We had the chance to visit another part of the what is known in Japan as the Central Honshu. Described by tour books as the region that shows the contrasts of present Japan – with its densely populated coastal cities whilst in the middle the highest and wildest mountains can be found. Whilst the region is very accessible to travel it has kept its traditional rural lifestyles, architecture and festivals.
Last Sunday, the 14th of April was the first day of Takayama’s world renown Spring Festival – Sanno Matsuri. The festival is a celebration of the guardian deity of the southern half of the ‘old town’ Takayama to welcome spring as well as pray for good harvest and peace for the year. The main event of the festival is the parade of 12 yatais (festival floats.) Later in the year after the hot days of summer Takayama then celebrates the Autumn Festival where there are 11 of these yatais on show. They are believed to date back as far as the 17th century. The current Takayama spring festival in the Ishikawa Prefecture have been celebrated for the past 40 years.
Every float has its own unique design with very intricate details. They were very beautiful! Here are photos of the floats but I haven’t named them individually as I do not wish to misquote their names.
Walking through the old town we experienced the beautifully preserved Edo period merchant’s businesses and private homes. Takayama is not only known for these festivals. The city is also well-known for the numerous sake breweries and gourmet restaurants. The old town was awarded the highest 3-star Michelin travel award as a destination worth travelling.
Aside from the beautiful festival and old preserved streets, it was the spirit of the locals that I loved the most. These festival participants were very proud of their heritage. The police and volunteers were very helpful, considering there were many lost (tourists) souls with their guide books and cameras. Here is my tribute to the lovely people of Hida Takayama.
We truly enjoyed our brief day in Takayama. Our only wish was if we could have stayed to watch the night festival when the floats were lit and went around the city streets once more. But…there’s always next time. I look forward to visiting the city again to explore the many temples and I can’t wait!
When you do get the chance to visit, It is really worth it! And stay the night if you can.
Hida Takayama’s detailed website is here.