Takayama Old Town in Nagoya

Takayama Old Town or Old Quarter is located about one hour from Shirakawa-Go and about two hours from Nagoya city and this place sits in a basin surrounded by beautiful scenic mountains. Takayama is also well known for the famous Hida Beef, the Old Quarter of Takayama, the Morning Market and Takayama Jinya which is an interesting government house museum. 

While you visit here, exploring the Old Quarter of Takayama on foot is highly recommended as there are many things to see and also to sample the local Japanese snacks and food here. There are also two morning markets located here which are the Miyagawa Morning Market and the other is the Takayama Jinya Morning Market next to the Miya River. 

local japanese snacks in takayama
Japanese local snacks sold at the morning market

morning market in takayama
Morning market vendor selling local homegrown produce
The morning market is another exciting place to visit as the vendors here sell freshly picked fruit, homemade pickles, Japanese sweets and local Japanese handicraft. This place is also best visited in the spring and summer as it tends to be much more lively compared to the winter period. Among the other things found around Takayama are craft like pottery, ‘Ichii Ittobori’ wood carvings, Hida furniture and famous Japanese sake breweries.  

Sarubobo Photo
Sarubobo
Sarubobo Dolls
Satubobo dolls hanging outside a local home
One of the must-get items is the traditional good luck charm called Sarubobo which is one of the popular souvenirs in Takayama. A dialect of Hida, Sarubobo means baby monkey which is to protect one from evil and provide good luck. It is also used for good luck in matchmaking, marriage as well as safe childbirth while different colours depict the different types of luck too. These are sold in various sizes, a key chain sized one will cost about RM3 to RM5 each while a medium sized doll will cost about RM50 to RM100. They do have much larger ones which cost about RM300. 

Below are random photos taken around Takayama Old Town in Nagoya during winter 2014 which was in mid January.
Takayama Old Town
Takayama Old Town Street
Various shops along a walkway at the old quarter
Old Quarter Takayama
Souvenir shop in the old quarter of Takayama
shops in takayama japan
Another souvenir and snack shop at the old quarter
Snack shop in Takayama
Japanese Ice Cream and snack shop
Takayama shops
Shop selling local snacks
Souvenirs from Takayama
A local shop selling snacks and grilled food

Takayama Jinya in Nagoya
Takayama Jinya entrance

Takayama Jinya Museum
Address: 1-5 Hachiken-machi, Takayama city, Gifu
Walking: 10 minutes from Takayama Station
Hours: 8.45am - 5.00pm
Entrance: 420 Yen 

Takayama Jinya is a former government outpost that was established to bring the Hida Province under the direct control of the Edo Bakufu who was a Shogun. The main building was reconstructed in 1816, and remains intact today however, the building complex was in official use until 1969, and is now open to the public as a museum. Inside you will find well maintained tatami mat rooms that once served as offices, conference rooms, guest rooms, residential space and a very interesting interrogation room. Recommended for those who love history.

Museum of Takayama Jinya
Inside Takayama Jinya
Map of Takayama Jinya
Layout of Takayama Jinya

Takayama Food 

While it is a must-try for food lovers, the old quarter offers some interesting dishes to sample. When you are exploring Takayama Old Town, you should try the popular ‘Mitarashi Dango’ which is skewered rice balls painted with sweet soy sauce can be found throughout the area. There are a variety of other local snacks therefore it is best to walk around and try them.

For food lovers, the must-try dish when you are here is hands down the Hida Beef which is available in ‘Gyukushi’ - grilled skewers, ‘Gyuman’ - beef filled steamed rice buns, raw Hida beef sushi or simply best eaten in any of the restaurants or hotels around here. Hida Beef comes from black cattle raised in rich natural surroundings and the finest quality called ‘Hida-Gyu’ can only be found at restaurants and hotels in Takayama. So if you see Hida Beef being sold on the streets, these are the lower quality cuts of beef. 

Mitarashi Dango in Nagoya
Mitarashi Dango or Skewered Rice Balls
Japanese food in Takayama
Stewed beef, vegetables and raw egg
Japanese Sake from Takayama
Takayama Sake barrels
Old Quarter of Takayama
Takayama Old Quarter
Japanese Trishaws in Nagoya
Takayama Trishaws, one of the attractions here
Budget long haul airline AirAsia_X flies to Chubu Centrair Airport in Nagoya, the third destination in Japan after Tokyo and Osaka. Taking a train or bus here is possible but note that English is not widely spoken in these areas. Self driving can be done with some of the car rental companies here but if you plan to visit the village, it is recommended to use a tour company as you need a minimum of half a day to visit Takayama Old Town.

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