Yatai parading during the sakura blossoms
Takayama Festival is held twice a year – in April during the spring and in October during autumn. The festival is regarded as one of the three most beautiful festivals in Japan.
Takayama Spring Festival
Takayama Spring Festival is held annually on the 14th and 15th of April to celebrate the return of spring to the city, which is mostly covered by snow during its winter. The festival is an annual festival organised by Hie Shrine located in the southern half of Takayama’s old town. The shrine is also known as Sanno-sama, and hence the spring festival is well known as Sanno Festival among the locals. It is a festival to pray for a good harvest in spring
Parade with the yatai
From morning to late evening, festival floats known as yatai will be displayed along the streets during the two-day Takayama Spring Festival. The yatai are decorated with detailed carvings, lacquering and beautiful metal works both inside and outside of the yatai.
Beautifully decorated yatai
Some of the floats are decorated with puppets or marionettes made of wood, silk and brocade or embroidered cloth. These puppets, which can move and dance, are also known as “karakuri ningyo”.
A man managing the karakuri ningyo
Another highlight of the festival is the portable shrine known as mikoshi. It is carried around the town in a parade – starting and ending at Hie Shrine. The mikoshi contains the shrine’s kami (Shinto deity) and this is the only time in the year it leaves the shrine.
Mikoshi, the portable shrine
Since the festival is held in the mid-April, which is also the early blooms of cherry trees in Takayama, the view of costumed townsfolk and giant marionettes with the beautiful pinkish sakura will definitely give you an amazing view.
The yatai beautifully captured with the blossom sakura
Although the origin of Takayama Festival remains unknown, it is believed that the Kanamori family, who ruled the city in the 16th to 17th century, started the tradition.