Sanno-machi Historic District

Sanmachi Historic District

Open an atmospheric time capsule of life in Edo-period japan

Takayama was once a bustling hub drawing expert artisans, farmers, and merchants from throughout the surrounding area, and Sanmachi and Oshinmachi preserve the traditional aesthetic of this time. Enter this district, and you step into the closest thing to the Edo period outside of a historical drama.

Sanmachi, Oshinmachi, and Shimoni-no-machi districts of Takayama retain the atmosphere of the Edo period (1603-1867) and are important “Preservation Districts for Groups of Traditional Buildings”. During the Edo period, Takayama was a lively hub town bustling with craftsmen, merchants, and farmers from the surrounding area. Today that old-world atmosphere is preserved in the three main streets of Sanmachi, the Shimoni-no-machi district north of Sanmachi, and the Oshinmachi district.

The most profound experience is just to simply stroll around town, soaking in the historic architecture. Fujii Folk Craft Museum is a particularly good example of this. Exhibitions in these houses range from life’s necessities to more artistic heirlooms. Kusakabe and Yoshijima Heritage Houses to the northeast of Sanmachi also provide very good glimpses of Takayama’s past.

There are plenty of restaurants and cafes serving handmade soba and local cuisine and produce. Seven sake breweries remain in the area, some offering tours and tastings. Takayama sake brewers pride themselves on innovation as well as tradition, and each has its own distinctive line and style.

This was the main government office where an official dispatched from the capital governed Takayama. It was known as the “jinya” and was under the direct control of the shogunate. The governor of the jinya was responsible for collecting annual tributes for the shogunate and managing forest resources. A storehouse remains on the grounds that was used to store the rice collected on behalf of the shogunate. Today, it is an exhibition space with displays and information about the history of Takayama Jinya. Such is the beauty and craftsmanship that went into its construction that Takayama Jinya rated two stars in the prestigious Michelin Green Guide Japan in 2015. Today, Takayama Jinya is well known for the Jinya-mae market that takes place in front of the building. The other market, Miyagawa Morning Market, takes place along the banks of the Miyagawa River, a short walk away.

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The Hida Takayama Town Museum introduces the history of Takayama and the arts and crafts and traditional culture that developed in the castle town. Learn all about the town from its founding to its townhouses.

The famous Takayama Autumn Festival is an important annual ritual of Sakurayama Hachimangu Shrine, where the guardian deity of the northern half of the city is enshrined. The festival is also known as the Hachiman Matsuri. The floats wheeled through the streets as part of the festival are very ornate, decorated with intricate carvings and elaborately detailed metalwork. Some of the floats are on permanent display in the nearby Yatai Kaikan. Mechanical dolls similar to the dolls that perform dances on top of the floats are also exhibited in the Karakuri Museum. The spring festival is a ritual of the Hie Shrine, which enshrines the guardian deity of the southern half of the town.

There is enough in and around Sanmachi to fill an entire day, and with plenty of hotels, guesthouses, and ryokan nearby, it makes an excellent base for exploring the wider Takayama and Hida area.

Sanmachi: A Glimpse into Edo-Period Japan

As you walk through the streets of Sanmachi, you can’t help but feel transported back in time. The traditional wooden buildings, narrow alleys, and charming shops and cafes all contribute to the atmosphere of the Edo period. This was a time when Takayama was a bustling hub, attracting skilled artisans, farmers, and merchants from all over the surrounding area.

The preservation of Sanmachi as a “Preservation District for Groups of Traditional Buildings” is a testament to the value placed on maintaining the historic aesthetic of the Edo period. The district is made up of three main streets: Sanmachi-dori, Ninomachi-dori, and Sannomachi-dori. Each street has its own unique character and is lined with shops, cafes, and galleries that showcase the craftsmanship and artistry of the local artisans.

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One of the highlights of Sanmachi is the Fujii Folk Craft Museum. Housed in a beautifully preserved traditional building, the museum exhibits a wide range of folk crafts, from everyday items to more artistic pieces. The museum provides a fascinating insight into the daily life and culture of the people of Takayama during the Edo period.

Another must-visit attraction in Sanmachi is the Kusakabe and Yoshijima Heritage Houses. These well-preserved traditional houses offer a glimpse into the lives of wealthy merchants during the Edo period. The houses are filled with exquisite architectural details and are furnished with period furniture and artifacts. Exploring these houses is like stepping back in time and experiencing firsthand the opulence and elegance of Edo-period living.

After immersing yourself in the history and culture of Sanmachi, it’s time to indulge in some of the local culinary delights. Takayama is known for its delicious food and sake, and there are plenty of restaurants and cafes in Sanmachi where you can sample traditional dishes and local specialties. Handmade soba noodles are a must-try, as are the various types of sake produced by the remaining breweries in the area.

One of the most iconic landmarks in Takayama is Takayama Jinya. This historic government office was the center of political and administrative power during the Edo period. Today, it serves as a museum where visitors can learn about the history and governance of Takayama. The building itself is a work of art, with its intricate architectural details and beautiful gardens. The Jinya-mae market, held in front of the building, is a lively and bustling affair where you can find local produce, crafts, and souvenirs.

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In addition to its rich history and cultural heritage, Takayama is also known for its vibrant festivals. The Takayama Autumn Festival, held annually in October, is one of the most important festivals in Japan. The festival features elaborate floats adorned with intricate carvings and decorations, as well as traditional music and dance performances. The atmosphere during the festival is electric, with locals and visitors alike coming together to celebrate and enjoy the festivities.

For those looking to explore beyond Sanmachi, Takayama offers plenty of attractions and activities. The Hida Takayama Town Museum is a great place to learn more about the history and culture of the region, while the Miyagawa Morning Market is a must-visit for food lovers and bargain hunters. The market is filled with stalls selling fresh produce, local delicacies, and handmade crafts.

If you’re a nature lover, the surrounding Hida region offers stunning landscapes and outdoor activities. From hiking in the Japanese Alps to visiting the picturesque villages of Shirakawa-go and Gokayama, there’s no shortage of natural beauty to explore.

With its rich history, preserved architecture, and vibrant cultural scene, Takayama is a destination that truly captures the spirit of Edo-period Japan. Whether you’re interested in history, food, or simply immersing yourself in the charm of a bygone era, a visit to Takayama is sure to be a memorable experience. So why not step back in time and discover the atmospheric time capsule of life in Edo-period Japan?

Address And Maps Location:

Kamiichino-machi, Takayama-shi, Gifu-ken


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