High on the southern side of the Japan Alps, Takayama is one of Japan's most traditional towns, and the quaint narrow streets of the downtown area are lined with old wooden buildings housing sake breweries, museums, and craft galleries displaying exquisite local carpentry. Takayama is also home to a number of excellent temples and shrines, and red bridges picturesquely criss-cross the river in the centre of the old town. The vibrant early morning market, which runs throughout the year, is one of Takayama's main attractions.

Twice yearly, in the spring and fall, Takayama breaks into raucous revelry when tens of thousands of spectators descend on the town for the Takayama Matsuri, one of Japan's best known and most visually stunning festivals. Each April and October, ornate yatai floats are paraded through Takayama's streets by locals in traditional dress, and the town celebrates in true Japanese style.