One of Japan’s top three most beautiful festivals: the gorgeous Takayama Festival

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  • Reiko Furuya
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  • Takayama is home to a large festival that takes place twice a year in the spring and fall. The annual festival of the Hie Shrine held on April 14-15 is called the “Sanno Festival” in spring, and the annual festival of the Sakurayama Hachimangu Shrine held on October 9-10 is called the “Hachiman Festival” in fall. Together, these festivals are called the Takayama Festival. In 2016, the Yama, Hoko, Yatai festivals in Japan were registered as a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. The Takayama Festival, along with the Gion Festival in Kyoto and Chichibu Night Festival in Chichibu, are called the three most beautiful festivals in Japan.
  • The main attraction of the festival is the floats called “yatai”, and their gorgeous appearance has led them to be called “moving Yomeimon Gates”. Each float is a collection of master craftsmanship accumulated over the past 1300 years, including carpentry, lacquering, carving and decorations. Affluent residents who earned their wealth from the extensive forestry resources in the Hida region competed with each other to invest in and devote great passion to the floats. The 12 floats in the spring festival and 11 floats in the fall festival are each completely different, and they vibrantly color the streets of Takayama during the festivals.
  • Today, the Takayama Festival has become popular with tourists from throughout Japan and overseas, but it is still mainly an event held for local residents. They continue to preserve the traditions for the past 300 years.
  • The climax of the fall festival is the night festival.Lanterns are used to light up the yatai and make them appear to float as they are pulled around town. While listening to the traditional “takai yama” song that is sung while pulling the floats, viewers can feel the great pride of the Takayama residents who have protected this valuable festival for over 300 years.


  • The Hachiman Festival of the Sakurayama Hachimangu Shrine is called the fall Takayama Festival. It is held every year on October 9-10 during which 11 gorgeous floats built in competition by affluent residents from downtown neighborhoods are pulled around the downtown areas in the northern half of the town. During the Karakuri Marionette Performance held on both days, the “Hoteitai float”, which is the only marionette float in the fall Takayama Festival, makes its appearance. During the night festival held on October 9, the floats lit by around 100 lanterns are pulled in procession around town. In 2022, although it is planned to hold the float parade and karakuri performances for the first time in three years, the length of the night festival will be shortened.

TOKYU STAY Hida-Takayama Musubi no Yu

  • Located a 2-minute walk from the JR Takayama Station and a 10-minute walk from the historical district, the hotel is ideally located for sightseeing in Takayama. The gallery on each floor exhibits the traditional crafts of Takayama, enabling guests to experience the culture, beliefs and history of the Hida-Takayama region. The hotel also has a large open-air bath of the 2nd floor, private open-air bath on the 9th floor and footbath. Guests can spend relaxing time in these hot spring baths.

TOKYU STAY Hida-Takayama Musubi no Yu