How (and Why) to Go to the Takayama Competition(s)


Japanese matsuri, or festivals, usually are not for the faint of coronary heart. I imply this actually! Since most of them happen through the hottest a part of summer time, it’s truly harmful for individuals with cardiac issues to pursue them too vigorously.

Certainly, even for these of us with comparatively regular coronary heart operate, the Japanese summer time just isn’t a simple factor to endure. And I say that as somebody who has lived in Texas, Florida and Southeast Asia!

The Takayama Competition, which happens twice per yr in each April and October, avoids the punishing climate of most different matsuri. This isn’t the one cause to attend, in fact, but it surely definitely sweetens the deal.

When is the Takayama Competition?

I not too long ago, attended the Takayama Spring Competition, which takes place yearly between April 14-15. The timing of that is very nice, as in some years, it aligns completely with the total bloom of the cherry blossoms. Even on years when this isn’t the case, nonetheless, you’ll expertise some sakura motion. Plus, you’ll take pleasure in balmy days, even when the nights can get cool at occasions.

Though the Takayama Autumn Competition has the same really feel (a minimum of by way of the floats and processions), it’s not fairly as seasonally stunning. That’s as a result of it happens between October 9-10. Though this may occasionally have been across the peak of autumn shade many years in the past, it’s now earlier than the primary timber even begin altering colours. Consequently, in my view, it doesn’t even actually really feel like fall.

What to Do on the Takayama Competition

See the floats set out within the morning


I all the time love strolling throughout the long-lasting Nakabashi bridge on a morning in Takayama, however that is particularly satisfying through the Takayama Competition. Whereas a number of the pageant floats are arrange simply off the west facet of the bridge (so, towards Takayama Station), the bulk are situated within the Outdated City on the opposite facet of the river, or simply north of the Sanmachi Suji Outdated Avenue

Watch the start of the procession


In case you come to the Takayama pageant in spring, you’ll need to head to Hie Shrine at 1 PM on the primary day to observe the start of the procession of floats. In case you are available autumn, in the meantime, the procession will started at Sakurayama Hachiman-gu, at across the identical time. In case you come to both shrine a bit early, you may learn extra concerning the significance of every to its respective pageant.

Get pleasure from snacks and drinks


As is the case with summer time matsuri, the Takayama Competition sees food and drinks stalls arrange. What’s particular right here, nonetheless, is that many meals gadgets give attention to Hida Beef. Whereas this native model of beef is much less fashionable than Wa-gyu from Kobe and even Matsusaka, it’s extraordinarily scrumptious, particularly when it’s served as distinctive “beef sushi.”

Look ahead to the cash shot


One cause I believe the Takayama autumn pageant is an inferior choice when in comparison with spring’s? It’s only throughout spring that sakura billows appear to engulf the floats as they parade via city. This seems particularly spectacular when you look southward towards the aforementioned Nakabashi bridge, ideally from Ikadabashi simply to its north. Floats usually transfer throughout the bridge at round 6 PM, although this isn’t a set time.

Stick round for the yoimatsuri


As you may keep in mind when you learn any of my dispatches from Kyoto’s Gion Matsuri in 2023, I typically favor the ambiance and ambiance of a given yoimatsuri (i.e. evening pageant) versus its counterpart through the daytime. The identical is true in Takayama. I like hanging out within the sakura-shaded park simply south of Nakabashi on the east financial institution of the river, particularly, although many different vantage factors are nice as properly.

Is the Takayama Competition Price It?

The Takayama Competition doesn’t require an enormous funding of time or power, broadly talking. The primary factor is that you just’ll have to e-book your lodge as far upfront as doable (probably a minimum of six months earlier than the pageant); you also needs to most likely e-book your practice or bus early when you can. Other than these elements, visiting Takayama through the spring or autumn pageant will probably be like another journey to town.

To place it one other means, on condition that tips on how to go to Takayama Competition just isn’t actually rocket science, the Takayama Competition is totally worthwhile. The primary query that you must ask your self is the place you propose to be in Japan throughout one of many two festivals durations, and whether or not there’s wherever else within the nation that could be extra deserving of your time through the related dates.

Different FAQ Concerning the Takayama Competition

What does the Takayama Competition rejoice?

Merely put, the Takayama Spring Competition celebrates the approaching of spring; the Takayama Autumn Competition coincides with numerous native preparations for winter, moderately than (essentially) the arrival of fall. Whereas there are non secular and spiritual intricacies above and past these essential concepts, the overall rationale of the festivals is fairly easy.

What’s the Takayama Autumn Competition?

The Takayama Autumn Competition takes place between October 9-10 yearly, and is actually a thanksgiving pageant. Moreover, it coincides with the interval of the yr the place locals would historically start getting ready for the onset of winter.

The place is Takayama Spring Competition?

The Takayama Spring Competition takes place primarily inside Takayama’s Outdated City, with the principle processing begin on the Hie Shrine within the southern a part of town. Nevertheless, a number of the floats are simply over the Miya River from the outdated city on the opposite facet of the Nakabashi bridge, over which locals parade them backwards and forwards a number of occasions all through the day.

The Backside Line

The Takayama Competition is considered one of my favourite matsuri I’ve attended in Japan—and never simply because I used to be capable of go with out passing out from warmth stroke. In case you select the Takayama Spring Competition (as I did), you’ll take pleasure in plentiful cherry blossoms framing the floats parading via town, even when you won’t get as fortunate as me with regard to the blooming state of affairs. Even when you go for the autumn version—which, honest warning, takes place a couple of month earlier than the leaves probability—you may nonetheless take pleasure in a festive ambiance and good climate. Want personalised assist planning your Takayama pageant journey? Think about hiring me to assist!



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