Festivals & Events
Begin the countdown to the end of the year with one of the Tokai region's most ornate festivals. The elegant Takayama Autumn Festival takes place over two days at the beginning of October and attracts visitors in their thousands.
The Hida Limited Express leaves from Nagoya every hour, taking about 140 minutes. Takayama is also connected to Toyama and Matsumoto by regular trains and highway buses.
The Takayama Autumn Festival takes place in and around Sakurayama Hachimangu Shrine
A total of 11 floats are paraded through the town as part of the festival
The handcrafted floats are so intricately designed that they are likened to the Yomeimon Gate at Nikko Toshogu Shrine
Every October 9 and 10, tens of thousands of people descend on Takayama’s old town for its grand autumn festival. A traditional harvest celebration, the festival is about giving thanks while also marking the beginning of preparations for winter.
The festival features colorful, ornately decorated floats called "yatai." Some of the floats are topped with marionettes, and at set times puppeteers cause them to perform traditional dances. Usually this happens mid-morning and early afternoon. Processions don't begin until dark.
For detailed information on where the floats are displayed during the day and for a schedule of the proceedings, drop by one of the local tourist information centers.
As dusk sets in, the decorative yatai are expertly hauled through the streets by dedicated teams of shrine parishioners. Smaller portable shrines known as omikoshi also make the journey through town on the shoulders of appointed teams.
The determined shouts, traditional music played on flutes and stringed instruments, and swinging lanterns make for an exhilarating spectacle.
At various locations you’ll find food stalls with Japanese festival standards like yakisoba fried noodles, takoyaki octopus dumplings, skewered steak kebabs, and copious amounts of beer.
Even if you miss the celebration, you can still see the floats at the Takayama Matsuri Yatai Kaikan—an exhibition hall displaying floats from festivals past. For a small fee, you can rent English audio guides, which go into detail about the history of the festival and the design of the floats.