Takayama Autumn Festival in Gifu Prefecture, Japan

Festival Participant beside their float
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Takayama Autumn Festival in Gifu Prefecture, Japan

Exploring the lively, autumn-colored, narrow, historical streets of Takayama in a chilly morning

It was an early chilly morning when we left our hotel. Images of our walking tour in the historical villages of Shirakawa-go from the previous day were still fresh in our minds, and we eagerly looked forward to our next walking tour that day.

Streets of Takayama
Streets of Takayama

I read my itinerary and saw that the town of Takayama was our next destination. Takayama is known in Japan for its red-colored bridge and traditional houses and way of living. I was pleased to know that I will be able to see another traditional town here in Japan, but I was even more pleased to know that we were perfectly just in time for the yearly Takayama Autumn Festival as well!

Locals heading to the festival area
Locals heading to the festival area
Takayama Autum Festival Participants
Takayama Autum Festival Participants
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Festival Floats or Yatai
Festival Floats or Yatai

We started walking from our designated parking lot beside a temple. In the narrow streets, we noticed that the people were walking towards a certain direction. We followed them, and in less than 10 minutes, we were able to reach Sakurayama Hachimangu Shrine. Following the people made our walking tour easier, plus, we were also able to take several pictures of the festival goers in their traditional costumes.

Preparing for the Festival
Preparing for the Takayama Autumn Festival
One of the 11 Yatai or Floats lined up near the temple
One of the 11 Yatai or Floats lined up near the temple
Some of the Takayama Autumn Festival Floats lined up in the streets
Some of the Takayama Autumn Festival Floats lined up in the streets

A few meters from the Sakurayama Hachimangu Shrine was a tranquil late with beautiful wooden floats, which are locally known as yatai. Yatai are very special as these wooden structures with intricate carvings and designs are only displayed during the Autumn Festival. We were told that the yatai are lit up and paraded around town like floating lanterns on the dark lake.

Some of the floats has statues of white horse
Some of the floats has statues of white horse
Local guarding their float
Local guarding their float
Festival Participant beside their float
Festival Participant beside their float

After taking pictures of the 11 beautifully decorated yatai, we started exploring Takayama’s morning market. The morning market has been around since the Edo Period, and the vendors have been, since then, producing irresistible Japanese delicacies.

Local dog and his owner enjoying the festival
Local dog and his owner enjoying the festival
Goheimochi rice cakes
Goheimochi rice cakes
Japanese Barbeque
Japanese Barbeque
Takoyaki vendors
Takoyaki vendors

Of course, as a traveling foodie, I could not help but try them all out. I specifically enjoyed their takoyaki and rice cakes! Also on display on the market were slices of Hida Beef, an exquisite beef slice produced best in Takayama, which is akin to the well-known Kobe Beef.

Chocolate Coated Cavendish
Chocolate Coated Cavendish
Local Kids wearing traditional costume
Local Kids wearing traditional costume
Wooden Cats and Sarubobo dolls
Wooden Cats and Sarubobo dolls

Aside from food, stall after stall by the river sold fresh, colorful vegetables, fruits, pickles, and spices. Another lane of stalls sold souvenirs, handicrafts, and Sarubobo dolls.

Japanese rickshaw with local tourists
Japanese rickshaw with local tourists
Sannomachi Street
Sannomachi Street
Wooden Cat outside an Antique Shop in Takayama
Wooden Cat outside an Antique Shop in Takayama
Local Beer Shop
Local Beer Shop

Before heading to our rendezvous point, I explored Sannomachi Street—a street lined up with old, black-painted wooden houses that were turned into tourist facilities like restaurants and souvenir shops. It’s a rather clever way of attracting customers like me, who like immersing and breathing into culture, if I may say. I, sadly, did not have the time to stop by. But I will definitely return, hopefully, in the winter.

Nakabashi Bridge
Nakabashi Bridge
Pickle Vendor outside Jinya Manor House
Pickle Vendor outside Jinya Manor House

I walked to our meeting area and took pictures of Takayama’s beautiful colors and still life. I briefly stopped by the famous, cherry-colored Nakabashi Bridge that connects the town of Takayama to the Jinya Manor House—another historical structure in Takayama that served and is still serving as a public office building. It was nice strolling on the bridge. I felt as if I travelled back in time. The red, orange, and brown, falling leaves added more magic to the moment.

Jinya Manor House
Jinya Manor House

After walking all by myself in the cold autumn in Takayama, I returned to the rendezvous point with my travel buddies, and prepared myself for another walking tour that day.

Flights from Manila to Nagoya, Japan

Cebu Pacific Air, the leading airline in the Philippines, flies between Manila and Nagoya (Chubu Centrair International Airport) every Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday. Book your flights through the CebuPacificAir.com. For updates and seat sale announcements, check out www.facebook.com/cebupacificair.

Our Nagoya Familiarization Tour last October 6-10, 2015 was sponsored by Cebu Pacific Air and Centair. Many thanks for this wonderful opportunity.

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