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Takayama Festival

The Takayama Spring Festival starts mid-April and runs for two days.

The centuries old Takayama festival apparently started in the 17th century. There is little documented history about the start of the event, it is held to commemorate a good harvest. One of the largest festivals in Japan, it is a spectacle not to miss.

The Takayama festival is famous for the large ornate floats which are pulled around the city at night for two or three hours. Some floats (yatai) have their origins dating back to the start of the festival in the 17th century.

They are splendidly decorated with intricate carvings of gilded wood with detailed metal and lacquer work inside and out. The ornate floats are also decorated with intricate embroidered drapery. As dusk settles in, dozens and dozens of lanterns are lit on each of the floats. The floats each represent a district in Takayama and the teams associated with each float are dressed in their district’s traditional dress.

From morning to late afternoon of both days of the festival, the yatai are on display in the streets of Takayama in specially designed storehouses. Several of the yatai have large sophisticated mechanical dolls called karakuri ningyo and they can move and dance.

The colour and atmosphere at the festival are something you will remember for a long time and especially because the festival is right at the peak of the cherry blossom season too. Wondering through Takayama is fascinating at the best of times but the festival takes it up yet another notch.

As you can imagine, the festival is a very popular event visited by several hundred thousand people from across Japan and the world. You can imagine Takayama swells in numbers and to get accommodation you need to book early. As a result, hotels in Takayama are booked out many months in advance.

The Journey to the East APRIL Cherry Blossom tours will takes you right to the heat of this unforgettable display of culture and history.