Jōmon period to Kofun period (300 BC to 538 AD)
There are many remains of the Jōmon period in Takayama. The Jōmon culture of Takayama was characterized by its unique patterns on their earthenware and influenced by the Sinsyu, Toukai and Hokuriku areas.
Some artistic earthenware and unfamiliar stoneware were discovered in the Takayama City area including a Registered National Historical Site called the Dounosora site. According to the Nihon Shoki (The Chronicles of Japan edited in 720 AD), a head of the powerful regional clan, Ryomen Sukuna, was defeated by the army of the Imperial Court in 377 AD. As legend goes, he lived in Dewa-gahara at Hida dai syounyuudou, and there is a dedicated wooden statue of him by Enkū the Buddhist monk at the Senkouji Temple.
Nara period (710 to 794)
When a national centralized tax system was established on the Taika Reforms in 645 AD, then central government made a law to use the excellent architectural skills of local craftsmen from Hida. Ten men in every 50 households were assigned to work in the capital city to build palaces, gates and temples. Approximately 100 men went to the capital city every year. Hida people were exempted from paying other tax. In the Japanese oldest classic poetry anthology, Manyosyu, there were some poems about Hida people, their craftsmanship was highly recognized. Their reputation even increased thanks to new skills acquired from working the capital city. There are many ancient temples such as Hida provincial temples. The present main building of the Hida provincial temple was built during the Muromachi period (about 1336 AD to 1573 AD), however remains from the Nara period was discovered in the lower level of the temple.
Heian period to Sengoku period (794 to 1573)
The Heike clan governed Hida in the Heian period, and then the political center was moved to the Kokufucho area, Northen Takayama, during the Kamakura period. In the Muromachi period, Lord Taga Tokugen built Tenjin yama castle, Tagayama castle, which became a base of the present castle site during the Bunan era (1444 AD – 1449 AD). In the Eisyou era (1504 AD -1520 AD), Takayama Geki built another castle on Mt Tenjin and people started to call the area Takayama. In the Sengoku period when constant military conflicts took place throughout Japan, Hida was not an exception. Mitsuki clan who allied with Lord Sasa Narimasa from Toyama region took over Takayama. However, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, the most influential warlord of that time, resisted this, and ordered Kanamori Nagachika who owned the Echizen Ōno Castle to conquer Hida. Nagachika attacked the Mitsuki clan and conquered Hida.
The era when Kanamori clan ruled Hida (1586 to 1692)
Kanamori Nagachika became a lord of Hida (33,000 koku of rice wealth) and his clan ruled the region for 107 years over six generations. His income was increased in Mino and Kawachi as a reward of fighting in front at the battle of Sekigahara taking on the Tokugawa side. Nagachika started to build the Takayama Castle in 1588 AD and it took almost 16 years to complete. The castle was said to be one of the best five castles in Japan. He also devoted himself to construct castle town; elevated ground surrounding the castle was assigned for samurai houses while the lower area was used for townsfolk.
This area for townsfolk is now “the Old Town” (Furui machinami). He also allocated various temples on the east side of the town, and Higashiyama walking course allows you to visit these temples easily.
In addition he built the Syourenji Temple (present Takayama Betsuin) facing the castle. Takayama city was fundamentally established during this era. The Kanamori clan was transferred to Dewa in 1692 AD and their ruling was over.
The period when Takayama was under direct control of the Edo shogunate (1692 to 1868)
under direct control of the Edo shogunate, and the castle was destroyed by the order of the Edo shogunate. The site is now the leafy Shiroyama Park, and as the ruins of Takayama Castle it is designated a historical site and national monument.
In 1771 AD a peasant revolt that lasted for 18 years broke out due to oppression by the 12th local governor Oohara Hikoshirou. More than 9,000 peasants including a promising young leader, Hongoumura Zenkurou, was severely punished. Later on, political corruption by the local governors was revealed and a son of Hikoshirou was deported. There were some good governors as well; for example the 19th governor of Ooi Tatewaki made great efforts to save the locals at the Tenpou famine. The 20th governor of Toyota Tonoshin encouraged Shibukysayaki pottery and the silk worm raising industry.
After Meiji era (1868 – Present)
After the Meiji Restoration (1868 AD), the modern municipality system was introduced in 1875 AD. Takayama cho was formed merging with Takayama ichinomachi mura, ninomachi mura and sannomachi mura. It was the town with the largest population in the Gifu Prefecture. A new modern municipality system was introduced when its population was 15,385 in 1889. Takayama City was formed merging with Nada mura in 1926 and Oonada cho in 1936. Takayama City still merged Hozue mura in 1943 and Daihachiga mura in 1955. In 2005, nine neighbouring towns and villages including Nyukawa mura, Kiyomi mura, Shoukawa mura, Miya mura, Kuguno cho, Asahi mura, Takane mura, Kokufu cho and Kamitakara mura were merged into the new Takayama City.