Sanmachi Historic District

Open an atmospheric time capsule of life in Edo-period japan

Takayama was once a bustling hub drawing expert artisans, farmers, and merchants from throughout the surrounding area. Known for its rich history and preserved traditional aesthetic, Takayama offers visitors a glimpse into the Edo period, a time of great cultural significance in Japan. With its well-preserved streets and historic buildings, the district of Sanmachi and Oshinmachi provide an immersive experience unlike any other. Stepping into this district is like stepping back in time, where you can witness the closest thing to the Edo period outside of a historical drama.

Don’t Miss: Museums dedicated to Takayama’s history, the delicious food and sake, and wandering the streets to soak up the atmosphere.

Takayama is located in Gifu Prefecture, and getting there is relatively easy. It is a 15-minute walk east of JR Takayama Station. Trains from JR Nagoya leave for Takayama every hour, taking about 2 hours and 20 minutes. Takayama is also connected to Toyama and Matsumoto by trains and highway buses. From Toyama, JR Hida (limited express) trains take about 1 hour and 30 minutes to reach Takayama Station. Multiple highway buses operate between Matsumoto and Takayama each day.

Once you arrive in Takayama, you will be greeted by the scenic streetscapes of the Sanmachi, Oshinmachi, and Shimoni-no-machi districts. These areas retain the atmosphere of the Edo period and are designated as “Preservation Districts for Groups of Traditional Buildings.” During the Edo period, Takayama was a lively hub town bustling with craftsmen, merchants, and farmers from the surrounding area. Today, the old-world charm and ambiance of that time are still preserved in these three main streets.

To fully immerse yourself in the atmosphere, take the time to stroll around town and soak in the historic architecture. One notable place to visit is the Fujii Folk Craft Museum, where exhibitions range from life’s necessities to more artistic heirlooms. The Kusakabe and Yoshijima Heritage Houses in the northeast of Sanmachi also provide excellent glimpses into Takayama’s past.

While exploring the streets, don’t miss the opportunity to indulge in the local cuisine and produce. Takayama is known for its handmade soba and offers plenty of restaurants and cafes where you can savor these traditional dishes. Additionally, the area is home to seven sake breweries, some of which offer tours and tastings. Each brewery takes pride in its innovation and tradition, resulting in distinctive lines and styles of sake.

A visit to Takayama Jinya is a must for history enthusiasts. This was the main government office where an official dispatched from the capital governed Takayama. Known as the “jinya,” it was under the direct control of the shogunate. The governor of the jinya was responsible for collecting annual tributes for the shogunate and managing forest resources. Today, Takayama Jinya serves as an exhibition space with displays and information about the history of Takayama. Its construction was so remarkable that it received two stars in the prestigious Michelin Green Guide Japan in 2015. The Jinya-mae market, which takes place in front of the building, is also a popular attraction.

For a deeper understanding of Takayama’s history, visit the Hida Takayama Town Museum. Here, you can learn about the town’s founding, as well as its arts and crafts and traditional culture that developed in the castle town. The museum provides a comprehensive overview of Takayama’s past and its significance in Japanese history.

If you happen to visit during the festivals, you are in for a treat. The Takayama Autumn Festival, also known as the Hachiman Matsuri, is an important annual ritual held at the Sakurayama Hachimangu Shrine. The festival features ornate floats decorated with intricate carvings and elaborately detailed metalwork. Some of these floats are on permanent display in the nearby Yatai Kaikan. The Karakuri Museum exhibits mechanical dolls similar to the ones that perform dances on top of the floats. The spring festival, on the other hand, is a ritual of the Hie Shrine, which enshrines the guardian deity of the southern half of the town.

After a day of exploring, you can make yourself at home in and around Sanmachi. There are plenty of hotels, guesthouses, and ryokans nearby, making it an excellent base for further exploration of the wider Takayama and Hida area.

In conclusion, Takayama offers a unique opportunity to step into an atmospheric time capsule of life in Edo-period Japan. The well-preserved streets, historic buildings, and immersive experiences allow visitors to truly understand and appreciate the rich cultural heritage of this region. Whether you are interested in history, architecture, or simply soaking up the atmosphere, Takayama is a must-visit destination. Immerse yourself in the charm and beauty of this Edo-period town and create memories that will last a lifetime.

Address And Maps Location:

Kamiichino-machi, Takayama-shi, Gifu-ken

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