The Takayama Spring Festival/Sanno Matsuri takes place at Hie Shrine in Takayama City, Gifu – not to be confused with the festival and shrine of the same name in Tokyo. The festival features processions of large wheeled floats, mikoshi (shoulder borne portable shrines) and marionette performances all to the magnificent mountain valley backdrop of Hida Takayama.The Takayama Autumn Festival is a very similar festival held in October.
Hie Shrine is a 20-25 minute walk from Takayama Station which is on the JR Takayama and JR Hida lines. You can reach Takayama station direct from Nagoya on the Hida Limited Express – it costs ¥5,500 for a non-reserved sead and takes around two and a half hours). There are also busses running from Osaka and Kyoto costing in the region of ¥4,000 – ¥6,000. From Tokyo you can either take the bullet train or catch a night bus to Toyama or Nagoya and catch the Hida Limited Express from there.
Accommodation gets booked up fast ahead of the two annual festivals but there are a good variety of options in the city overall. Some good hostel options include Relax Hostel near Takayama Station which offers capsule-style dorm rooms and K’s House which has private rooms and dorms – including double beds. If you’re after a hotel, Temple Hotel Zenko-ji is a classy option with tatami rooms and garden views. Offering a mix of traditional and Western styles, Takayama Ouan Hotel has the best of both worlds and is close to the station.