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Takayama Festival (2/5)
Yatai Gathering in Takayama Festival (3/5)
Food stalls in Takayama Festival (4/5)
Karakuri Performance in Takayama Festival (5/5)

IN A FEW WORDS

One of Japan's best known festivals

DESCRIPTION

Takayama Festival is one of Japan's oldest, largest and most famous festivals. It's celebrated twice a year, in spring and autumn, and attracts countless of visitors from all around the country. The festival's exact origins are unknown, but it is said to have been held since the 16th or 17th century.

The spring festival is celebrated on the 14th and 15th of April and is centered around the Hie Shrine, which is commonly named Sanno Shrine and, thus, the spring festival is also known as the Sanno Festival. The autumn festival takes place on the 9th and 10th of October and is centered around the Sakurayama Hachiman Shrine and is referred to as the Hachiman Festival.

Traditionally the spring festival was held in order to pray for a good harvest, while the Autumn Festival was celebrated to offer gratitude the gods after the crops were harvested. Both editions have very similar attractions and schedules, but each of them features its own set of Yatai

Gathering of Yatai

Free 9:00 - 16:00

The Yatai are huge floats made of wood and decorated with detailed carvings, lacquerware, curtains and dolls, which date form the 17th century and form Takayama Festival's most iconic image. Throughout the year the Yatai are stored indoors, but during the festival days they are lined up on the town's streets, so that visitors and worshippers can admire such an impressive work of traditional craftmanship.

Mikoshi Processions

Free All day

The mikoshi are portable shrines containing deities, which usually reside in the Hachiman and Sanno Shrines but are carried around Takayama in a procession during the two days of the festival. This processions consist on a parade of several hundred people playing traditional music and dancing around the mikoshi, in order to purify the streets of the town and get rid of unwanted devils.

Karakuri Performance

Free Twice a day

The Karakuri are traditional marionette performances dedicated to deities. The marionettes are sophisticated, highly detailed and well articulated dolls, made out of wood and dressed in traditional clothes, which are mounted on top of some tall Yatai. They are operated from inside the Yatai by using a complex string system and require up to 9 people to make them move.

Night Festival

Free 19:00 - 21:00

On the first night of both festivals, once the sun has set, the Yatai are decorated with several hundred paper lanterns and are pulled through the streets of Takayama's old town. Once the parade has ended, the Yatai are pulled back to their storehouses to the rhythm of a special tune sung only on this occasion. The Night Parade is considered as one of the highlights of the Festival.

HOW TO GET THERE

Takayama Station
Hida Limited Express Railpass

aroundMOVE AROUND

Takayama festival is mainly centered around Takayama's old town, with all of its activities being within walking distance of each other. The old town can be reaced in a 10 to 15 minute walk from Takayama Station, or by riding the sightseeing bus.

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