After satisfying our stomach, soaking our body in the onsen (hot springs), and resting in the comfortable futon in our ryokan, it’s time to embark on our second day of touring Takayama. Let’s go!
This is the second part of my 4 part series for my visit to Takayama. If you haven’t had a chance to read part 1 of my visit, please take a look. As I mentioned in my first post, Takayama is a small city and you can walk to all the major tourist spots. For the spots we are visiting today, they are all just a short stroll from each other except for the last one, Kokubun-ji.
Historical Buildings of Takayama
Takayama Jinya 高山陣屋
The first stop on our tour today is Takayama Jinya. It’s only about 1 minute walk from our ryokan (traditional Japanese inn) so we got there very quickly.
Takayama Jinya’s history goes back to 1692, when it was one of the branch office of Edo Bakufu (Shogunate) during Shogun’s rule (read more about shogun & bakufu).
During Tokugawa Shogun’s rule, there were roughly 60 of these which the Bakufu ruled directly (the rest were ruled by feudal lords), but Takayama Jinya is the only one still standing today. The purpose of the building was for officials to conduct government affairs, such as tax collections, police, and finance related matters.
After 1867 when Japan returned to emperors’ rule, the building became the prefecture government office. The office and grand hall were built in early 1800’s but the rice storehouse in the back dates back to 1600’s.
Most rooms have signs explaining the room’s name and the purpose of the room in English as you see in the picture above. You can also request a free English speaking guide at the ticket office.
Entrance hall to the administrative office.
Conference room for officials. There are 49 tatami mats flooring here.
Entrance for the workers.
The official’s kitchen.
Court & Interrogation Room. This area was used as a criminal court. Instruments of torture are exhibited.
The central garden view from the living room of the head official in the living quarters.
Map of the location for Government Offices during Edo Period.
Exterior of the living quarters.
Hoba Tree – the leaves are used to wrap miso to make Hoba Miso.
Takayama Jinya is quite large and has almost 30 large and small rooms for visitors to explore. You can easily spend 45-60 minutes there.
Takayama Jinya Asaichi 高山陣屋朝市
In the first post, we visited Miyagawa Morning Market (宮川朝市). Along with the Miyagawa market, Jinya Asaichi right outside Takayama Jinya is known as one of Japan 3 great morning markets. The morning markets in the city trace its history to 1820’s. Jinya Asaichi moved a few times in the city but has been outside the Takayama Jinya since 1922.
Compared to Miyagawa Morning Market, the Jinya Asaichi has a much longer history but it’s much smaller. There weren’t any souvenir or gift shops, instead just day booths by farmers and local food producers.
Fuki フキ (Japanese Giant Butterbur)
Japanese cherries that were in season! Delicious! One package is 780 yen ($7).
Japanese pickles. In this shop there are 19 kinds of pickles you can taste test.
Another shop that sells pickles and dried Hoba Leaves.
We got some Hoba Mochi from this store. We enjoyed it when we went back to Yokohama.
Takayama City Archives Museum 高山市政記念館
After getting some local produce at the morning market, take a short walk and head across the Nakabashi Bridge (中橋). Shortly after the bridge you’ll see the Takayama City Archives Museum. This building is the old Town Office.
The building is the pride of local carpenters’ and artisans’ work, as the it’s almost completely built with hinoki (Japanese Cypress). It’s also the first building in the area to have glass windows.
Besides the liberal use of glass windows, the curved lattice ceiling (shown below) of the meeting room on the second floor also adopted western style.
There are lots of exhibitions on upstairs of the building.
Takayama Sanmachi/Kamisannomachi 三町
The alley right across from the city archives museum is one of the best known features of the region, the old street of Sanmachi. This unique old street still has many buildings and houses from Edo period standing.
Along the street, there are shops, sake breweries, restaurants, and artisans showing local craft.
I absolutely loved the old buildings with their Japanese windows, as if we just time traveled to the past.
Hand made rice cracker shop.
Here’s one of the many sake breweries where you can taste different sake.
The award winning sake cost ¥500 to try and it was amazing!
Local artisan making colorful glass beads for necklaces and earrings.
The kids asked us to buy them a wooden sword. Look how happy they are. I remember I used to own a similar sword, play fighting with my brother when we were little.
Takayama Museum of History and Art 飛騨高山まちの博物館
After walking the old streets, head towards the hill and enjoy Takayama Museum of History and Art. This expansive Museum are made up of are 14 rooms that exhibits close to 1,000 artifacts.
The artifacts depicts different periods behind the rich history and culture of the region, including the Takayama Festival. Most of the items on display were loaned from private individuals so no photos were allowed in the viewing rooms.
The entrance fee to this museum is free and it is definitely worth a visit.
Hida Kokubun-ji Temple 飛騨国分寺
After spending time in the museum, the next stop is a bit father but still not too far (12 minute walk). Head towards the direction of train station to Hida KokuBun-ji Temple.
At Kokubun-ji Temple grounds, there’s there temple itself, a three story pagoda, a bell tower gate, and a ginkgo tree over 1,200 years old. The original temple was built in 746 but it was burnt down. The current temple is the oldest structure in Takayama and was built during the Muromachi period (1336-1573).
The original three pagoda was built in 1615 by Kanamori Arishige (金森可重), who ruled the area. The existing one was rebuilt in 1821.
The bell tower gate on the temple ground was constructed between 1573-1603.
The giant 1,200 year old ginkgo tree is absolutely gorgeous. I’d love to see this tree in fall when the leaves are golden yellow!
One of the folklores we heard is that on the day after all the gingko leaves fall down, the Hida Takayama area will get its first snow of the season.
Views of Takayama
Takayama was amazing city for us to visit. The picturesque views of its landmarks and the green mountain scenery was breathtaking. In addition, it was really interesting as we learned about its rich history and culture passed down from the Edo period.
It was one of our favorite places that we’ve visited in Japan and I highly recommend you to take a trip there. The small city feel and the natural surrounding is unlike anywhere else in Japan.
In part 3 of Takayama (飛騨高山), I share our ryokan (traditional Japanese inn) and dining experience.
If you enjoy this post, please check out my other travel blog posts! I’ve shared my travel experiences in Sapporo, Asakusa, Kyoto, Kanazawa, and other places in Japan. I hope my travel and eating guide are helpful for you when you visit Japan.