Takayama, one of the gateway towns to Hida Mountains (part of the Japanese Alps), is a quaint alternative to the working town of Matsumoto. With an atmospheric old town lined with attractive dark wood facades and a hillside walk that connects the town’s temples and shrines, the town has a more tourist friendly vibe. Those preferring authenticity may want to base themselves in Matsumoto which boasts an impressive castle.
We toured the old town shopping streets located on the east side of the river twice, first on busy Friday afternoon. Although lively and fun with great people watching at this hour, there are too many people on the street if you want good photos of the traditional facades.
The next morning before breakfast at around 6:30, there were a few people out but not so many as to get in the way of your photography unless you are using a tripod and want empty streets.
Jinya Mae Morning Market
At 7AM the Jinya mae morning market was just getting started. A modest affair where an elderly woman gave us samples of yummy pears. Of course we had to buy a couple.
The small museum is packed with cultural memorabilia from Japan’s post WWII era. A fun place to meander. Some areas are set up as actual period rooms, such as a dentist’s office, a living room, barber shop, etc., while others are amazing collections of stuff.
Just about anything and everything you could think of – various electronics, dolls, teen idol photos, and a video game room where Nintendos play super Mario and other games of the era. The old TV’s and radios playing add to the atmosphere. In the back a small theater plays old movies.
Higashiyama Walking Course
A well-marked walking course takes you through the temples and shrines on the east side of town and then winds through Shiroyama park back to town. Most of the temples are rather run down and not that interesting.
Some are in better repair such as Soyuji, but my favorite part of the walk was the cemeteries behind the temples. The circular routes noted on the walking tour maps loop back through the cemeteries that climb the hills up into the forest. The area has a similar vibe as Koyosan, which we were to visit later on the trip. Koyasan, however, is by far the more remarkable of the two.
Shiroyama park is also forested. If you are short on time this is the most forgettable part of the walk. If you have the time it’s a pleasant way to loop back into town.
September 30, 2017
For links to all the posts in this series see the Japan page.