming I was right, a very kind man ahead of us saved us the front row seats.
Arriving at Tokyo Station after just over an hour and a half on the bullet train, we then transferred to the Chuo line to Shinjuku Station. We exited the station and were completely disoriented and didn’t now which direction the hotel was. We figured out it was just across the road. Hotel Century Southern Tower was in a fantastic location, once we got our senses together!