Takayama’s two famous festivals are the Sannō Matsuri (April 14–15) and the Hachiman Matsuri (Oct 9–10), when eleven huge elaborate yatai (floats), adorned with mechanical dolls (karakuri), are paraded around town, a spectacle that attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors. If you’re not in town for the festivals you can still view four of the yatai at the Takayama Yatai Kaikan (高山屋台会館), a large exhibition hall within the grounds of the shrine Sakurayama Hachiman-gū (櫻山八幡宮). At least once a year all eleven floats and the golden mikoshi (portable shrine) are displayed inside the huge glass case that you wind your way around at different levels so you can see all of the decoration closely. Many of the floats date from the seventeenth century and are usually stored in the tall storehouses (yatai-gura) that you’ll notice around Takayama.

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