Nestled in the mountainous Hida region of Japan, Takayama is a city full of tradition, especially in its old town area. Once a major source of timber and carpentry, the city streets feature some of the most intricate architecture. Over the years, the citizens have preserved many of the old buildings, giving tourists a chance to step back into the Edo period.
The city is also home to one of the best celebrations in Japan. Each spring and fall, massive floats parade through the streets during the Takayama Festival.
While you should have no problem finding things to do, you may struggle to decide where to stay in Takayama.
Takayama doesn’t have a lot of districts but finding the right one is still important. You may prefer to stay near modern hotels and restaurants or closer to the historic parts of the city.
Not sure where to look? Get your accommodations search started with this guide to the best places to stay in Takayama.
Where to stay in Takayama, Japan: A complete guide to the best neighbourhoods and areas for travellers
Travelling around the city, you’ll come across a few distinct districts, each with its own atmosphere. On the east side of the Miyagawa River is the historic Sanmachi-suji district, offering access to narrow streets lined with old houses.
The downtown area contains a mixture of tradition and modern Japanese culture. You can find many shops, bars, and restaurants of all variety and styles. It’s a little hipper compared to the Takayama Station area.
Near the station, you’ll find the largest selection of hotels, convenience stores, and restaurants, mostly catering to tourists and business travellers.
The city is easy to explore on foot no matter where you stay but staying closer to the sites on your Takayama itinerary can save a little time.
A few of the best areas to stay in Takayama for travellers include:
- Sanmachi-suji District
- Central Takayama
- Takayama Station Area
- Sakaurayama-Hachimangu Area
✔ Best area to stay for history buffs and culture lovers
Sanmachi is the historic district and includes three main streets that encircle the area. Some of the structures date back to the 17th century, making it one of the best areas to get a glimpse of life in pre-modern Japan.
You can find most of the top things to see & do in Takayama within the Sanmachi-suji district. This includes a stroll down the old streets.
Too narrow for vehicular traffic, the pedestrian-friendly streets are flanked with traditional Japanese houses. Featuring white-washed walls and dark wood, the old buildings contain businesses on the lower floors and residential homes on the upper floors.
Some of the buildings are museums while others are now restaurants or cafes. When travelling through this area, make sure that you try some of the local delicacies, including locally harvested tea and handmade soba.
Where to stay: The best hotels in the Sanmachi-Suji District
As with most of the districts, you don’t have a lot of hotels to choose from in this area. In fact, there is just one standard hotel and a large selection of ryokans and apartments.
Here are a few of the best hotels and places to stay in the Sanmachi-Suji District:
- Hotel Wood Takayama: As one of the only hotels located within the old town area, this place fills up quickly. It’s a three-star hotel with Western-style beds and a long list of amenities to help you feel comfortable. Thanks to the soundproofed walls, you can also ensure that you get a good night’s rest.
- Hotel Hidatakayama Hakun: With Japanese-style rooms, this hotel sits on a hill with views of the Japan Alps. Each room has its own private wooden bath and access to a public hot spring bath. Just a short walk from the old town and downtown areas, this a convenient spot if you want to explore the whole city.
- Hotel Honjin Hiranoya Annex: With rooms for five and a private bathroom, this spot makes you feel at home. They even serve Hida Beef for traditional-style meals in the evening. Keep in mind that it’s only got rooms that accommodate five guests, making it suitable for families but not solo travellers.
- Hotel Hoshokaku: This traditional building includes Japanese-style rooms, many with shared bathrooms. If you want a private bath, try to book early. Just a five-minute walk from the old town, this ryokan gives you a central spot for exploring the rest of the city.
✔ Best area to stay for local cuisine and shopping
The central downtown area sits between Takayama Station and the main river. It offers a mix of the old and new, catering to a diverse group of locals and tourists.
The area itself doesn’t have a lot of attractions but the few that it does offer are among the top sites in the city.
The central area contains Takayama Jinya, the former administrative offices for the Tokugawa Shogunate. The building is now a museum with tours explaining how taxes were collected back in the day.
The downtown area is on the west side of the river with views of the historic old town. To reach the traditional houses in the historic district, you can cross any of the four short bridges that connect the two districts.
Where to stay: The best hotels in Central Takayama
Outside of the main station area, it gets harder to find hotels. Luckily, the central area still has a few options to consider. Keep in mind that most of these spots are along the outskirts of the central area but still within walking distance.
Here are a few of the best hotels and places to stay in Central Takayama:
- Temple Hotel Takayama Zenko-ji: Built to resemble a traditional Japanese temple, this unique spot offers modern amenities and a variety of room options. While many of the rooms have shared bathrooms, you can typically find an opening with a private bath.
