Tiny Takayama treats

I can’t seem to drag myself away from reminiscing about Takayama. This tiny town really captured our hearts!

So this post is just a random collection of things that caught my eye around the town.

From cutesy posters to tiny food stalls, everything is just so novel to us Westerners!

I love the overly designed packaging on everything. The garish colours and relentless cuteness of every product just melts my heart!

Below are some adorable little chocolate balls packaged as Geishas and kitties.

Takayama has some nice morning markets. One is held in front of the Takayama Jinya, and the other at the Miyagawa River side.

At the Miyagawa market, sixty shops and stalls are open in approximately 350 meters from Kaji bashi Bridge to Yayoi bashi Bridge along the Miyagawa River in the center of the town.

The stalls on river side sell vegetables, fruits, pickles and spices while shops on the other side sell Japanese sweets and crafts.

Some shops sell Japanese souvenirs such as chopsticks and small items in addition to Takayama local souvenirs including sarubobo dolls and Ichii Itto-bori wooden carvings.

Neil cosies up to another Sarubobo and I snap some zany advertisements.

There appears to be a cardbaord cutout that I have not forced him to stick his head through – quickly rectified!

And here are a few quirky crafts to enjoy before we head onto the Hida folk museum for dressing up shenanigans . . .

Tiny Takayama details

This post is mainly random shots of more delicious details from around Takayama.

Above the man sticks his head in a regional icon – a Sarubobo – AKA monkey baby!.

These are red human-shaped dolls, with no facial features, made in a variety of sizes.

Traditionally, sarubobos are made by grandmothers for their grandchildren as dolls, and for their daughters as a charm for good marriage, good children and to ensure a well-rounded couple.

Some more raccoon dogs with their magical expanding scrotums can be found hiding around corners.

Meanwhile sumptuous coloured fabrics are piled high in local shops, ready for making into kimonos.

A pharmacy window attracts my attention with its display of old medicine labels.

Back in the little Sanmachi Suji District now. This consists of three streets in the heart of Takayama’s old town, which lies just to the east of the Miya-gawa River.

The streets are lined with traditional houses, shops, restaurants, sake breweries and cafes. These three quaint streets are among the most picturesque in Japan, and gives you a feel of what Japan looked like around the turn of last century.

But modernity is never too far away in the shape of wacky posters and eyewateringly priced meats – ‘high priced parts’ anyone?

Plus there’s always some graffiti paste ups for me to enjoy too,

Next up we’re catching the bus and heading for the hills to explore the staggeringly beautiful Shirakawa-go, an area with over 100 traditional thatch-roof houses, known as gassho-zukuri in Japanese.

Shrines and sushi

Follow us as we trot around the quaint little streets of Takayama, chock full of gorgeous old buildings and quirky sights.

Takayama gained importance as a source of high quality timber and highly skilled carpenters during the feudal ages.

Consequently the city was put under direct control of the shogun and had quite a bit of prosperity despite its remote mountain location.

Takayama’s old quarter (called “Sanmachi”) is known for the beauty of its lattice-lined buildings, along which waters flows through the canals on either side of the street.

With lots of sake breweries and souvenir stores, the area is as bustling as it is beautiful.

Next up we wander to the Sakurayama Hachimangu Shrine.

The origins of the shrine date to the time of the Emperor Nintoku, when he requested Prince Takefurukuma no Mikoto to destroy Sukuna – an incredible beast.


Before undertaking his task, the warrior enshrined his father, the Emperor Ohjin, as the deity of this shrine and prayed for the success of his mission.

More than 1.5 million people visit the shrine annually but we had the place to ourselves.

Lots more to see from this beautiful little town, watch this space.


Traditional Takayama

We’ve arrived in the exquisite little Japanese town of Takayama. We’re staying at the gorgeous traditional homestay of Guesthouse and cafe SOY 

This beautiful house is chock a bloc full of beautiful dark wood, sliding doors, futons and other traditional Japanese architecture and decor.

We can heartily recommend this lovely little place. It’s about 15 minutes out of town but the wonderful Tai happily picks you up and drops you off.

You also get the most gorgeously presented breakfasts each morning – each one was like a 5 star restaurant creation!


After adjusting to our new surroundings for a while it’s off to the gorgeous town of Takayama.

Takayama is a city in Japan’s mountainous Gifu Prefecture.

The narrow streets of its Sanmachi Suji historic district are lined with beautiful wooden merchants’ houses dating to the Edo Period.

Takayama is known as a “little Kyoto” for its gridiron street plan and preserved, historic, wooden buildings.

Even though the small streets get hellishly clogged with sightseers, it is impossible not to be charmed by this lovely little place.

Takayama has a proliferation of Sake breweries, easily spotted by odd balls  found hanging outside. These are Sugidama, which means “cedar ball,” and that’s what they are, fresh cedar branches tied together and clipped into a perfect spheres.

Sake makers would hang up a fresh green sugidama in November or December, right after they pressed sake made from the new rice harvest. Customers knew that a few months later, when the sugidama turned completely brown, the sake was ready to drink.

These days, you’re most likely to spot a sugidama outside sake sellers and restaurants that pride themselves on a great selection of nihonshu (sake).

Prepare yourself for multitude of snaps from this incredibly photogenic little town!


Glimpses from the train

Bright and early we’ve hopped on the Shinkansen heading out of Tokyo and towards our next destination – Takayama in the Japanese alps!

As we leave the dazzling, frantic cityscape the scenery becomes more and more rural.

There’s tumbling rivers, rice fields and verdant forests whizzing past us at a rate of knots.

The countryside offers us tantalising snippets of a life that we’ll never experience.

Below you can see the endless yellow of the rice fields and several rice drying racks.

The fields are interspersed with quaint little villages, full of traditional houses.

There’s more rice drying racks alongside every road and village, we can even spot people beavering away harvesting it.

Above and below farmers scurry around getting their harvest in before rain showers scupper their plans.


Keep your eyes pointed to the blog as we rock up in the gorgeous town of Takayama next!