Each autumn, the historic city of Takayama hosts Takayama Matsuri, ranked as one of Japan’s top festivals. Throughout the remainder of the year, the Yatai Kaikan Hall displays several of the elaborate floats used during the festival. These colorful floats, of which four of 11 are on display at any given time, date back to as early as the seventeenth century and are adorned with intricate carvings, hanging Japanese lanterns and marionettes. Each float is mounted on wheels and requires a team of 20 people to maneuver them through the streets.
While a visit to the hall lacks the theatrics of the actual festival, it’s the next best thing if you can’t make it for the main event.
Yatai Kaikan Hall, located next to Sakurayama Hachiman Shrine, is a 15-minute walk from Takayama Station. The entrance fee also gets you into Sakurayama Nikko Kan, another exhibition hall housing an impressive replica of Nikko’s Toshogu shrine.