- Hotel Hana: A short walk from the station and old town, this three-star hotel is a convenient place to stay. While the furnishings are modest and drab, the staff are friendly and helpful, pointing out places to visit and how to get around town.
- Super Hotel Hida Takayama: This is another spot closely located near the train station and the central district, giving you a great selection of restaurants and cafes during your stay. The hotel also provides its own Japanese buffet-style breakfast with local cuisine. When you’re ready to relax, enjoy a dip in the hotel’s hot spring.
- Ryokan Seiryu: This next option is a traditional Japanese inn called a ryokan. Many of the rooms have shared bathrooms but there are a few options with private baths. During your stay, you can experience local culture with traditional Japanese meals served to you in your room.
Takayama Station Area
✔ Best area to stay for modern comforts and familiar restaurants
The Takayama Station area contains more modern developments, including an array of restaurants and big hotels. In fact, you can find many Western chain restaurants in this region, giving tourists a taste of home.
As this is the area where most travellers arrive, it offers the largest selection of accommodations. Some of the best hotels in Takayama are close to the station.
The station is still a short stroll from the old town area. You can cut through the downtown district and cross the Miyagawa River to reach the historic sites.
The station area also offers its own attractions. When you stay here, you’re just a few minutes from Takayama Park.
Instead of green space, it’s a commercial park with small shops and craft stores. You can shop for handcrafted souvenirs between stops at the nearby cafes and restaurants.
Where to stay: The best hotels in the Takayama Station Area
Due to the convenient location near the main station, this neighbourhood offers the most choices for hotels. You can find modern establishments along with quaint little hotels featuring authentic Japanese architecture and décor.
Here are a few of the best hotels and places to stay in the Takayama Station Area:
- Hida Takayama Onsen Takayama Green Hotel: Choose from Japanese-style rooms and Western-style accommodations at this three-star hotel. You can also unwind in the hot springs or pay for the hotel’s massage services. If you aren’t tempted to travel out for dinner, the hotel offers seven different dining options.
- Hotel Kuretakeso Takayama Ekimae: This modern hotel doesn’t offer any special features to draw in guests other than its location and quality furnishings. The four-star hotel sits just a couple of blocks from Takayama Station and Hida Kokubunji Temple. It’s a comfortable place to stay and one of the more convenient locations.
- Wat Hotel & Spa Hida Takayama: Relax with drinks at the bar or indulge your taste buds at the on-site restaurant serving international cuisine. The elegant décor and furnishings also help this hotel stand out as one of the classier locations.
- Country Hotel Takayama: Resembling a traditional Japanese store, this boutique-style hotel helps you get into the right mindset for exploring historic sites. You even get a traditional yukata robe during your stay. If you forget to bring any toiletries or need a late-night snack, the hotel also has its own 24-hour convenience store.
✔ Best area to stay for rural landscapes and historic sightseeing
The Sakaurayama-Hachimangu area is north and northeast of the city centre and main historic district. It still offers close access to some of the cultural sights in the old town area but also gives you a break from the crowded tourist spots.
If you enjoy hiking or outdoor activities, this neighbourhood places you closer to the trails and nearby day trips.
The Sakaurayama-Hachimangu neighbourhood also includes many of the city’s important shrines and temples. For historic sightseeing, you’ll likely want to spend some time in this area even if you choose a hotel in another district.
As the most rural part of the city, this area also tends to get fewer tourists. This means that you should have fewer problems finding a vacancy.
Where to stay: The best hotels in Sakaurayama-Hachimangu
As with other areas of the city, ryokans are more popular in this neighbourhood. There is just one hotel in the immediate area. If you want your own private bath, you may need to start your search early for an apartment or vacation home.
Here are a few of the best hotels and places to stay in Sakaurayama-Hachimangu:
- Tabino Hotel Hida Takayama: The wooden rooms and traditional décor give this hotel an authentic atmosphere. It’s also just a short walk from the Sakurayama Hachiman Shrine and the Takayama Festival Float Exhibition Hall where they store and display the floats between festivals.
- Tawaraya: Stay in a two-bedroom apartment and experience how life was for citizens in Edo period Japan. The authentic villa features two floors, a private garden, and convenient access to the historic old town.
- Takayama Kanko Hotel: While this spot is a ryokan, it also offers rooms with private bathrooms. Each room has paper screens, low tables, and floor cushions, giving you a traditional setting for your exploration of this historic city. The hotel also provides relaxation with its own open-air hot spring baths.
- Vacation Home Kusa no Niwa: As a vacation home, this place requires booking for multiple days. If you plan on staying for a week or longer, it’s a great way to immerse yourself in traditional Japanese culture. The structure features authentic Japanese architecture and its own patio.