Hida Takayama: A Refreshing Escape from Japan’s Bustling Cities

Hida Takayama: A Refreshing Escape from Japan’s Bustling Cities

Next time you need a breath of fresh air in Japan, check out its very own set of snow-capped alps - Hida Takayama.

hida takayamaImage credit: 663highland

Hida Takayama means ‘tall mountain’ from the old Hida Province. It’s a town in the Gifu prefecture, in the middle of the Japanese alps, and experiences four distinct seasons throughout the year. In its history, the town was known for its expertise in carpentry, and it was believed that carpenters from Hida Takayama worked on many temples in the country! It’s fairly isolated from the hustle of cities in Japan, only accessible by railroad – if you are in Tokyo and desire an escape into the serene mountains, you can hop on a train to get to Hida Takayama.

Also read: 11 Scenic National Parks in Japan You Wish You Could Teleport To Right Now

hida takayamaImage credit: Eckhard Pecher

Hida Takayama is beautiful and ethereal, and if you have spent time exploring the likes of Tokyo and Kyoto, expect the complete opposite of that experience. Take time away to breathe in the crisp mountain air! The best time to visit in my opinion, is in the spring – the air still harbours some of the coldness of winter on a mountain, but not unbearably so, and the sweet blooms of cherry blossoms make everything vibrant, colourful, and more beautiful than you can ever imagine. Hida Takayama is known for its well-preserved quarter with Edo-style streets.

Image credit: Henry Burrows

If you’re into skiing, there are many ski resorts in the area that open in the winter months. Mt Norikura is popular for sightseeing and trekking.

The Sanmachi is probably the most touristed area in the town – it is where you can find sake breweries and little boutiques. It’s worth a visit, but there is much more than this to the town!

Because it’s such a small town, you can cover it on foot. Alternatively, you could also rent bicycles and ride around the town!

Image credit: 663highland

Despite it being small, it has plenty of gems to discover. For history buffs, the Kusakabe Heritage House is a restored merchant’s house from 1879, and it contains artifacts and crafts from that period.

Hida Folk Village during Winter | Image credit: Chi Tranter

The Hida Folk Village (also known as Hida no Sato) is an open-air museum made from real buildings that recreate a traditional mountain village from back in the day! You can check out crafts made by local artisans and support the local economy.

Image credit: Balou46

Hida Takayama is most well known for its Spring and Autumn festivals. In Spring, it is the festival of the Hie Shrine, also known as Sanno-sama. In Autumn, it is the festival of the Hachiman Shrine, so it is known as the Hachiman Festival. There are performances in the day during the festivals and displays of festival floats, as well as evening celebrations.

Image credit: Sjaak Kempe

As always, ramen noodles are a must. Stumble into rustic, authentic ramen bars while exploring the small town and grab a bowl. Hida Takayama isn’t a famous hot spring town like Hakone is, but you can still find some hot spring to soak in if you desired.

When I was there, I ate some really good traditional Japanese food. I stumbled upon an old school sushi bar – I literally sat on a cushion on a tatami mat across from the bar while an old but lively sushi master made my sushi in front of me!! It was all super fresh, and served right there and then. The town also has a very big old population, so the pace is mostly quite slow, other than an occasional spunky tourist.

Image credit: jam_232

A nature escapade, encapsulated in a historical journey, featuring boutique and traditional eateries… the town is a traditional Japanese experience with dash of hipster-ness. If you’re on your Japan adventure and desire a breath of fresh air (quite literally), Hida Takayama has to be on the top of your list!

Also read: 5 Island Getaways in Japan You Must Go For

About Author

Ashleigh Goh
Ashleigh Goh

Ash is a self-identified feminist hippie filmmaker and loves the mountains and trees. She has travelled extensively through the US and has spent some time working/living/studying in Montana and Austin. She is constantly on the pursuit of personal growth, and travel gives her exactly that.


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