One Day Itinerary For Takayama, Japan
Updated: May 16
Takayama, Japan, is a small mountain town on the main island of Honshu. It's located close to Nagano, the gateway to the Japanese Alps, and is worth visiting on any trip to Japan. It's easy to reach by train after exploring the vibrant capital of Tokyo. You can take the Tokaido Shinkensen line from Tokyo to Nagoya in approximately 1.5 hours. Then, from Nagoya it's another ~2 hours by train to reach this small town. If you only have one day to explore Takayama, here's how you can make the most of 24 hours in this magical mountain destination.
Where To Stay In Takayama, Japan
When we visited Takayama, Japan, in 2019, we fell in love with this charming town in the mountains. One of the reasons we loved our time there so much was that we chose to stay in a traditional Japanese Ryokan. We booked a room for two at the Takayama Kanko Hotel and got the experience of sleeping in a Tatami-style room on floor mats plus complimentary breakfast. For two nights we paid a total of $449 CAD, which isn't cheap, but split between two people is a fairly average cost of accommodation in Japan.
Takayama Kanko has friendly staff, a free shuttle from the train station/town center, hot spring baths (onsen), and the option to enjoy a traditional kaiseki dinner for an additional price.
When we arrived the room was set up with a small table for dining and sitting. There was a kettle for making tea included in the room as well. When we went down for dinner, we returned to find that the hotel staff had setup up our bed for us and created a cozy atmosphere that provided one of the best nights of sleep on the trip.
The Perfect Day In Takayama
To fully enjoy Takayama, you'll have to leave the comfort of your Ryokan or hotel at some point. Take advantage of a free shuttle service and arrive in the town center to begin a full day of exploring. We were dropped off in the town around 9:30 AM which gave us plenty of time to see everything we wanted before returning to our accommodation at dinner time. Here's how to spend a blissful 24 hours exploring Takayama, Japan.
Shop At The Morning Market
The Miyagawa Morning Market is a highlight of visiting Takayama. This morning market is open daily from 8 AM to 12 PM overlooking the picturesque Miyagawa River. You'll find stalls and shops selling everything from sweets, to crafts, to jams, and souvenirs. This is a fantastic opportunity to support local businesses and get some items to take home to remember the trip. I purchased some gorgeous artwork, jewelry, and of course, lots of food here.
Try Hida Products
A day exploring Takayama should revolve heavily around food. Since the town is located in Gifu Prefecture, it's well known for its Hida products which come from cattle in this region. This includes Hida Milk (and related items) and Hida Beef. We tried as much as we could and were not left disappointed. The Hida Milk Ice Cream at the market was some of the best ice creams I've ever had. We also tried Hida milk which was good but was essentially, just some yummy milk.
Hida beef is a huge deal in Takayama and they even sell it as sushi. We tried that and Hida beef buns and burgers, all of which were fantastic. Some of the restaurants here close in the afternoon between lunch and dinner so be sure to plan ahead so you can eat where you want.
Visit The Temples And Shrines
Takayama is a culturally rich Japanese destination with plenty of Shinto Shrines and Buddhist temples to visit throughout the town. Read up on their significance ahead of time or be sure to have a local SIM card so you can learn about what God each shrine is meant to honor.
Have A Kaiseki Dinner
We ended an amazing day in Takayama by taking the shuttle back to our hotel and enjoying a delicious kaiseki dinner in our robes. Kaiseki meals are a collection of small, intricate traditional Japanese dishes. This was a unique opportunity to try some new foods, and it felt like the perfect place to try kaiseki in Japan for the first time.
For more information about traveling in Japan and what to do in Takayama, check out my video about our time there.