Wednesday, December 7, 2011

One day around Takayama

We will stay in Takayama on night 13/14 April, 2009. Next day we will

attend famous Takayama festival. Night 15/16 April we will stay in


The question is about itinerary on night 14/15 and during the day on April 15th.

We are going to rent a car in Takayama around 5 pm on April 14, spend

night somewhere around, on next day return car, and take train to


The questions are:

- where would you recommend to stay at night April 14/15? We are ready

to drive from Takayama 1-2 hours around 10 pm.

- places to visit on next day, April 15th. Please consider that to

return rented car without additional payment we have to return the car

close enough to Takayama,

Scenic and low price is the priority.

About rental car driving: although I never been in Japan I am a

confident driver who drove in many countries including South Italy if

it can be used as benchmark :-)


One day around Takayama

One option is the area called Nakao located in Shin Hotaka. Stay overnight there and the next morning you can explore that area a bit and then enjoy a ropeway ride that offers panoramic views of Northern Japan Alps. From Shin Hotaka you can drive back to Hirayu, which is a gateway to Kamokochi Height. Yes, you can head back to Takayama by 5pm that day. That%26#39;ll be a bit rushed itinerary, though.

One day around Takayama

It%26#39;s now less than one full month before the festival. Have you secured your hotel room and car rental? If not, do it now. Chances are everything in Takayama city proper is fully booked. This festival is one of the most famous in the entire country and tourists begin booking their hotels six months in advance. You may have to split your stay at two separate hotels.

Driving in Japan is very civilized and roads are kept in great conditions. However, finding parking in Takayama during those days will be difficult. Why not use the trains? Don%26#39;t worry about luggage--there is luggage delivery service called ';takkyubin.'; It%26#39;s inexpensive and reliable. Do a search in this forum and you%26#39;ll find a lot of discussions about takkyubin.

If you cannot find anything in Takayama, consider Furukawa, which is not far from Takayama (15 min by train away). In fact, it%26#39;s considered a petite version of Takayama (small old town charm, except that Furukawa is a little smaller) with its own festival that takes place on April 19-20. The floats are similar but smaller and less crowded.

If you choose to stay at Hida Furukawa, just note the time of the last train. Overall, I think Hida Furukawa is a better bet than onsen towns because of the its proximity to Takayama. Remember that the festival celebration is at night and thus you wanna ensure that you catch the last train to return to your hotel.

correction--the floats, parades, and dances happen during daytime as well as nighttime during the festival. however, the highlight seems to be the procession at night when lanterns are lit. don%26#39;t know exactly when it ends. so, again, if you have to stay outside takayama, you will need to check the train schedule.

a tip about ryokans--if you stay at an onsen ryokan, dinner is usually included in the price tag. so, if you stay at a ryokan outside takayama and are paying for dinner, then you may miss the night parades. some ryokans may accommodate guests during the festival season to schedule dinner before the night parade starts. inquire.

There are also regular buses to Furukawa, and I believe they run later than the trains. In any case, a couple of years ago I stayed for the night parade and still was able to make the second-to-the-last train easily back to Furukawa.

I was going to suggest Furukawa as well. You wouldn%26#39;t need a car to get there.

Another option would be to stay in Shirakawago, in one of the minshuku. It is truly a unique experience. The expressway linking Takayama and Shirakawago has made the drive very easy. You would have to be sure that your minshuku knows about your late arrival, if you stay after the night event at Takayama.

Even if you didn%26#39;t stay in Shirakawago, it would be a nice place to go by car. Plan to get there early to get parking, though, and avoid the worst of the tour bus crowd.

Another place in the area that I really like is Gujo-Hachiman, not far from Takayama. It is an unspectacular but charming town, nice to stroll around in.

You can reach Gujo Hachiman from Takayama by expressway all the way, and there is a large hotel called Hotel Gujo-Hachiman not far from the exit. Not terribly atmospheric - or cheap - but a nice bath complex and big parking lot.

Hirayu and the Oku-hida onsen villages (of which Shin-Hotaka is one) are a good option though the road becomes mountainous and if you are driving in the dark just be sure to be alert.

April can be chilly in the mountains. There may be a few patches of snow up around Shin-hotaka. I had to buy gloves a couple years ago when I was at the Spring festival in Takayama, it was so cold, and I came unprepared.

Also not too far away from Takayama is the onsen town of Gero, though I have never stayed there.

We will be in Takayama on 11 %26amp; 12 April (Saturday %26amp; Sunday)and did not realise the festival was only a couple of days away. Hotel booked thank goodness.

So they have the festival on the 14 %26amp; 15 April that is on week days Tuesday and Wednesday, is that right?

How busy will Takayama be a few days before the festival?

Thank you very much for suggestions. I like them all!

I am thinking now about this itinerary:

On Apr.14th drive 1.5h from Takayama to Gujo Hachiman, night in Gujo Hachiman.

On next day (I can%26#39;t decide):

1. Drive through Kiso Valley from south or

2. Drive to Shirakawago and Shin Hotaka

In both cases we drive 5-6 hours on second day, this is fine. In Matsumoto we return car and take train to Tokyo.


3. Relax on second day in Gujo Hachiman, visit Shirakawago, return car in Takayama, take train Takayama-Nagoya-Tokyo


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